Before you dig into a pathway project, you need to understand what’s involved. There’s more to it than just laying them out on the ground. The Illustrations below show that the pavers sit on a two-layer base. The bottom layer is crushed stone that gets compacted to form a solid foundation. A layer of sand sits atop that to form a setting bed for the pavers. Both sides of the path are held in place with edging that keeps the pavers from shifting around. And sand gets swept between the pavers to lock them together, so they don’t move around underfoot.
Plan the Pathway
With these things in mind, you can start your project by drawing a sketch of your pathway. Take your time to measure accurately and draw your yard to close scale. Then make several photocopies of the drawing. That way, you can sketch multiple ideas for your path to determine its shape and location. Plus you can add measurements to this drawing to determine the quantity of pavers and other supplies you’ll need to buy.
Don’t be surprised, by the way, when you realize that a path of any size will call for hundreds of pavers, and possibly several tons of base rock and sand. The folks at the home center can help you calculate how much you’ll need. Then you can determine if you want to make multiple trips with a truck or have everything delivered.
Figure  Dig a shallow trench for your path foundation. Make it deep enough for the base, sand, and pavers, and a few inches wider than the path.
When you have your materials, it’s time to get out the shovel and excavate. You won’t be digging deep, but be sure to call first and have local utilities located. Then dig a flat-bottomed trench (Fig. 1).The depth should allow for the thickness of your pavers, a 1”-thick sand bed, and a base at least 2” thick. (If your soil is soft, plan on a 4″-thick base.)
Figure  Shovel in a layer of base stone, and then compact it to 2″ thick. Add stone and repeat until the base height is correct and the surface is flat and smooth.
Prepare the Base
Next, you need to compact the soil in the bottom of the trench using a plate compactor. You can rent one for about $60 per day. Run it over the bottom of the trench a couple times to firm up the soil.
Now add the crushed base stone (Fig. 2). Then compact the rock until it’s solid. If necessary, add more rock and compact again. This base layer needs to be smooth and flat.
Figure  Lay 1” conduit or PVC pipes on the base, and then pour in sand. Use a 2×4 to screed the sand level with the pipes, and then remove them.
With the base done, you need to add the edging that will hold the pavers in place. You can either measure and install the edging on both sides of the path, or just edge one side, and then do the other after the pavers are in. That depends on the edging you use, the path shape, and the pavers. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Make the Bed
The sand comes next. The best way to ensure a consistent thickness is to lay 1” pipes on the base, cover them with sand, and then spread the sand with a 2×4 (Fig. 3). Then remove the pipes and fill in the gaps.
Figure  Lay edging, and then set the pavers gently on the sand bed. Then sweep sand between the pavers, and go over them with the plate compactor.
Place the Pavers
Now it’s time to lay the pavers (Fig 4). Set them gently on the sand. Don’t hammer or press them in. If pavers need to be cut, you can do that as you go. Or just leave out the ones that need cut for now, and do all the cutting at once later on.
Once everything is in, sweep dry sand over the path, and work it between the bricks with the plate compactor. Finally, fill dirt in along the edges of the path.
Have a nice weekend,
Online Editor, Workbench