Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Paver Walkway

Enough already. With April bringing a record amount of rainfall in Ohio, certain non grassy areas of  our backyard have turned into some serious mud pits. The nastiness of it all is compounded when we let our four legged stud out three times a day. that equals twelve muddy paws everyday. We simply could not take it anymore and something had to be done. So we went after the main culprit, a 17' x 4' walkway (in most areas) that runs between the house and detached garage and leads from the deck out to the open backyard. 

We noticed that this area hardly ever sees much daylight being up against the garage and covered by our huge maple tree so growing and maintaining grass would be a tough task. Thats when we turned to the idea of a paver walkway.

We did some research online and found plenty of helpful sources. We'll break our process down step by step.

1st - We measured the square footage in which the walkway would be. To get your square footage, measure your width by your length. Multiply the the two & boom there's your square footage. To get the sq. ft. for more confusing shapes go here for a great tutorial. Our sq. ft. Ended up being 84 sq. ft.

2nd - Mark the area as precisely as possible. We snapped a couple paint stirrers in thirds and used some extra string we had laying around to mark out our area. We used some scotch tape to secure the string to each marker and stuck the markers in the ground every couple of feet around the perimeter.

4th - Dig dig dig. Of course call 811 or your local buried utilities hotline and ask them to mark any hazardous buried lines before digging (More on that in another post). Your gonna need to dig at least 5-7 inches down anywhere your patio/walkway will be. If your area will see a lot of foot traffic consider going down 10-12 inches. We went about 6 inches since our walkway won't see too much foot traffic. VERY IMPORTANT: Every source we read urged not to skimp on this step as a walkway with a shallow base will shift over time from weather, roots and weeds. Also when measuring remember to factor in the height of the paver you want your walkway or patio to sit just about the soil that is around it.

I can't forget to mention that my parents helped from beginning to end. This made things soo much easier!
5th - Once your area has been dug down to your desired depth (ours was 6 inches deep), measure throughout to ensure all areas meet this depth.

6th - Next you need to begin making your base. Begin with a 1st step crushed gravel. Found in the garden/patio area of any big home imprvement store we used Quikrete's crushed gravel. In my best yet very unprofessional opinion, you'll want to fill your base two thirds deep with this. Or enough to leave no more than an inch and a half of sand (the next layer). We started with a layer of crushed gravel about 2 inches deep throughout the entire area.

7th - Spray & Tamp! At this point we had read on a few blogs to slightly dampen the crushed gravel. This makes it easier to "tamp". We used a garden hose and nozzle on "mist" to dampen the curshed gravel. Next you'll need to tamp or compact your layer of gravel. The goal is to push the gravel down as much as possible creating a very dense layer. You can rent a tamper, but we did ours by laying a large piece of plywood down over the gravel and then slamming a sledgehammer into the plywood repeatedly. We did this a few times up and down the walkway & it really seemed to do the trick.

8th - Next we repeated the previous step with another layer of crushed gravel only this time it was about 1 inch deep for a total of 3 inches of crushed gravel. We dampened the gravel once again. Finish by conducting a serious tamping session to make sure your crushed gravel is as compact as possible. For our area and depth it took us about 30 bags of crushed gravel.

9th - Time to lay on the sand! We used a Quikrete Paver Sand which is exactly what you want to use. We do not recommend using playsand or some other sand that is not specifically meant to be used with pavers, patios or walkways. We laid an inch of sand down throughout the entire area, which took about 16 bags of sand.

10th - Tamp again! We tamped the entire area throughougly one more time. This time around we did not wet the sand like we did the gravel since the sand already seemed a little wet, probably from sitting outside at Lowe's.

11th - Level the entire area! This is extremely important as this is the last layer before the pavers. We used a 2'x4' and gently scrapped the top of the sand throughout the walkway to level everything out. Here's a couple resource on how to do this. We finished by using a long level and checkig all areas to get things as close to level as possible.

12th - Pavers! Finally we were onto laying our pavers. It seemed like this step would never come! There are a million different styles of pavers and cobblestones out there both at the big home improvement stores but also throughout the various landscaping shop. We knew we wanted to keep this project on the cheap so we decided to go with a very basic 12" square cement paver. As a bonus when we went to Lowe's to start the project the pavers were on sale from $1.09 to $.91, a savings of $15.48 for the project. We slowly placed each paver into it's spot leaving as little room between each as possible. Once the paver was laid we would give it a few good smacks with a rubber mallet to try and get the paver to really sit in the sand. Since most of our walkway was 4 pavers wide we ran a string down the middle to ensure that we wouldn't get off centered or start going at an angle.

13th - After all the pavers were in place it was onto the polymeric sand.

This sand is used to fill the cracks between the pavers and helps with keeping pavers in place. The directions were very adamant on not letting this sand sit on the pavers so we used a small shovel and went crack by crack. Using a small broom we attempted to sweep as much sand into the cracks as possible.

After the cracks have been filled (that's what she said) we gave the entire walkway a light misting from the hose. So far it looks like the pavers are sitting pretty well but we plan on hitting the walkway with a couple more sessions of the polymeric sand just to makes sure we don't have any loose pavers anytime soon.

So now our favorite part, the BEFORE & AFTER!



So there she is. You may have noticed we also planted a few extra hostas (these were planted in a less seen area of the backyard before we moved them) on both sides of the walkway which also has also helped enhance the area. We threw in some fresh dirt and topsoil to boot and now all that's missing is mulch and a few walkway lights. All and all it took us about 8 hours and cost roughly $220 and most importantly...less dirty paws! Whacha think?

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