How to Install a Walkway

Sweeping stone walkway
Install a flagstone, gravel, or paver walkway in a weekend or less! Use these three DIY walkway ideas to add interest to your yard—our easy how-tos walk you through every step of the process.

Flagstone Walkway

Use flagstones to bring natural beauty to your walkway. This handsome and durable flagstone walkway makes a great addition to any yard. Follow these steps to learn how to build a walkway.

Expert Advice: Choose flagstones that are at least 3/4-inch thick; thinner pieces crack more readily. Purchase stones of fairly uniform thickness so they will be easy to lay evenly. Buy about 10 percent more than you think you'll need to allow for waste and breakage.

Get garden path inspiration.

Step 1: Cut Paving Stones

Using a masonry drill bit, cut walkway stones to the desired shape by drilling a series of small holes in the stone, about 1 inch apart. Use a hammer and chisel to gently break away the unwanted section of stone.

Expert Advice: When you're moving rock, watch your back. Remember to bend at the knees. Also, safety goggles, gloves, and sturdy shoes are a must.

Step 2: Edge The Perimeter

Use a garden spade to edge the perimeter of the path. Excavate the area (depth will depend on height of the pavers) and level the surface. Bend plastic edging to conform to the shape of the garden walkway and secure with rods.

Step 3: Lay Down Fabric

Lay down a sheet of permeable landscape fabric to prevent weeds from sprouting. Rake about an inch of sand over the fabric, making sure to keep the layer of sand as even as possible. You'll place the stones over the sand, so this ensures that your walkway is flat.

Step 4: Place Stones

Move paving stones into place, keeping gaps between stones 2 inches or less. Wiggle stones into the sand so they are at the same height.

Expert Advice: Many rocks have a dull side as well as an interesting one. Show off the best face of each of your walkway pavers.

Try one of these flagstone walkway designs.

Step 5: Fill Gaps

Fill gaps between flagstone pavers with decorative landscape rock, which is less messy than sand and more stable than pea gravel. Use graduated sizes (to ensure they fit together well) that are 1 inch or smaller in diameter. Use a large broom to help spread the rocks around.

Gravel Walkway

This gravel walkway is an inexpensive and informal option for getting around a yard. You can make a stone walkway any width, depending on whether it will be used for solitary strolling or for walking side by side. Larger stones placed along the edges act as a barrier to keep gravel from spreading into planting beds.

Get ideas for your gravel walkway layout.

Step 1: Level Walkway

Dig out the walkway to a depth of 2-4 inches, depending on the rocks and gravel chosen. Try to keep the width of the path consistent for a clean look.

Expert Advice: Gravel walkways are best suited to low-traffic areas and flat ground, where the gravel won't migrate downhill.

Step 2: Place Edge Stones

Place large stones single file along both edges. Choose stones matching in size and color for a sleek look, or choose rocks of mixed types and sizes for a more natural vibe. These serve both a decorative and practical purpose, as they mark out the path and prevent gravel from scattering.

Step 3: Lay Fabric

Unroll landscape fabric and cut it a few inches wider than the excavated area. Underlaying the gravel with porous landscaping fabric ensures that the walkway will stay weed-free and mud-free. Use landscape pins (these are metal pins that resemble oversized staples) to secure the fabric, or it may shift over time.

Step 4: Fill In Gravel

In addition to the pins, tuck the fabric edges under the walkway stones. Both will help keep the fabric secured. Fill the walkway with gravel and smooth. Now your rustic garden path is ready to be used!

Paver Walkway

All you need to install concrete walkway pavers is a firm, smooth base of sand and some sweat equity. Held in by sturdy edging, concrete pavers are easy to install and offer many of the virtues of concrete. Establish the width of the path by laying out a row of pavers. Choose a layout that requires minimal cutting. Your path should be at least 3 feet wide. Keep the path at least 2 feet away from trees, large bushes, and hedges.

This paver walkway provides a clean and attractive route through the yard. Concrete pavers offer a wide range of colors and patterns, are easy to install, and are relatively inexpensive. Interlocking paver blocks are also available, making the process of laying paver patios and paths even easier.

Expert Advice: To calculate the amount of sand (or gravel) you'll need for a paver walkway, multiply the path length (in feet) by width (in feet) and then multiply by the desired depth of sand (in feet) to determine cubic feet. Divide by 27 to determine cubic yards.

If you're stumped, use our patio pavers calculator.

Step 1: Mark Borders

Lay out a row or two of pavers to determine a configuration that won't require much cutting. Once you've determined the width (remember to account for the edging), mark each border with a string attached to stakes. Mark the borders directly onto the ground with chalk or spray paint.

Step 2: Excavate Path

After laying out your paver walkway, clear the area of plant materials and debris. With a shovel, dig a level trough approximately 6 inches deep. Slope the surface of the trench slightly away from structures to facilitate drainage (approximately 1 inch every 4-8 feet). Spread landscape fabric across the trench and up the sides. Add a 2-inch layer of gravel and tamp. 

Step 3: Install Edging

Install 2x4 plastic edging designed for pavers along the trench, mitering joints and fastening the edging into the ground with metal spikes every 4 feet. Level across the walkway to make sure the edges line up and lie flat.

Step 4: Fill With Sand

Fill the trench with coarse bedding sand, leaving enough depth for the pavers, and rake smooth. Dampen the sand, then level it by dragging a 2x6-inch piece of wood (width of the path). Add sand to low spots and remove sand that builds up. Tamp the soil firm, removing any roots 1/2 inch or more in diameter. Add steps if the walkway must incline more than 10 percent.

If desired, install the weed barrier. Make a screed from a 2x6, notching it equal to the thickness of the pavers. Add enough sand to form a 2-inch layer. Screed the sand to form a level bed. Moisten and tamp the sand until it is well packed and smooth.

Tamp the soil firm, removing any roots 1/2 inch or more in diameter. Add steps if the walkway must incline more than 10 percent.

Step 5: Start Laying Pavers

Follow these steps to learn how to lay pavers. Starting at the corner, lay the first few pavers snuggly against the edging. Use a rubber mallet to tap the pavers into place. Every few feet, use a level to check that the pavers are set at the same height. Make sure paver edges and joints are aligned.

Learn how to make various types of paver walkways.

Step 6: Cut Pavers

Rent a masonry saw to cut pavers if you lay them in a staggered pattern or if the path is curved. Or, cut the pavers manually by first scoring and then cutting them with a baby sledge and a brickset. Be aware of how the cut paver edge compares to the manufactured edges when laying them in place for a clean and consistent look. Use a framing square to true up the courses every few feet.

Expert Advice: Always use safety glasses, earplugs, and a face mask when operating a masonry saw.

Step 7: Fill In With Fine Sand

Finally, spread sand on the walkway. Pour fine silicate sand in the joints and more on top of the pavers. Use a broom to sweep sand into joints. Repeat this process until the joints between the pavers are filled. Tamp the surface periodically. When the joints are nearly full, sweep off excess sand and dampen the filled joints.

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