You just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood. It’s your dream home in a prime location, but it’s a fixer-upper.
The cabinets need new hardware and you know there’s Douglas fir hardwood flooring underneath the old carpet in the living room. You want to finish the attic and basement.
The opportunities are endless. So you’re excited when your new neighbor invites you over for dinner; you get a chance to unwind.
But if you’re a home-improvement aficionado, there is inspiration everywhere. As you walk up to your neighbor’s front door, you notice their incredible paver walkway.
You haven’t even thought of landscape design yet; you’re still in the throes of interior design. But you want a walkway just like that!
That’s why we’re here to help. Today, we go over all that you need to know about designing and building your own paver walkway.
What is the Easiest Paver Pattern to Lay?
You’ve seen a paver walkway before. Some people use them as a garden path and others highlight their backyard with a paver patio.
You can opt for simple paver patterns with a stone walkway or you can pick brick pavers for a more elaborate design.
If you like organic outdoor styles and designs with materials like natural stone, you’re in luck. The easiest patterns to lay are the jack-on-jack or running bond.
Maybe you prefer embellished details throughout your landscape but you don’t have very much time. If that’s the case, you can install stamped concrete pavers. They look like stepping stones, but it’s less strenuous to lay your walkway with stamped pavers.
Many homeowners like brick paver stones. If that sounds like you, prepare yourself for a challenge. Herringbone and pinwheel patterns are popular brick walkway ideas. But they are both advanced styles and you need to do a lot of cutting.
We know that you’re busy. So if you need some extra hands or support along the way, feel free to reach out to the professionals for some help.
How Wide Should a Paved Pathway Be?
The width of your paver walkway depends on your lifestyle and needs. After all, your home is an extension of you. Why shouldn’t your landscape reflect that?
If you live with your spouse, partner or a loved one, 48 inches is sufficient. That’s wide enough for you to walk side-by-side with someone else.
In general, though, laying a paver walkway that’s 36 inches wide is the norm.
If you use a wheelchair, ensure that your path is 36 inches wide with a 60-inch-wide turnaround spot.
As you plan out these details for your walkway or paver patio ideas, though, research local regulations. A paver walkway is a cost-effective renovation, but you do not want to invest in materials or labor without the right information.
There are building codes, HOA ordinances and county-wide mandates. Sometimes you need permits.
How to Design a Paved Pathway?
Below, we have the 12 steps to build your paver walkway. But first, you must understand the basics. Once you do, you will know if you can tackle it or if you need to outsource for the project.
A typical paved pathway has many layers and elements. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Six inches of gravel paver base
- A one-inch layer of paver sand
- Pavers, whichever material you chose
- Polymeric sand for the joints or gaps in between pavers (also called jointing sand, paver sand or hardscape sand)
Pro tip: some people prefer gravel for their first layer. Others like interlocking paver base panels instead. If you use the lightweight panels, you only have to lay a half-inch of sand underneath. Then, you can place the pavers right on top.
12 Steps in Building Your Paved Pathway
You know that you can pick from a lot of different materials for your pavers, like:
- Stamped concrete
- Pea gravel
You can also lay your paver walkway in any number of your outdoor living spaces, like your garden or patio.
You understand the measurements and the materials you need to begin.
You’ve waited long enough for the fun part: how to actually build it. Here are the 12 steps when you’re ready to take on your home’s latest facelift.
1. Prepare the Area
This primary step might seem elementary. It’s also one of the most important.
As you prepare to lay your path, first take thorough measurements.
What distance do you want your walkway to cover? How high off the ground will it come? How high is the natural ground you’re building on? How often will it see foot traffic?
Hold up your materials to the rest of your outdoor designs. How does it look? Do you like it?
Make sure your workspace is clean and free of debris.
2. Use String to “Square” the Area
“What? String? This isn’t arts and crafts, is it?”
We know. But we’re experts here, so believe us when we tell you that you need stakes and string for this part.
You want your walkway to be straight and even. Mark its course with stakes and string.
3. Level the Strings
Square off the area. Now remeasure your faux path along the strings. Adjust it if you need to.
Check for a square. Your string formation is a perfect square when its diagonal measurements are equal.
You also have to make sure that your strings are level. To do this, use a line level.
4. For Curves: Use Water Hose Instead of String
You may not have a space for your paver walkway that is 100 percent straight. Maybe you don’t want one that’s all-the-way straight, either. That’s okay! We have a solution.
For curves, remove the string from the equation. Use a hose to mark them. You can place a two-by-four in between each opposite side of the hose. This ensures that it is equal in width.
Once you’re done with that, use a spade to cut into the sod. The spade leaves those marks behind. The cuts show you where to dig after you take the hose away.
5. Slope the Walkway
You want your path to slope away from your house, so prepare for close to a quarter-inch drop per foot.
To plan for that drop, attach a half-inch wooden block to the end of a two-foot level. Then, you can check the slope as you dig.
Another pro tip: follow your yard’s natural slope when you can.
6. Remove Dirt and Compact the Area
You marked your layout. Now it’s time to get rid of the dirt and sod. How deep you go depends on the height of your base and pavers.
Your pavers should be equal to or a bit higher than ground level.
If you already have a patio, match the patio’s height.
As for your trench, dig it so that it is a bit wider than the paver walkway itself. You want to leave room for the paver panels and the edge restraints that keep them stable.
Grab your level and wooden block combo for a consistent slope.
If you have a large surface area to work with, a sod cutter is your new best friend. You can rent these.
Once you get rid of the dirt, use a plate compactor to tamp the entire area.
7. Start Laying the Pavers
Before you lay your first paver, add a slight layer of leveling sand. Snag that two-by-four you used earlier with the hose and level the sand so that it lays flat. It should still follow the slope. You want to end up with a complete bed of sand.
If you can, now place your initial panel flush against a straight edge (like your patio). Overlap your next panel with the ridges of your previous ones.
Does your planned area need more than one panel to cover its width? If so, you can stagger their joints for stability. Cut the extra bits off.
Follow these same first steps when you lay your pavers. Start with the outside border, then fill in the center pavers.
Leave a tiny space between each block.
Get your two-by-four again. Use it as you lay pavers to keep the width consistent.
8. Install the Edging
For every 12 inches that you work, install your edging with spikes.
Continue to double-check your work as you go.
9. Add Jointing Sand
After all of your pavers are in place and dry, add jointing sand. It fills in those spaces you left before. Sweep it into the joints.
10. Tamper the Paving Blocks
Hand-tamper your blocks. Add more sand and then tamper them again if you have to.
Fire up your leaf blower to remove whatever sand you left behind.
11. 24 Hours Curing
Hose down your walkway with a light stream.
Now, let it sit for 24 hours so that you can cure the sand.
12. Finishing Touches
If you’re a creative type, this step is for you.
Choose some features that make your paver walkway unique.
You can lay mulch between your path and yard, cultivate a garden at the borders or set up lighting along your walkway.
We know those are a lot of steps for the “average” person, especially when you have so many other things to keep up with at home.
We also know that you’re not just an average person. You’re one-of-a-kind, and your landscaping should be too.
At Exscape Designs, we want you to tell us your vision. Then we bring it to life so that you can live in a dream when you’re outside. If you don’t believe us, you will after you check out our portfolio.
Contact us today for any questions or to schedule a consultation.