Walkways around your house are not only functional, but they can also add beauty and a touch of elegance to your existing landscaping. Brick walkways are not as hard to lay as you might think. They just take a little planning, a certain amount of materials, and some labor.
The key to any successful project is proper planning. You shouldn’t rely on an abstract idea in your head. Instead, you will need to draw out your brick walkway plan by using either graph paper and pencil or a computer. Be sure that you sketch in any trees, flower beds, plants, shrubs, and other objects in your yard near where you want to lay your brick walkway.
It’s important that you don’t lay the walkway too close to them. Allow at least a foot and a half of space between trees and shrubs and walkways. This will allow adequate space for the trees and shrubs to get water, plus it allows room for growth.
You will need to purchase bricks, cement mix, a load of sand, and a load of small gravel for this project. You may already have, or can borrow from a friend or neighbor, a hammer, a level, spade, trowel, shovel, garden rake, garden hose, and a piece of wood.
Preparing the Area
The first step is to prepare the area where you’re going to lay your brick walkway. You will need to measure out the area in your yard. Then, place wooden stakes around the diameter of the measurements. Finally, tie heavy string around all of the posts so you now have an outline of your walkway.
The next step is to remove the sod as well as part of the dirt below the surface. The depth will depend on the thickness of each brick plus approximately five inches for the foundation. A spade is an effective tool for digging into, and breaking up, the sod and the dirt. A shovel is better for removing the broken up pieces.
You will need to remove all rocks, sticks, roots, and other objects in the outline so that the finished area is smooth and flat.
Laying the Foundation
Your brick walkway needs a relatively flat foundation underneath it. This foundation can be made either of concrete or sand and gravel. A sand and gravel foundation is, of course, the easiest to build.
The first step of laying the foundation is to fill the area with a thin layer of small gravel. Use a garden rake to level the gravel out so that it covers the entire area evenly. The next step is to cover the gravel with a thin layer of sand. Again, use a garden rake to gently level the sand out so that it covers the gravel evenly. Then, use a garden hose to lightly mist the entire area until the sand is wet. Tamp the wet sand down to help make it firmer, but use caution not to leave holes or dips in it.
Laying the Brick
There are a few different kinds of patterns for laying bricks in your walkway. These patterns include one – brick basket weave, two – brick basket weave, three – brick basket weave, and herringbone. For simplicity’s sake, we are going to use the one – brick basket weave pattern.
The first step is to start at a corner of the area, and set the first bricks in a block so they are positioned at right angles to each other. Leave about a quarter of an inch between each brick. Now, use the hammer and the piece of wood to gently tamp down the bricks you have in place. Use the level to make sure the bricks are flat. Repeat this process until you have completed a two-foot by two-foot section.
The second step is to mix together a dry fill of one part cement mix and four parts of sand. Pack this into the cracks between each laid brick. Also, place this dry mix into the holes in each brick.
Use the garden house to lightly spray the bricks and the cement/sand mix for several minutes. Then, repeat this entire process until you have completed your brick walkway.
Finally, you will need to lightly spray the entire walkway again for several minutes. The water will help the cement bond itself to the sand. Then, remove the wooden stakes and the string and pack dirt around the edges of the walkway. Let the bricks set undisturbed for several days while it settles before you use it.