Garden Walkway...if I Can Do It, So Can You!

Introduction: Garden Walkway...if I Can Do It, So Can You!

About: Full time welder part time knife/cane maker and guitar junkie. I love working with wood, metal & glass. I love all things nature and enjoy the details thereof.

This is a tutorial on how you can install a paver pathway in YOUR garden or where ever you see fit.
This project can be done in a weekend depending on your enthusiasm & planning, its always nice to have help too. During viewing of pictures, if there is a yellow box on it, just mouse over it to view info about it.

I had came up with this idea by just spotting a sale on pavers at the local mega store. I believe I paid 25 cents a piece for them.

Helpful tips:
Whenever you do a project be resourceful! look around the hidden spots of your garage & yard or neighborhood mega trash day or start collecting used bricks from demolition sites or wherever (just get permission first). Try and come up with ideas to incorporate the findings into your project. Be creative, use your imagination if you don't have any ideas then brainstorm with someone else for help or inspiration. Also look thru magazines, watch DIY shows or just sit and contemplate on what you would like to see.

I had used railroad ties that I had been saving which made a nice and sturdy border for my project.
I also have some old railroad track anchor plates and spikes that I intend to install on top of the RR ties to connect them all together for added strength, support and appeal. (I am an antique junkie!)

Step 1: Getting Started.

This is my garden which I had built a couple of years earlier. I put down a pea gravel pathway through the center which I had recently decided to change to pavers. You can do this project anywhere you would like a walkway though.

For this tutorial I will be installing the pathway down the center of my wife's garden.

Step 2: Supplies and Want Not!

You will need to decide on what type of stone you want to put down. I bought these because they were on sale and I thought they would match the purple leaf sand cherry trees and other plantings in the garden area as well.

This is just a list of what I had purchased some things I already had by just scrounging around my place.

Store purchases:
pavers or other stone (depending on your walkway size, get dimensions and tell them to an intelligible mega-store employee to determine how many to buy, always buy a few more just in case.)
playsand (depending on your walkway size, get dimensions and tell them to an intelligible mega-store employee to determine how many to buy, usually comes in 40-50 lb bags.)
paver locking sand (one bag of this is probably all you need, its kinda expensive anyway)
paving base/patio stone (depending on your walkway size, get dimensions and tell them to an intelligible mega-store employee to determine how many to buy, usually comes in 40-50 lb bags.)
landscape fabric (once again, use your best judgment. depending on width and length of pathway.)

Tools and equipment:
safety glasses (use your own judgment! I am not responsible for your accidents!)
shovel (a square ended one works nice but don't go buy one if yours is rounded, it will work too!)
rake or hoe (to level out paving base and sand)
wheelbarrow or buckets or pickup truck (to haul or move excess dirt away, I used it to fill the low spots in my yard then added grass seed) (make a raised flower bed, once creative with the leftovers!)
tape measure
wooden stakes or sticks (I used super long nail spikes that were laying around)
string or twine (for marking off digging area, I used my boat anchor rope)
Level (if you dont have a long level just use a straight board ie...2x4 or whatever with a small level)
rubber mallet or hammer use a rock if you don't have one! (for driving in the stakes or sticks is all)
hand tamper or if you have a motorized one (if you don't have either then just be creative with something heavy and flat if you still don't have anything then just walk/stomp real heavy up and down where needed to compact it)
hand saw or chainsaw (to cut railroad ties or border edging)
angle grinder with all purpose cutting disc (to cut pavers) if you don't have one you can try your luck with a cold chisel, just buy extra pavers just in case.
railroad ties (I got mine free) or other material for border (plastic paver edging, 2 by's, landscape timber, something for paver support, edge material. Try not to use rocks, you need something long if possible).

Step 3: Deciding Where and How Big.

Well...I knew where I wanted it so I decided on how wide I needed to make it.
First I had purchased some pavers (about 20 or so) and put them in the position
that I had planned to install them. It was just a simple staggered position 5 pavers wide. I took that width measurement, then I measured how wide the railroad ties were that I had x 2 and that is how I came up with my total width.

