If you’ve decided that you’d like to lay a brick or stone pathway outside of your home, the procedure for either is very similar. When deciding on what type of material to use, consider your home’s architecture first. For example, if there is a particular type of stone, brick or rock built into the exterior of the home, try to bring the same texture or color into your pathway. Also, matching with the color and texture of another nearby part of the landscape will also help pull things together. Try to select a material that won’t be too slippery when wet –especially if the pathway is located near a swimming pool.
What equipment you need will depend on the size of the job. If you are breaking new ground and digging into a new area, remember to call the local utilities to ensure there are no buried lines that you could encounter. For large jobs, consider renting a plate tamper to help prepare the surface for your pathway’s bricks or stones. Below, we will highlight the major steps needed to build a brick or stone pathway:
Determine the location, length and width of your path. Having done so, add at least 2 inches around the outside. Once this has been determined, use a rope, spray paint, or wooden stakes to mark your layout.
Next, dig out the marked off area, removing the top layer of soil. You’ll know when you’ve gone deep enough when the color of the soil changes. If you have a low lying area of your yard nearby, consider using the extra topsoil as fill. You can either shovel it into a wheelbarrow and dump as needed, or shovel it onto a tarp for transport shortly thereafter.
Once the area has been dug out, fill with 1 to 2 inches of a graded base material. Some professionals lay a cover of fabric before putting the base material down. Lightly spray the base with the hose before tamping; this will keep some of the dust down. Repeat this process with another couple of inches of base material. You’ll want to build up until your base is about three or 4 inches below grade.
Next, you will want to screed sand for the bricks or stone. There are a couple ways of doing this. For smaller jobs, you can simply lay a section of pipe along both inside edges of the pathway so that they are about 1 inch above the surface of your base material. Pour sand into the space between the pipes and screed the sand level by drawing a third pipe across them, down the middle, leveling the sand as you go. This process can also be done by using 2 x 4’s along the outer edge, while notching a third 2 x 4 at both ends to allow for the height of your sand layer. In either case, use masonry sand or stone dust for this prepared surface.
Next, you can begin to lay your bricks or stone. When laying stones, generally the pattern is more like putting together pieces of a puzzle. For bricks, however, there is a set pattern to use. In either case, it can be a timesaver to simply leave open any spaces that won’t accept a full brick or piece of stone. They can be filled later. As you set down each brick or stone, use a mallet to tap level with the edge of the pathway.
Once your stones are laid and you’ve filled the open sections with smaller pieces of brick and stone, fill the gaps between the bricks with masonry sand. To do this, shovel a thin layer over top of the bricks and sweep across, using a large push broom. This allows the sand to fill the joints as you go. Once all the joints are full, spray the path with a hose to help settle the sand. Brush the rest of the wet sand into the cracks until they are filled flush with the top of the bricks. The pathway will need to settle for some time-at least a week, before adding more masonry sand, since the joints will have settled further.