The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Uses for crumbly bricks

Pile of bricks

I've been trying to decide on a good use for the bricks from the old chimney ever since we winched the structure down in May 2008.

Winching down a chimneyOver the years, I've used a few bricks in the garden to weigh down the sides of quick hoops and emergency row covers.  But these chimney bricks are handmade and too crumbly to be included in anything structural.

I'd tossed around the idea of making a brick path in front of the trailer to delete the mud pit that develops there each winter.  But laying bricks sounded like a lot of work when I could just put on boots.

Tossing bricks in the mud

The perfect use for our bricks presented itself when a spot in the driveway started bogging down the golf cart.  Usually, we'd go get a load of rip-rap from the quarry, but we don't have a truck at the moment.  Could a golf cart load of bricks serve the same purpose?

Yes they can!  Now that pile of bricks looks like an opportunity, not a weed-heap.

Our chicken waterer provides clean water all day, so you can spend your time eating fresh eggs and watching the flock's antics rather than messing with manure.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

You might want to save those bricks. I'm not familiar with the situation in the US, but over here old handmade bricks are valuable for restauration projects.

It is true that handmade bricks are not as strong as machine pressed bricks or concrete, but that doesn't mean you cannot build things from them! I could show you scores of brick buildings dating back to even the 14th century.

And all over Europe you can still find Roman brick structures from as far back as the 1st century CE. Although those bricks looked more like tiles to us.

Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Aug 23 13:02:12 2012

Roland --- Unfortunately, just sitting out in the weather for a few years has been enough to make them start eroding away. I hadn't realized until I looked at the old photos that they used to have relatively sharp corners --- now they look like rocks that have been rolled around in a stream.

That said, there were some harder bricks inside the fireplace and I've set those aside. Not sure what we'll do with them, but they seem too good to waste in the driveway.

Comment by anna Thu Aug 23 13:21:48 2012
We find a lot of these around our yard and around the neighborhood (our house was built in 1925.) We dug them in to be flush with the top of the ground and lined the edge of our front flower beds this way so that the mower can ride over them and we don't need to edge (as much.) It was a little effort but it has saved much more effort and energy with less trimming.
Comment by Brian Thu Aug 23 13:52:53 2012

Very resourceful Anna - a great use for the bricks . . . excellent idea for your pathways

Meanwhile . . .check this out. . . this is what to do with a couple of your "harder" bricks! Looks yummy!

Comment by Jayne Thu Aug 23 14:38:06 2012
If only the bricks that were close to the fire in the hearth are good, it could be that the bricks weren't properly fired to begin with. In which case they might nog last overly long in the driveway.
Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Aug 23 17:55:40 2012

Brian --- I was just thinking I hadn't heard from you in a while. (I'm assuming you're fruit cocktail tree Brian. :-) ) Edging does sound like a good use, especially if you can mow right over.

Jayne --- Good idea! We'll have to try that recipe out.

Roland --- The bricks in the fireplace were a completely different color, perhaps added later or just bought special for the fireplace. Maybe fire bricks? I'll try to remember to check on the bricks in the driveway in a few weeks and see if they're still moderately cohesive.

Comment by anna Thu Aug 23 18:05:45 2012
I doubt anyone would use refractory bricks in a fireplace. Unless they'd want to use their fireplace as a kiln or blast furnace. :-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Aug 23 19:46:04 2012
I'm a mason and they are firebrick. It is normal to use firebrick in an outdoor fireplace. Good use for the bricks. Only thing they are good for now is as clean fill.
Comment by Marco Thu Aug 23 20:59:02 2012

Roland --- Firebricks are supposed to work a bit like insulation --- efficient wood stoves tend to have them in the walls. So I could see someone retrofitting their fireplace to try to get a bit more heat out of it. I've read about people doing that with inefficient wood stoves.

Marco --- Sounds like you know what you're talking about! I'll probably still save the firebricks, though --- they just look so handy.... :-)

Comment by anna Fri Aug 24 12:23:43 2012

I used old bricks to make a flower bed, with stacked-brick walls (no cement). They were easier to use on the gentle slope and still allow for drainage.

I also used some for walkways in the salsa garden -- still no cement, just arranged for walking.

Comment by Melodae Thu Aug 30 14:42:58 2012
Melodae --- That sounds like a great idea! An e-friend of mine does beautiful things with brick walkways and flower beds, so I can nearly imagine what yours looks like.
Comment by anna Thu Aug 30 19:25:06 2012

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.