A brick walk or patio is attractive and allows you to enjoy your garden when the ground is soggy. Garden brickwork is also a favorite do-it-yourself project. Do a bit of planning to lay your garden brick so that it stays as dry and level after several years of rain and snow as when you first laid it down. Design your garden walk using gentle, easy-to-mow curves.
Preparing the Foundation
Lay out the outline of your walk or patio with stakes and string or with a chalk bag for irregular shapes. Dig a foundation 8 to 10 inches deep inside the lines. Be sure to add 8 to 10 inches on either side of the design of the brick work for foundation for edging. Tamp dirt down with a plate compactor to create a squared-off space for the foundation.
Pour in at least 4 inches of crushed rock and rake it out flat. Tamp it down with the plate compactor until the stone comes within 3 inches of the surface, parallel to the the surface of the ground. This bed should establish at least a 2 percent grade---one quarter inch per foot---that will allow the walk or patio to drain in the same direction as the rest of the yard.
Add at least 1 inch of sand to the gravel and tamp it down so the finished depth is no deeper than 1 1/2 inches. Level the surface with a 2-by-4-inch board dragged along the surface or over two 1-inch steel pipes laid parallel on the surface, then moved along to the next section as the 2-by-4 is dragged on top.
Laying the Bricks
Let the sand settle overnight. Check the grade and repeat the leveling process the next morning.
Install the plastic or metal edges along the edges. Drive the stakes into the crushed rock foundation and replace the sod outside the walk or patio.
Lay the bricks in a herringbone or running bond pattern, checking the level as you progress with the work. Check level and grade as you work by drawing a string between two stakes at the level where the top of the bricks should be and move the guide as you work.
Cut bricks with a masonry saw, available from rental outlets to fill curves and partial spaces.
Spread a half-inch of sand across the bricks and sweep back and forth until it has filled the cracks between the bricks. Do not step on bricks until the cracks have been filled.
About this Author
Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.