Laying paver bricks is something I have wanted to try for a while. Mr. Ethereal and I have finally figured out how we want our backyard to look so for my first attempt at laying bricks I began with a troublesome area of our yard ~ our trash bin area. Let’s begin this DIY home tutorial and lay some bricks!…
I began this brick laying project about a month ago when I set all these keystone bricks as the border for our family’s trash area. This area sits just outside our back fence gate and next to our roll-up garage door in the alleyway and it is constantly muddy. Definitely needed a refresh!
Level both across and width-wise adding sand/dirt underneath to get each brick nice and level. Set the next bricks the same way leveling the first row across all bricks. You can turn the bottom row upward to create a stop-fence for the successive rows. I didn’t need to do that for this project since bricking will butt up to these keystone bricks.
Keystone bricks are awesome as they are already pre-made to break in the middle. Just score your brick with a flat brick chisel then repeatedly hit with a hammer to fracture it. This brick broke beautifully for me!
I used a small level, both flat and spade-edged shovels, my trusty garden trowel for putting dirt underneath each brick, and a lot of elbow grease!
I dug out the dirt from underneath the wooden fence and leveled the area tamping it with our square tamper (that tool to the right of the flat shovel). All the removed dirt I moved into the two flower beds I made last summer and last fall.
Bonus prizes!! Former homeowners had set in this round and a couple of flat wide bricks and a metal edging to try and deal with the mud. I also found a round medallion for a rose bush which used to be on this site, which I kept. Sentimental, I know… 🙂
It only took two days (about 4-5 hours each day) to level the dirt under the wooden fence and put in/level each one-to-two-level stack of red and black keystone bricks.
I curved this section to make a nice edging mirroring the curved cement driveway transition into our garage. And to prep for Phase Two…
This photo shows the lower set of brick which are buried and are more for support. Some of the Old Town bricks were also used to fill gaps as needed. In back are some of the materials used in this project: the 15″ x 15″ main pavers, bags of sand for underlayment and the keystone bricks themselves.
I chose a combination of keystone brick, wide brick pavers (approx. 15″x 15″) in a red/black mixed color, and regular-size Holland Old Town Blend pavers from Home Depot (not sponsored; I wish!) to make an interesting combination of bricks to fill this area.
Begin by taking out dirt to create a level space to add in sand. Be aware that this takes A LOT of physical work. I removed dirt, some tree roots and a bunch of weeds and acorns getting this mostly level. For bigger projects, a rented electric tamper would make this really level. For my project I just used our hand tamper and eyeballed the leveling.* I also ran a long 2×4 across the dirt to help level the area.
Note: Enough dirt needs to be excavated to leave room for gravel (if needing drainage underneath) plus a couple of inches of sand plus the top height of the bricks to be flush with the surrounding edging/walkway/keystone bricks.
Lay down and pin landscape fabric into the dirt below. I used three pieces of this fiberglass-type fabric here and make sure to overlap each piece by about 8″. This keeps the sand and mortar from seeping below, and also keeps any weeds from rising up to crack through your brick project.
Dry run your bricks
Lay in your outer bricks and cut any to fill gaps. I had some trouble here as I have a tile saw and tile blades but not a brick or paver saw blade, so I had to break bricks by hand… If you have the right saw, use it! 😉
Use a large square to help align your edging bricks and then begin laying the larger bricks from that 90 degree corner. Add sand in low areas and recheck for level in both horizontal directions on each brick AND brick to brick. Use a long level for this step.
Score and hammer off sections of brick as needed to fit each section as you go. This was tricky and didn’t always work as I would have liked so I filled in the final section with these wonky pieces.
Here I was adding in sand underneath so moving small piles of sand closer to the work area was helpful.
Ready for sand! In the dirt section below I’ll add some Sweet Alyssum seeds to beautify this area. Alyssum grows well in clay soil and doesn’t require much maintenance.
This was another two days of work where I finished around 4:00pm and left brushing in the sand for the next day (third day).
Use the right sand
First I swept in the underlayment crushed granite sand, which normally would have been fine… Except I realized I wanted this to be permanent and keep out weed growth and to let water to run off this paved area.
So… I had to brush most of the sand back out of the cracks and use paver set sand instead. This paver sand is much finer and gets underneath the edges of your pavers to really bond and hold all the bricks together.
Tamp tamp tamp
This paver set sand works great but your pavers have to be really dry to use it. Take a small container and pour paver set sand around each joint and then just brush it in with your work broom.
Follow the directions on your container of paver set sand for this section as you go, and finish this with tamping each brick with a shovel handle (flip your shovel upside down to use he handle rubber top) to compact the paver sand.
After it settles the first time, add more paver set sand and tamp again. Repeat until the sand stays put at about 1/4″ below the top of each brick.
Finished set pavers two days later after plastic was removed.
The final step is to gently spray-mist the paver set sand following the manufacturer’s directions. This brand had me gently spray it until it wouldn’t accept any more water, then let that water soak in, then spray again. Repeat until each section won’t accept anymore water without causing white foam to run on top of the bricks. Wipe off any white foam so the bricks won’t look hazy when dry.
Cover with plastic for 72 hours to help slowly cure the paver set sand and then uncover and enjoy! This little brick patio is ready for its trash bins!
*This brick trash bin storage area project turned out pretty good. I only have one real boo-boo spot at the front left side where the Old Town bricks butt up against the existing tabby walkway ~ it’s a little low spot which collects water, but I can live with that! 😌 I asked Mr. Ethereal how I would fix it and he said I’d have to remove a few bricks and reset them. If you have an area like that as you build your brick patios and walkways, feel free to reset your bricks as needed.
Thank you for sharing any of these photos!
Please leave me a comment and do let me know if this helps you in the future when you are laying bricks. I’ll be doing more outdoor projects as we move into summer, so check back for more. Thanks!
French Ethereal is a lifestyle blog sharing tips on decorating, table settings, crafts, gardening, DIY and travel. I love an elegant Shabby Chic/Old World French decor all decorated with Faith. <3
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