A small regular building unit traditionally made from fired clay but occasionally concrete. They have been used for thousand of years in various sizes and still are available in a range of sizes; with different standard sizes in different countries. In addition to the normal cuboid shape bricks are also many  other shapes available for specific purposes and these are called “specials”.

Standard Uk brick with nominal dimensions
Standard UK brick with nominal dimensions


This stands for the Sports Turf Research institute, though it now goes by the name STRI, which are based at Bingley in West Yorkshire. It was established in 1929 by the golf clubs to provide them with a research and advice service. By 1950 it had established itself an enviable reputation and had extended it remit to all managed sports turf. Though its area of expertise is in the care and management of professional sports pitches there is an active exchange of views with people like the RHS.

Brick wall thickness

The convention for describing the thickness of a wall is relative to the length of a brick so goes like this. It may seem counterintuitive but as its long established deviating from it will lead to confusion.

A ½ brick wall which was sometimes called a 4 inch wall is:

A half brick thick brick wallA half brick thick brick wall

A 1 brick wall which was sometimes called a 9 inch wall:

 A one brick thick brick wallA one brick thick brick wall

A 1½ brick wall which was sometimes called a 14 inch wall:

 A one and half brick thick brick wallA one and half brick thick brick wall

And so on, so the next is a 2 brick wall (18 inch wall) and then a 2½ brick wall (22 inch wall).


This is anything constructed from bricks which are normally fired clay, yes we are really still building from mud! The small size of the individual bricks makes brickwork and incredibly flexible building material to make garden structures out of.

A few points to note:

  • The thickness of a brick wall is described relative to the bricks length so the wide of a wall goes up in half brick steps starting with a ½ brick.
  • The mortar between the bricks is there to keep the bricks apart and stop them wobbling, it DOES NOT STICK the bricks together! In fact to an engineer brickwork has no tensile strength, that is to say it has little or no strength when being pulled apart.
  • Most bricks have little resistance to frost when wet so unless engineering bricks are being used things like retaining walls will need to have the brickwork protected from moisture.


This is a pattern that tied individual components together both structurally and visually and comes in a variety of styles including stretcher, Flemish, English, English Garden Wall, Herringbone and Random.


This is a layer of crushed stone used under paving to form, in effect, a stable foundation for it and is found between the bedding course and the subgrade. It is made of stone which has been crushed and sieved stone to end up with a mixture of sizes from  normally about 40 mm down to dust. The proportions of the different sizes should be such that the smaller stones bind the larger ones together to stop them moving and these are bound together by the smaller onesl. The source of the stone varies widely according to what is the cheapest local supply and includes limestone, dolomite, and waste concrete and waste tarmac. It goes by various names; dolly, dolomite, crusher run, type 1, MOT type 1, road plannings, 40mm down  and many others. Ministry of transport type 1 is a type of subbase produced to stringent standards which while making it perfectly suitable for garden use it is a degree of over engineering. There is also type 2 and when I asked a technician at a quarry the difference compared to type 1 he just said “very little”!

 Dolomite has the disadvantage that it becomes saturated with water when you attempt to compact it there is a tendency for it to turn to something resembling plasticine in texture, although it hardens on drying out and road planning tend to become greasy when wet. Only hard stone should be used as even the hardest sandstone, for example, will rapidly breakdown to sand in use. Once spread subbase should be compacted with either a vibrating roller or plate BUT do not attempt to compact more than a 150mm deep layer at any one time.

Hard Landscaping

This tends to be used, principally in professional horticulture, to refer to the none plant parts of a garden. So landscaping an area would be divided into either hard or soft landscaping. Generally this doesn’t include the soil and compost but where there is a lot of earth moving that could be included in hard landscaping and then the preparation of the ground for planting would be soft landscaping.

Soft Landscaping

This loose term is more frequently seen used within professional horticulture but simply means the soft things that grow ( i.e. plants) and the soil or compost they grow in. So it includes trees, shrubs, hardy perennials, grass, etc.. It generally doesn’t include vegetables grown purely for consumption, there are a number of very ornamental vegetable that would then be soft landscaping, as commercially a landscaper would not normally be involved in vegetable growing, just providing space for their cultivation in a garden. Commercially vegetable growing would be something undertaken by a market gardener which has nothing to do with landscaping.


From the word landscape, originally landskip, which was an artist term referring to a country scene which was painted. Later the word was combined with gardening to give us landscape-gardening and this has been further contracted to landscaping. The term landscape-gardening only really can into use with the English Landskip movement of 18th century. It generally refers to the construction of ornamental gardens, either public or private, and commercially it is often split into soft and hard landscaping.  

Selective Weed killer

Also called a selective herbicide.

A weed killer that is more poisonous to some types of plants than others. Note that it selective weed killers are first weed killer, i.e. they kill all plants, and then the selective part is just how susceptible different plants are that particular chemical. Or to put it other way if you are not careful to make sure you follow the instructions accurately you will either kill off nothing or everything including the plants you what to keep.