Putting down a paver walkway will take you a full weekend but is well worth your effort

paver walkway
A paver walkway leading to your front door or even around your side yard and through to your garden is a job that can be done without hiring a professional or costing as much as a summer vacation!

Pavers are molded concrete blocks that come in a variety of shapes and colors. They are made to fit together, have built in spacers and are joined by sand rather than mortar.
The biggest part of this project is digging out the path.
If it’s a long path you are looking to lay, do yourself a BIG favor and rent some kind of excavating machine to dig for you.
You will be digging out an area just a few inches wider than the walkway and about 8-10 inches deep.

If you dig all this with a shovel and rake I guarantee you will feel like the tin man after a good rain in the morning!

CALL YOUR UTILITY COMPANIES BEFORE YOU DIG
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TOOLS AND MATERIALS
  • Shovel
  • Hammer & nails
  • Rubber mallet
  • Broom
  • Wet saw and diamond blade for cuts
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Gravel to a depth of 3”
  • Builder’s sand to a depth of 2”
  • Landscape fabric
  • Pavers
  • Border pavers if you like
  • 2 x 4 x 6’
  • 1 x 4 x 6’

To figure how many pavers and how much gravel and sand you’ll need, first lay out the shape and location of the walkway. A slightly curved path makes it more interesting.

paver walkway

Use a hose to lay out the shape but note that curves will take you a bit longer to lay because you will have to cut some of the pavers.
Use spray paint or spray chalk to mark out the outline.

If the paver walkway is going to your front door, you probably want it wide enough for 2 people to walk next to each other (if you have the room) or anywhere between 3-1/2 and 5 feet.

A path in the backyard can be narrower.

The walkway needs to be braced on either side either by plastic L-shaped edging or border pavers that are usually brick shaped and lay on their side and run long ways down either side of the path.


Measure the length of your path now.
The easiest way to figure how many pavers you’ll need is to take your measurements and go to where you will purchase the pavers and lay out a sample pattern right there at the store being sure to include the border pavers if you are using them.
If this is too embarrassing for you to do (everybody’s different), buy 30-50 pavers and bring them home and lay them out there.
You may want to adjust the width if necessary to accommodate full pavers so you won’t have to cut them.

Now do the math and get a ballpark estimate. Most places will let you bring the extras back, better to have too many than to have to go back to the store mid-project and risk that the color or shape you have is sold out.
Also, if you are buying quite a few, they get pretty heavy. You may need to have them delivered and you don’t want to pay more than one delivery fee right?

The fine people you buy the material for the paver walkway from should be able to tell you how much sand and gravel you’ll need if you tell them the size of your paver walkway.

OK, so now you have all the materials and you have spray painted your outline. Use that excavating machine the way the rental place instructed you and dig away going maybe 4 inches wider than the finished walk.

At about this time, you might just be thinking of where to put all the dirt and grass you just dug up. That my friend, is The only thing I dislike about landscaping.
If you come up with a good thing to do with this, please let me know.
I usually fill many yardwaste bags and pay the garbage company to take them away.


If you are using border pavers, the depth you need to dig for them may be deeper than the rest of the paver walkway.
That can most easily be done with a trowel after you’ve used the excavator.

NOTE that the border pavers don’t need to sit on the gravel and sand. Just dig the trench out for them, line it with landscape fabric and set the border in using a rubber mallet. Use a level as you go along.

Next spread 3 inches of the gravel along the path (you can make a 3 inch mark on the border pavers to make this easier) and lay landscape fabric over that.
Spread the sand out now 2 inches deep.

You will make a screed with the 2 x 4 and the 1 x 4.
Cut the 2 x 4 a foot longer than the width of the finished paver walkway. Measure the thickness of one of the pavers and center the 1 x 4 on the 2 x 4 and nail it onto the 2 x 4 so that it extends that much (the thickness of a paver) below the 2 x 4.


Now, starting at one end, put that screed on top of the border pavers and drag it down the path so that the sand gets leveled.

Now it’s time to lay the pavers down.
Start at one end and go across the path first then go the length of the path making an “L” shape. Use the rubber mallet to tamp the pavers in place. They should fit snugly together, the built in spacers will keep them even.
Then start to fill in the “L” making a triangle with a stepped edge. Continue on from there.

If you get to a point where a paver doesn’t fit in just right, backtrack by taking them out until you find the one that’s a bit off and re-lay them.

On curves, lay the pavers down so they extend beyond where you want the finished edge to be.
Draw the curve on them then take each out and use the wet saw with diamond blade. Make sure you wear safety glasses and a dust mask.
Lay them back down and tamp in place.

Your paver walkway is almost done.
Once all the pavers are down, pour ½ inch or so of sand over all of them and sweep it around to fill in between. Add more sand if necessary to fill each space up to the top.
Now use a fine spray hose to wet down the whole paver walkway to set the sand in place.

paver walkway

You may have to add a bit more sand and wet it again over the next week or two if you feel a wobble.

Make sure you to take photos as you go along.
This is a doable but a big project nonetheless, you will want to document it in case nobody believes you laid the paver walkway yourself. Enjoy!

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