Brick walkways are a nice addition to the landscape. But if you decide to install one, you'll find the biggest challenge is making the base stable and the surface even. Before you begin the project, consider the following tips.

  1. Your bricks should be hard-burned pavers. These pavers are strong, weather-resistant and can be used without mortar. Depending on your climate, common building bricks may not withstand freezing and thawing. You will need approximately five pavers per square foot of project.

  2. Other materials you will need include an edging material such as steel, wood or rigid plastic; sand (coarse, washed concrete sand), gravel or crushed stone; a flat shovel or sod stripper; carpenter's level; tool for cutting pavers (broad-blade chisel, brick splitter or masonry saw); and a wood “screed” strip for leveling.

  3. Using string and stakes, outline the area for the walkway, carefully measuring along the entire length of the project. A minimum 4-foot width is desirable. Be sure to include the width of your edging material when laying your outline.

  4. A solid, well-packed base is vital for supporting a stable surface. Excavate down to a depth of the portion of brick below ground plus 1 to 2 inches of sand plus 3 to 4 inches of gravel. Tamp the ground. Apply gravel or crushed stone and tamp again.

  5. Install edging material. Do not anchor the edging material until you have set a few rows of “practice bricks” to determine if your outline will work for you. After you are satisfied, remove the practice bricks and anchor your edging. To insure a tight fit, one side may be left unanchored until project completion.

  6. Install sand base. Apply a fine mist of water to help settle the sand. Using your wood screed and carpenter's level, level the sand. You may want to have either a slight crown or have the sand slope slightly to one side to help excess water run off the walkway.

  7. Begin laying the pavers. Work from the starting corner to the unanchored edge. The pavers should fit snugly with no more than 1/8 inch between each. Install a moveable string line across the front edge to help keep the walkway in alignment and use your level often during the process. Install only the full pavers during the first run. Cut the remaining pavers to size to complete the pattern. The cut pavers should be no smaller than 2 inches in width.

  8. Anchor any unanchored edges.

  9. To fill any gaps between pavers, apply sand over the top and sweep over the surface. It can take a long time and much sweeping to completely fill in the gaps. As you work with the sand, mist the area with water to help settle the sand. Sweep additional sand into the gaps over the next few weeks as necessary. Annual additions of sand may be needed to maintain the walkway.

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