I think a novice can attempt this. You can attempt to repair the out-of-the-way spots first to see how you do.
From my perspective, here's what I'd keep in mind ... Make SURE you work in the right outside temperature. Trim back your bushes and plants so you're COMFORTABLE with room to work. Only mix what you can use because if you let the mortar sit too long, it will harden in the pan; not in the wall! (Go slowly ...) Fill a spray bottle w/water and spray the INSIDE of the joint BEFORE you insert the water. If you don't, the brick and remaining water will 'soak up' the water in the morter too quickly and give you a 'soft' joint. (By wetting it first, you kinda prevent this from happening.)
You can buy a book by Quikrete at Sears called Building With Brick and Concrete (I think.) Just look for the bookshelf and read the index for your topic. A GOOD book goes a looooooong way!
Here are a few links too. Don't rely on just one source for info (since you're an admitted novice.) The more you know, the more educated you can make your decisions.
Tuck Pointing Tips, and
RE: Mold/Mildew - You need to understand the causes in order to understand the cure. 1) Little, or no sunlight, 2) little, or no air movement, 3) continual presence of moisture/water/dampness. If you can alter ANY 1 (or more) of these conditions, your problem may go away. Then, again, even if you trim back your trees, bushes, and plants, and you let the sun and air dry out the ground, and you fix your gutters and downspouts and such, you can still have this problem, like I do. My north-facing wall has ALL this taken care of, yet I still have the problem. It's not that bad but it is a maintenance 'issue' for me to clean up about every 5-6 years. You can power-wash this stuff off under LOW pressure (but more than a garden hose's pressure.) Or, you can mix 1 cup bleach w/1 gallon water and scrub by hand. Just be aware that anything growing where this mixture drips will die or get damaged from the bleach. Late Fall or Winter is the time to do this because the plants are dormant. Work from the BOTTOM, up. You should clean the ENTIRE wall, otherwise you'll definitely see the clean part very noticibly. Try the power washing first (for obvious reasons), and again, work from the BOTTOM, up. (A top-down approach creates streaks!!!)
My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: God Bless America!
[This message has been edited by Jay J (edited December 05, 2001).]