Free-standing walls are an attractive and robust garden feature, but they need to be carefully designed to the right specification. Free-standing walls do not have much much stability in relation to horizontal forces, particularly wind, therefore their design involves more than just deciding on the length and height required. A half-brick or single skin wall is not considered stable above 725mm high, so single skin brick walls are really just for ornamental use, like borders. Freestanding walls which are one brick thick can be used in gardens up to a maximum of 1925mm (1075mm in very exposed locations). Garden walls must be built on a solid foundation, usually a concrete strip footing (a trench filled with mass concrete).
A damp proof course is not essential on a free standing wall but will prevent upward migration of ground water by using a layer of impermeable material which is supplied in rolls to suit all widths of brickwork and laid to a course 150mm or more above ground level. Although not absolutely necessary, a damp proof course costs very little and guarantees a longer life for the wall, as damp cannot rise to saturate the brickwork. Piers are recommended to strengthen the ends of walls of half-brick and one-brick thickness and would be suitable to support a light gate.
Increasing the thickness of a garden wall will improve its wind resistance, but a straight solid wall is still not very efficient because of its narrow base, in very exposed regions a curved or zigzag wall would be better to resist horizontal force. Garden walls longer than 10m require movement joints to control expansion, effectively breaking the wall into discontinuous lengths to prevent cumulative stress that can cause cracking due to movement or instability.
To get the most from your brickwork, you should get it done by a professional to ensure it is long lasting, strong, and attractive. However, for small, purely ornamental walls of no more than 750mm high and 5m long, can be tackled with DIY skills and good planning. Never attempt to build a high wall or a load bearing wall without professional advice. Bricklayers are professionals that have training and experience in constructing buildings or structures using bricks and professional bricklayers will always work with safety in mind. Construction of brick retaining walls or freestanding walls are best left to a competent brickie unless you are very confident in your skills and you have a good awareness of the risks.
In the first instance look for recommendations from those you trust to find a reputable local bricklayer, failing that, contact a number of local contractors and ask to see examples of previous work they have carried out and speak to their customers. The simplest way to get in touch with local recommended builders is to use the free quote service on this site, click the "post a job" button to get started.
Get them to provide you with testimonials or references from previous clients, ideally client s that have had similar work done so you can get an idea of the finished quality. Ask for a free quote and ensure that the quote includes materials, labour, and clean up. But don't necessarily pick the cheapest quote, choose the bricklayer that you are confident will offer a high quality job and is offering a fair price.