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How to Lay Garden Brick

By Laura Reynolds ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Clean crushed stone
  • Concrete sand
  • Edge restraints; plastic or metal edging and stakes
  • Brick pavers
  • String and stakes
  • Garden shovels
  • Rigid garden rake
  • Plate compacter
  • Masonry saw
  • Water
  • Joint sand stabilizer

Tips

  • The crushed-rock foundation provides stability for the bricks. Heavy clay soils will shift less and can have more shallow foundations; sandy loam will require deeper foundations.
  • Sand provides flexibility to compensate for uneven bricks and guarantee drainage. Keep adding top sand until cracks are filled and add a joint sand stabilizer to stick the sand together in the cracks to keep it from washing out.
  • The depth of the foundation for your walk or patio will depend on the climate. Winters with extremely cold winters will need deeper foundations and more gravel.
  • Brickwork designed for vehicles requires an extra foundation layer of cement or asphalt.
  • Compute the number of cubic feet of rock or sand you need by multiplying the square footage of the walk or patio by the fraction of a foot of the depth (2 inches equals .16 or 1/6; 4 inches equals .33 or 1/3 of a foot) of the material. When in doubt, buy more material rather than less.
  • A layer of landscape cloth over the rock layer will slow the migration of sand downward, extending the life of your brickwork.

Warning

  • Always wear gloves and eye protection when using a tamper or masonry saw.

About the Author

 

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.