Do It Yourself Landscaping: How To Build A Brick Walkway

Follow these easy instructions to make a beautiful brick walkway or path. Included are pattern ideas and complete easy-to-follow directions.

Brick paths and walkways are a beautiful yet functional addition to the outdoor landscape. Depending on the design and the surrounding landscape, walkways can create the look of a cozy cottage or a formal manor. Although the labor can be time consuming, a brick walkway or path can be created by anyone with an eye for design and the desire for a unique addition to their landscape.

Brick walkways and paths should be made with "pavers" instead of ordinary bricks. There are specific functions for every type of brick available. Pavers are much more durable than ordinary bricks used for buildings and fireplaces. They are meant to withstand the moisture from the ground, as well as extreme weather conditions and temperature changes. Pavers won't disintegrate, crumble, or crack like ordinary bricks. When choosing brick, make sure it's manufactured especially for using on walkways or paths.

Begin plans for your brick walkway or path by drawing the design and dimensions on paper. Graph paper works especially well for planning building projects. Each square can represent a brick. Planning and drawing the walkway will give you an idea of how many bricks your project will require. The most common size pavers measure 3 ¾ by 7 ½ inches, and they are usually 2 1/8 inch thick. Keep in mind that you will need extra bricks to replace any defective ones. Also, there will be wasted sections of brick due to pattern matching.

The most basic pattern generates the least amount of waste. This is called the "running bond" pattern. It's the same pattern you see when looking at the design on a brick building. The bricks are staggered from row to row. The ends of bricks in every other row meet in the center of bricks located above and below.

Another pattern to consider is the "herringbone pattern". This pattern resembles the bones of a herring, hence the name "herringbone". The end of the first brick is placed at the side end of another to create the pattern. The bricks are lined up in this manner next to each other until the walkway or path is complete. This pattern requires numerous extra bricks to compensate for those that have to be cut and discarded.

The "basket weave" pattern is very popular. Like the name implies, this pattern resembles a woven basket. To create this pattern, lay two bricks together lengthwise. The next two bricks are placed in the opposite direction. Two bricks together in either direction make a perfect square. The squares created by placing bricks together in opposite directions make this interesting pattern.

Begin by measuring the area for the walkway. Mark it off by pounding wooden stakes in the ground. Use a flat-ended shovel to remove the soil, and make it the proper depth for the walkway or path. Besides the depth of the bricks, you need to consider the depth of the sand and gravel you will need to use for the base. You will need approximately 1 inch of sand for the area of the walkway or path, and about 1-inch of ¾ inch crushed gravel. You will also need plastic edging, spikes to hold the edging in place, a mallet, string, a ruler, a level, a plate compactor, and a brick cutter. These items can be found at most home improvement stores.

After the soil has been dug to the proper depth, line the edges of the recessed area with plastic edging. Spread gravel over the bottom of the area, and tamp it down firmly. Use a plate compactor if you have one. If not, do your best to compress the gravel into the soil. Top the gravel off with an inch of sand. Reserve some sand to fill in the gaps after the bricks have been laid. Use string and a ruler to make sure the surface is level. Tie the string to the stakes in the ground, and measure the height with a ruler. Use a level to double-check the area.

Start laying the bricks at one end of the walkway or path. When you reach the end, it will be necessary to cut bricks to fill in any empty spots.

When the walkway or path is complete, use a plate compactor to press them into place. If you don't have access to a plate compactor, step on each area of the walkway or path to press the bricks into place. Use a broom to sweep sand into the crevices, and hose off any remaining dirt or sand on the surface.

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