Dear James: I noticed a friend's brick walkway and how nice it makes her landscaping look. Is this a long, expensive project to have a contractor install, or do you think I could handle it with minimal expense and help? -- Eric C.
Dear Eric: Brick walks are both beautiful and simple to install. The best part about them is you can complete the project at your own pace. There is no rush to finish a step or waiting for hours as something dries.
You can take your time, as long as you don't mind a mess in your front yard. But in the end, the look of your new brick walk will be worth a little mess. It can make the colors and textures of your landscaping seem to jump out at you.
Brick walks can compliment your landscape design by being both functional and attractive. With the many colors of brick available, as well as the different patterns you can make with the bricks, it is easy to make your landscape look even better.
There are three types of bricks: paver, building and face. Paver bricks are very strong and sturdy. Manufacturers make them specifically for use without mortar for walkways, driveways and patios. Paver bricks are clay baked at a high temperature for a very long time.
Building bricks, or common bricks, are the most economical of the three. These are especially suitable for walkways because there are many sizes and colors available. Face bricks are made so all bricks are the same color, size and texture. These are more expensive than the common brick. The average brick measures 35-/8" X 2-1/4" X 8" and weighs about 4 lbs.
You can lay bricks in either open or closed joints. Since you will probably not be using mortar, closed joints are best. The bricks are tightly butted together. The easiest pattern to make with closed joints is a running bond pattern.
This is the most commonly seen pattern in brick walls and walks. Two other patterns are herringbone and basket weave. These are more difficult to lay, but add a little different style than the running bond pattern.
To calculate the area of the path, first let your supplier know which pattern you will be using so the materials can be estimated correctly. Make the walkway at least 3 to 4 feet wide so two people can walk comfortably side by side.
Dig out the area about 5 inches in depth and about 4 inches wider than you want the completed path to be. Layout the shape of your walkway using stakes and strings. Install your edging -- either bricks or wood -- along one side of the path using sand to bring them up to your desired level.
After you have finished the edging, smooth out the bottom and lay down a PVC shield or weed block fabric as a weed barrier. Level each brick by filling in with sand, using the edging as a guide. Once the width of the walkway is complete add the second edging. To finish, sweep sand in between the bricks and moisten, repeating this three times.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.