I then laid them end to end the whole length of the pathway intended leaving room for the RR ties on each end (which I knew from previous measurement approx. 9 inches wide.) and took the paver length measurement then added the width of the RR ties (9 inches) x 2 again and got my total length.
so if I confused you then 1 RR tie width + length of paver walkway + 1 RR tie width.

I then took a tape measure and measured out the width (RR tie width x 2 + desired paver walkway width) at the beginning and put stakes in to mark it.
I did the same at the end of the pathway.
Drive the stakes into the ground with the rubber mallet pretty deep so they don't pull out when you pull the twine or rope tight.

I then took my rope and made a loop and slipped it over one of the stakes then, pulling it tight, wrapped it around the one next to it and so on to create a rectangular box outline. Remember to pull the string tight each time prior to wrapping it around the next stake to prevent any slack in the line. (your shooting for a straight as possible line to each stake.) This will be your digging area! (I don't have a picture of this step, look at picture #4 for an example.)

Now you will need to decide on how deep you want to go. Keep in mind that there are recommendations to the depth of each material that you will use i.e. ...paving base, playsand. (read the bag for suggested depth of product to apply.) I believe both patio stone and playsand recommends about 3 inch depth of product after compaction. write those numbers down and measure the thickness of your stone pavers and add that to the figure.

Now the fun begins! dig out the respected area to the desired depth. (paving base + playsand + stone thickness) I used a long level to try and get it level as possible with a slight slope for water drainage (slope to whichever way you want the water to run off, not a drastic slope though, you don't want it to be too noticeable.) once this is achieved go to step #4 unless using RR ties.

The fourth picture here is where I had marked off where the pavers will go and outside the twine will be where the railroad ties will be placed. The RR ties were taller so this is why I did this step to determine where the pavers will be placed so I could dig out the area for the RR ties to sit down into.
(I didn't want the RR ties to be sticking up past the walkway to far.)
I had dug down an extra 3 inches all the way around the twine to compensate for the height.

Step 4: Lets Get Started! (enough Digging Already!)

The first thing that I did was lay down my landscape fabric here. It wasn't wide enough for the path, I just put down two rows which overlapped each other, that's ok. (more protection the better!)
I then added the patio stone in the area where the RR ties will be placed and then raked it level, then compacted it with the hand tamper.

I didn't cover the raised part with patio stone because I wanted to set the RR ties in first.
As you can probably tell the dug out area is a little wider than whats needed, that's ok, I will drive wooden stakes into the ground on the outside of the RR ties to help keep them from moving away from
pavers later on.

(its not necessary to dig this area wider because you can still put the stakes in without having the extra room. Just make sure you drive them into the ground until they are about half the thickness of the RR ties. under soil, not visible when soil is pushed back up against the RR ties.)

You then need to put sand on top of compacted paving base and level it out with a rake or hoe but don't compact sand.

Step 5: Creating the Box (border) If Using Some Sort of Timber.

I measured the full length of pathway.
I then measured the length of the RR ties and determined they needed cut down to fit, rather than cutting just one down on each side and making a small RR tie section per side. I split the difference and cut each RR tie, the longer the better, for stability.
So, in essence, the ties on the sides are of equal lengths.
I then put them in place as picture #2 shows and used the hand tamper to help seat them.
Next I poured in the paving base, picture #3 and raked it smooth, picture #4.
I then took the hand tamper and compacted it, picture #5.
Followed by adding the sand, picture #6 and raking it out smooth, picture #7.
Picture #8 is of the sand, not compacted! I ran a screed over it (screed: a board, I used a 2x4 x the width of paver area, two pieces of scrap wood screwed in at each end to sit on top of RR ties, set at the depth of the pavers (approx. 1 1/2) to smooth out the sand. I kept adding sand and using the screed until it looked like this, picture #8 with no major holes.).

Step 6: Finishing the Project!

