Installing pavers for a walkway, patio, or driveway isn't an easy job, but it is something that an ambitious DIYer can take on, hopefully with the help of a few willing friends. It's heavy work, but the end result is something that looks gorgeous, provides a real enhancement to any home, and will last for years.
Step 1 - Get Ready
Figure out where you want your walkway to run. A relatively level area is the easiest area to work with, but you will want your finished walkway to have a slight slope away from your house to direct rainwater away (1/4" should be enough). It's a good idea to decide what size pavers you are going to use before determining the final dimensions of your walkway. Pavers do vary in size so choose a paver size (and a pattern) that will be easy to work with and accommodate your design.
With the paver size finalized, you can lay out your walkway. Use string and stakes to make your outline.
Step 2 - Prepare the Base
Now the hard work begins. You'll need to dig out the area you've marked for your walkway. If you're just building a walkway, you should excavate about six or seven inches, but if you are going to be running equipment like a lawn tractor over the walkway, you should go a little deeper -- eight to nine inches would be good. You want your excavation to be deep enough to accommodate the compacted gravel, a 1 1/2-inch layer of compacted sand or stone dust, and the height of the pavers themselves. Once you are down deep enough, remove any loose rocks and roots and roughly level the bottom of your excavation.
Pour in three to four inches of small aggregate gravel or crushed rock and pack it down using a rented compactor. If you are building your walkway to accommodate the lawn tractor, add the gravel in two stages. Compact the first four inches and then add the next layer and compact it. Use a screed board to level your gravel layers before compacting them.
Step 3 - Edge it
Before you go any further, you need to install edging to contain the pavers. Plastic edging is the least conspicuous and is easy to install -- just nail it in place using 12" galvanized nails directly into the ground -- but you could use pressure-treated boards or 4 x 4's as well.
Once the edging is in place, add the sand or stone dust, and then compact and level it. Now's the time to make the slight grade running away from your house onto the sand base. Make one side of your screed board 1/4" higher than the other and you will be able to smooth the sand surface while leaving the necessary slope.
Step 4 - Install the Walkway
Finally, start setting the pavers in, following your pattern. Just lay the pavers onto the surface of the area with the edges touching -- don't press them down or they won't be level. Use strings crisscrossed over the pathway to help you align the pavers. Once all the pavers have been laid in, spread sand or stone dust over the surface and sweep it into the seams. Run the compactor over the entire surface to firm up the walkway, and then add some more sand to totally fill the seams.
That's it. You've installed your new walkway. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but you've added to the value of your home. However, the really good news is the walkway should last longer than you, so you won't ever have to do it again.