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How to Lay the Base for a Brick Path

This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook shows how to prep the ground for a beautiful brick walkway


1. Pull up the old bricks and stack them neatly beside the pathway.

2. Use a pointed spade to dig out all the sand from the pathway. Shovel the sand into a wheelbarrow and discard.

3. Dig a 6-inch-deep trench along both edges of pathway for soldier courses of bricks.

4. Adjust the orange grade line so the pathway will slope away from the house ¼ inch per foot.

5. Run a plate compactor back and forth over the excavated pathway to compact the soil.

6. Spread a 2- to 3-inch-deep base of ¾ inch crushed stone mixed with stone dust over the pathway.

7. Run a plate compactor over the crushed-stone base. Use a hand tamper to compact corners and other areas missed by the plate compactor.

8. Add another 2 inches of crushed stone and compact again.

9. Use the claw of a mason's hammer to dig a shallow trench along both sides of the pathway for installing form boards.

10. Install a composite decking form board, aligning it with the yellow line; secure the border with wooden stakes.

11. Raise form board to the orange line and secure it to the wooden stakes with 2-inch screws.

12. Install the second form board in the trench along the opposite edge of the pathway.

13. Cut 2x4 spacers equal to the inside width of the pathway, and set them between the two form boards.

14. Raise the form to the orange line and screw it to the stakes.

15. Spread about 1 inch of stone dust over the excavated pathway and compact it flat.