Step 1: Excavate the soil

excavating soil to build a brick walkway
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Determine the desired width of your path and add 2 inches. Roughly mark out the positioning of the path at this width using a rope, garden hose, or spray paint. Using a spade, dig out the space between the markings to remove the top layer of soil. Dig until you see the color of the soil change (as shown). Place the excavated soil on a tarp to keep the area clean.
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    Tools List

    • square spade
      Spade
    • hand saw
      Handsaw
    • four-foot level
      4-foot level
    • tamper
      Hand tamper
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • mallet
      Deadblow mallet
    • push broom
      Push broom

    Shopping List

    1. BRICKS
    Choose bricks rated for severe weather (SW), also called "clay pavers" at the stone yard. Modular bricks measure 8 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 1½ inches thick, but actual dimensions can vary by as much as half an inch. Measure the bricks you like and figure out how many you'll need for your pattern. Depending on the pattern's waste, figure about five bricks per square foot

    2. GRADED BASE
    (a combination of crushed stone and stone dust), for creating a sturdy, porous base

    3. MASONRY SAND
    or stone dust, for creating a smooth, porous base between the graded base and the bricks

    4. 1x4 COMPOSITE LUMBER
    to use as temporary guides along the edges of the path as you set the bricks. Composite lumber is easier to bend for curves than standard lumber, though the latter will also work

    5. WOODEN STAKES
    at least 1½ feet long, to secure the guide rails in place

    6. 1 1/4-inch DECK SCREWS
    to temporarily attach the stakes to the guide rails

    7. 2x4 LUMBER
    to make a screed for shaping the sand

    8. GARDEN EDGING
    (optional) to hold together certain patterns of brick. Must go at least 6 inches into the ground