With simple tools and no masonry experience, you can turn a pile of old broken bricks into a handsome patio or garden path. Or you can make a surface for the watering cans next to a garden spigot or lay out an area about the size of a throw rug by your back door.
Broken bricks lend themselves to free-form mosaic designs rather than the tidy herringbone, basketweave, and running-bond patterns you might see in a formal garden. Fitting the bricks together is a little like working a puzzle: You let the bricks help define the design, which can be as random or fanciful as you like. No two projects look the same. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your very own brick design!
In addition to old bricks, you'll need gravel and sand to form the base. The staff at a building-supply retailer will be able to help you figure out how much material you need for the size of your project.
Use a mason's hammer to break a brick into smaller pieces or chip old mortar off bricks. Use the tamper to compress the sand-and-gravel base. A dead-blow rubber mallet sets the bricks in place.
Excavate the area and lay a base of about 1 1/2 inches of gravel. Tamp down the gravel and top with 1 1/2 inches of masonry sand. Establish a brick edge first and then place a couple of odd-shape stones into the design. Fill in with brick pieces; tamp the bricks into place with a mallet.
Place the bricks as close together as possible. This is where you have free reign on your new patio; the size and shape of your bricks may suggest fanciful patterns.
After the bricks are in place, use a shovel to spread sand over the area. Sweep the sand between the bricks with a broom. You might need to add more sand and sweep the area a couple of times to fill in all the gaps.