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How to make a level walk on a sloped lawn? Answered

My property is on a slope.  I need to make a new walk and want it to be level when I walk on it,  plus I need to somehow make sure water will drain off the walk, so it doesn't freeze in winter.  Also I plan on using stepping stones.  Need some home experts information and advice.  thanks



there are some great answers here, and all are correct. it all comes down to the specifics of what the topography is like.

Here's some more information, I'll try not to repeat any of the other answers.

re: water drainage
I would advise against a 'crown' or 'buldge' method, as they are tricky to make correctly and nowhere near as easy as just sloping the walk. The minimum slope for any surface to drain effectively is 2%.

re: walkway
You mention that you want a walkway, then go on to say that you plan on using stepping stones. If you're using stepping stones (aka pavers) then there is little need to slope anything, just dig a level cavity in your lawn and place pavers. Ensure you have a permeable surface under the pavers like sand to allow for proper drainage.

If you want more specific information from the community it would help to include more information in your question, and maybe some drawn plans (with grades).
Good luck.

Thank you for the info, I will try to upload a picture of the area and hope there is more someone can tell me, It is taking me sometime to work at this project as it will be incorporated with a stone wall project i am working on also. thanks again,

You cannot have a true "level" walk and also have water drain off it. That's contradictory.

You can either make the walk "crowned," with a bulge so that the center is higher than the edges, or your can give it a slight slope. The slope can be very small (as little as 1 inch per 10 feet), and water will still run off of it.

If you property is sloped, eventually the walk way will have to slope to get from your house to the property line. To limit that grade (for example to meet wheelchair access of 1:12), you can make the walk long, with switchbacks.

How much of a grade do you have to contend with? To get a level walk area you may have to step the walk. The standard slope for drainage is 1/4" drop per foot of run or 1" of drop for every 4' of run.

If you can construct the walk in a straight run with no steps, drive a stake at each corner of both ends of the walk. Run a string line between the stakes on each side of the walk. Level the line between each stake making sure both strings are the same height. Determine the length of the walk then calculate the amount of drop required to maintain 1/4" per foot slope (i.e. a 20' walk would require 5" of drop from start to end). Measure the drop required for your run of walk from the string down the stake and make a mark. Lower that end of the string to the mark. You should now have a uniform slope for your walk.

Assuming you want you walk to be the same elevation as the ground, you will need to excavate the bed of the walk to a depth that equals the thickness of your paving stones plus 1 or 2 inches of substrate (normally sand or pea gravel). Place your substrate material in the excavated path and rake it out to make it uniform and level. Measure down from the string to ensure a uniform height. Once you have your substrate down you can begin placing your pave stones to form your walk. Tamp the stones into the sand to level them.


7 years ago

If you do use string they have these little string levelers that you can find at the hardware store. They have a bubble vial in them and they clip on the string so you can tell if it is high or low.
A little more sophisticated is a laser level. In the daylight they can be hard to see.
A much older method is to use a garden hose filled with water. The water will settle to the same place at both ends of the hose (turned up to keep the water in). Clear plastic hose works best for this.

If you want to have water drain off it then you need to put a little curve in it. Make it a little higher in the middle than at the edges. They do this with roads, the high middle part is called a crown.

Run a level string line the length of your walk. Place it a couple of inches above the height you want to make the walk. The string line is nothing more than two stakes with a string between them that has been confirmed level. Move the end of the string on your "low" end down a bit on that ends stake. Now as you set your stones in place you just tamp them down to a uniform distance from the string. That will give you a very gentle slope. How much is up to you. A second line set to the same height on the opposite side of the first will keep the stones level side to side.

Remember you can't just dig a hole and drop the stepping stones in. It's better to use a substrate for drainage and edge out the path.