Dear James: I have a slightly curved concrete walkway from my driveway to my front door. I am on a limited budget, but I would like to jazz it up with some trim or something. What would you recommend for me to do? -- Jan F.
Dear Jan: A gently curved walkway can be made to look very attractive and distinctive with simple red paver (brick) edging. The pavers will be placed perpendicular to the walkway. The concept is simple, but to make it look good with little maintenance, the initial installation is tiring, backbreaking work. When you are done, you will feel it was worth the effort.
The most difficult part of this project is cutting the sod along the walkway and folding it back on itself. Use a sharp flat-nosed spade to slip under the grass along the walkway. Make sure to keep the spade level with the grass so you don't cut too deep making it difficult to handle. If you tilt the blade up, you will cut too shallow and cut right through the grass.
Cut the sod back to a distance about twice the length of the pavers. Gently fold the sod back on itself. Moisten the soil and roots on the folded sod especially if it is exposed to the sun. Also be careful not to walk on the sod so you don't traumatize the roots more than necessary.
Dig the soil down to a depth of about six inches if you are using standard-size pavers. Once you have the soil cleared away on each side of the walkway, use a tamping tool to compact the dirt for a stabile base. You can rent a tamping tool inexpensively at most tool rental shops.
On top of the dirt, lay a two-inch thick layer of crushed rock. Use a piece of 2x10 lumber to make a spreader to roughly level the gravel bed next to the walkway. Tamp it down again with the tamping tool for a solid base.
Put about a one-inch layer of sand over the crushed rock. Saw a notch equal to the depth of the pavers in the piece of 2x10 to make another screed. Slide the notched edge of the screed along the walkway.
The unnotched part that hangs down over the edge will smooth the sand to the proper depth. It is important to have the bricks even with the walkway surface so people don't stumble on them and to make it easier to shovel off snow.
Place the pavers as close together as possible over the sand bed. Using the wooden handle end of a heavy maul, tap each paver lightly into the sand bed. Place some plastic edging against the outside edge of the pavers to hold them against the walkway. Drive long spikes through the edging into the ground to hold the edging in place.
Pour silica sand over the pavers and use a broom to brush it into the gaps. Lay the sod back over again and cut off the excess so it just meets the pavers. Press the sod down lightly and keep it moist for several days for the roots to take hold again.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.