Weekend Project: DIY Bench seat with AB Courtyard

An AB Courtyard bench is a way to add beautiful accents and seating to any landscape. You can build it on an existing surface like a patio or pavement, as well as on soil.

Step by Step Instruction Guide

Step 1: Measure and Mark out

Using a measuring tape, builders square and a pencil, mark the locations of your two piers.
We recommend building a bench seat that’s 2400mm in length from the outside of the left hand pier to the outside of the right hand pier. It’s a comfortable size and the seat timbers shouldn’t bow. Use a pencil to mark the pavement surface so you know where to place your first blocks.

Step 2: Build the first 3 courses of pier 1

Using the AB Courtyard blocks, build 3 courses high using the patters (see left image). Be sure to reverse your pattern on each course to maintain the stretcher bond pattern. Simply dry stack blocks on top of each other and push together. There’s no glue, mortar or concrete required.
Tip: The blocks have an intentional taper where one side is slightly longer than the other. When building piers you must lay the blocks with the long side facing out!

Step 3: Finish the pier

The timber for your seat will sit at atop the 3rd course of blocks you have just finished installing. It’s now time to finish the pier and build another two courses high using 4 blocks only (see left image) – this creates a ledge which your timbers will sit on. Follow the pattern in the image to the left and remember to reverse your pattern on each course and lay blocks facing outwards.

Step 4: Place the capping units on top of the piers

At 5 courses high your pier is complete – the last job is to complete the look by adding the AB Courtyard Pier caps. Two caps are needed per pier. Make sure you have a friend handy for this part as the pier caps are heavy – it’s a two person lift.
Pier caps should be placed on top of the blocks ensuring they meet at a slight peak in the middle. You can either dry stack the caps or fasten down with landscape grade adhesive. If you are gluing down the caps, place a continuous line of adhesive to the top of the blocks and place cap.

Step 5: Construct the second pier

Find your pencil markings for the second pier and start building by following Steps 2 and 3 from above.

Step 6: Fasten the timbers to complete

Measure and cut 4 timbers to size using appropriate safety gear. If you’re using a hardwood timber, wash and seal to reduce tannin stains.
There are two options for fixed timbers, you can either adhere the timbers to the top of the ledge blocks using landscape grade adhesive (be sure to keep a small gap between timbers to allow the water to run through), or the second option is to screw a cleat to the underside of the timbers at each end (this secures the timbers but allows the bench to be pulled up and moved in one piece if you wish to keep your bench seat a mobile one!).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I build AB Courtyard walls and piers on existing concrete pads/ paved patio areas?

Yes! Freestanding AB Courtyard walls can be built onto existing concrete pads or paved areas. For optimum results, a high strength paver such as Adbri’s Euro Classic or Euro Stone pavers or a suitably prepared concrete pavement will work! Simply clear and clean down the surface to remove debris and start stacking AB Courtyard blocks. No glue, Mortar or adhesive is required!

- Euro Slate is not recommended due to the intentional uneven, undulated surface.
- AB Courtyard should ONLY be installed onto level concrete or paved surfaces with a suitable fall to allow water runoff. Uneven surfaces will result in an uneven wall finish. In instances where existing concrete pavement area is not level, a sand and cement screed may be required to level the surface.

How do I build AB Courtyard walls on a grassed/soil area?

Where no concrete base is available AB Courtyard walls can be constructed in soil as per any other segmental retaining wall. Grass and debris will need to be removed and a trench will need to be excavated in the area the wall is to be constructed. A suitable levelling pad will be required using road base and then sand and cement screed before the first course of blocks can be installed.

What is the maximum height I can build freestanding AB Courtyard walls?

Freestanding AB courtyard walls can be built to a maximum of 5 courses (750mm) high. Piers can be built to a maximum of 6 courses (900mm) in height plus capping unit.

- Soil gravity retaining walls, planter boxes and walls serving a ‘retaining’ purpose can ONLY be built to a maximum of 2 courses (300mm) in height plus capping unit.

Which block do I need to use to commence a wall?

If you are building a freestanding wall without piers or a soil retaining wall, you can start with whichever block you wish. If you are building a wall coming OFF a pier you have built with AB Courtyard, or off an existing vertical surface (i.e. side of a house) you will need to use cut blocks to start each course.

Why should I always build the first two courses together?

It is best practice to always build the first two courses of AB Courtyard walls simultaneously. It is important to do this to ensure alignment and easy construction of subsequent courses. To do this, place 5-6 blocks down for the first course and then before finishing this course, place 5-6 blocks down on the second course. This is the BIGGEST tip for building AB Courtyard Walls as working out the pattern and successfully installing these two courses will set up your wall for success.

What are the raised circular ‘rings’ on top of the Dublin and York blocks for?

These raised rings are designed to improve wall interlock and strength. The raised rings on top of each block ‘lock’ into the holes on the bottom of the blocks on the course above.

How do I end a wall?

Walls can be ended either flush or by using a stepping down technique. Both finishing options utilise AB Courtyard Corner blocks.
For a STEP DOWN staggered wall finish simply use full AB Courtyard Corner units at the end of each course where you are ready to finish the wall.
For a FLUSH VERTICAL finish to the wall, you will need to cut AB Courtyard Corner units to the required size to finish flush, and at an angle to sit in neatly with the next block.

How do I create piers?

Piers are easily created using Corner blocks. The Courtyard Corner blocks have a long and short side. Before creating piers it is important to determine the long side.

AB Courtyard specifications and factsheets can be found on the ADBRI Webite for more information.

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