The final step is to start at one end preferably at the entrance and start laying in the first row length wise.
when you get to the end and the paver doesn't fit, then use your tape measure and take the measurement leaving a small gap on the side you intend to cut (for locking-sand to fill into).

The next step is to cut the first starting paver, on the next row over, in half. This will start your staggered pattern (if this is the pattern you intend to do). Place this paver in next to the first row, leaving a small gap in front for sand to fill into. Then lay the rest of that row in place trying to keep the joints in the middle of the first row.

The third row (don't cut the first one), just start laying them in all the way to the end and repeat step #1 when you get to the end. You may have to do this step to all the rows if necessary! (usually if you plan it out right with the paver measurements, you may not have to cut the even number of rows at the end, I did have to cut them, but not much to really make a difference in appearance. People...don't fret if this happens "it's just a walkway!" (unless its a million dollar estate you live in...if that's the case you probably wouldn't be doing this yourself anyway you'd have a professional do it!) "I'm not a professional anything, just a helper!"

Back to the work at hand!
The fourth row starting paver will be cut in half to start, then lay the rest down keeping them in the center of the row next to it.

Assuming you have five rows like mine:
Start out the last row with an uncut paver and follow through to the end were you know what you'll have to do if it doesn't fit.

After all the pavers are in place take your rubber mallet and tap all of the pavers down to seat them in place use a level as you go to get them all at the same height. Walking heavy on them works as an alternative to the rubber mallet. (DO NOT USE A HAMMER OR THE HAND TAMPER ON THEM AS I HAVE LEARNED YOU WILL SPLIT THEM!) its kinda tough to get them out after this happens to replace them but it can be done, I did it to one of them and had to change it out. This is the reason to purchase extra pavers plus bad cuts and want not that may happen.

Almost finished!
Now take your bag of paver locking sand and open it up and use an old cup to scoop some out and shake over the pavers (the bag is heavy that is why I use a plastic cup) sprinkle this sand over entire surface of pavers and use a broom to sweep it into the joints. You will need to repeat this step multiple times until all of the joints are filled with the locking sand.

Now take your garden hose "on fine mist, not to spray sand away and out of joints" do this step and you will probably notice that you have gaps again...that's o.k. just let this dry for 24 hrs. and then sprinkle more sand in all the gaps use the broom to get it down in there then use the garden hose again on fine mist you may still have gaps after using the hose! Trust me wait 24 hrs until dry then repeat. Repeat as often as necessary until the joints are completely filled. you won't regret it! But please do it or you might later. If it rains during your steps that's fine just fill gaps if any after the sun comes out and dries everything up. You should have plenty of paver locking sand left, just store it in a cool dry place for any future repairs, if any!

You should be finished! Enjoy your new pathway! PLEASE GIVE IT 48 HRS FOR CURE TIME BEFORE HEAVY TRAFFIC!
For periodic maintenance, just sweep debris off of pavers, and in the spring, check to see if the winters frost may have opened any gaps between pavers. I have gone through one winter (in Indiana) after installing this and so far have not had to fill any gaps or anything, "looks good as the day it was installed!"

Step 7: Random Pictures of Garden Project.

These are just some pictures to maybe give you some ideas or whatever, enjoy! Mouse over pics for info.

This was my first pathway project and I really enjoyed building it as I do with all my projects I attempt at!
IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS, QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS: post it or write me and I will try and get you a response as soon as possible. HAVE FUN & HAPPY CREATING!

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    8 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice. I like the little touches you threw in, like the gingerbread and the wrench. Good job.

    Do not do this in a vegetable garden. Railroad ties have Creosote or Pentachlorophenol, both will leach into the soil and poison the veggies, in turn poisoning you. Green-tinted wood has arsenic and is bad too.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    this is really nice do u have a pic of the finished walkaway thanks


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you mostery! Step 6 shows the finished walkway. Best regards, NAG


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice. I hope to have my paver walkway 'ible up pretty soon. I'm sure you'll appreciate it. Enjoy your garden.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, I will check periodically to see if your walkway 'ible is posted.