Mar 13 , 2019
Planning and Preparation
For this project, you’ll need bricks, compactable gravel for the base, washed sand, and plastic paver edging to hold the bricks in place. If you’re lucky enough to have a full-service landscape supplier in your area, you can order all your materials there. Otherwise, look for pavers and plastic paver edging at home centers, garden centers or brickyards, and gravel at a landscape supplier or at a sand and gravel quarry. Don’t forget to ask about delivery charges.
Clay pavers have a rich, authentic look, but cement pavers are a little less expensive. Both types are durable and long lasting. Most pavers are 4 x 8 in. and about 2-1/4 in. thick, but other sizes are available. Measure the total linear feet of edging you plan to install and multiply by 3 to arrive at the number of 4-in.-wide paver bricks you’ll need. The plastic paver edging is necessary to keep the bricks from drifting. Use the total linear feet of the border to order edging. You’ll also need enough 10-in.-long spikes to install one every 12 in. Plus: Check out these unexpected materials used for landscape borders.
To ensure that the bricks remain stable and won’t tip when you wheel a lawn mower over them, the new compacted base should be 6 in. wider than the brick and extend 6 in. below the bottom of the brick. This means you’ll dig a 14 in. wide by 8-in. deep trench for typical paver bricks. To determine how much gravel you’ll need for this size trench, grab your calculator and multiply the linear feet of the trench by .02. The result is the number of cubic yards of gravel needed. Order gravel that ranges in size from 3/4 in. down to a powder (called 3/4-in.-minus). For our project, which was a total of 60 linear feet, we ordered 1-1/4 cu. yds. of 3/4-minus crushed limestone. Have the gravel dumped on the driveway where it’s easier to shovel up. You’ll also need a 1-in. layer of sand under the bricks. It’s usually cheaper and easier to simply order bags of sand rather than have a small quantity delivered. Divide the linear feet of the border by 5 to determine how many 50-lb. bags of sand you’ll need.
We rented a sod cutter to slice a neat layer of grass from along the edge of the sidewalk, but a flat shovel will also work. In addition to a shovel and rake, you’ll need a wheelbarrow, tamper and some scraps of lumber and basic carpentry tools to construct the screeds. If your sidewalk is straight and you only have a few bricks to cut, you can use a diamond blade mounted in a circular saw to cut the bricks. If your sidewalk is curved or you anticipate a lot of cutting, rent a brick saw.
We installed a deep compacted gravel base under the bricks. You could save a lot of work by simply digging a small trench and laying the bricks right on the soil, but you’d probably have to realign them every summer. The method we show takes longer initially but guarantees a long-lasting job that’ll look great for decades.
Create a Trench
Two days before you start digging, call your local one-call number and ask to have the buried utility lines alongside your sidewalk located and marked. When you’re sure it’s safe to dig, start by removing a 14-in.-wide layer of grass along the sidewalk. If your grass is in good shape, slice it off carefully so you can use it to patch in along the new border. A sod cutter simplifies this job and leaves you with neat rolls of sod that are easy to reuse. If your grass isn’t worth saving, just dig it out and plan to buy a few rolls of sod instead. Next, dig a 14-in.-wide by 8-in.-deep trench along the sidewalk to accommodate the gravel, sand and pavers. The trench will provide space for the compacted fill along the walkway edging. The fill provides a stable base to keep the brick border from shifting. You’re going to have a lot of dirt to get rid of. Ask around the neighborhood to see if someone needs fill for a low spot, or consider building a raised bed garden or decorative earth berm. As a last resort, you can rent a 10-cu.-yd. trash bin. When you’re done digging, rake the bottom of the trench smooth and compact it with the hand tamper for driveway edging pavers.