Guidelines on how-to-build-a-sidewalk in existing landscape

Ever wondered how-to-build-a-sidewalk into an existing landscape? This is a step by step description of the progress. When I built a new sidewalk through a yard to connect two frequently used acess points. It involved tearing up existing lawn and following the established slope of the property. This sidewalk is topped with a brick finish so the initial concrete and grade are set lower than normal.

how to build a sidewalk

First we start with the excavation, since we will be laying brick on top of a concrete slab, the excavation needs to be a minimum of 5 inches deep and a width of four and a half feet. The actual walk finish is four feet, but we need room for the removal of the forms after the cement is poured.

Because the walk is free form shaped, we form the walk way with bender board. The two forms must match each other perfectly for a good finish product. This is done by installing one side first and then using pieces of pvc pipe that are 4' in length to get the correct width and match the other side even though it curves all over the place. We use a level to make sure the two sides of the walk are level.

Next we pour the cement and finish it with a concrete rake. That is what makes those lines in the top. This rough finish will give more surface area for the mortar to adhere the bricks.

After the concrete cures for a couple days and some cracks start to appear we will begin to place the bricks. Now the bricks in this sidewalk are really old, they were salvaged from a 100 year old building in Chicago. The bricks are irregular and no two are alike. This is what will give the walk character.

building a brick sidewalk

If you wonder how-to-build-a-sidewalk out of bricks, it goes something like this. When placing the bricks, we first start with a soldier course along both sides and then fill the center with rows of bricks that are staggered and alternate grout joints. We are using large grout joints to absorb the irregularity of the bricks.

The sidewalk curves one way and then back the other, so the brick joints are trying to line up and as we go along. This is fixed by simply picking a longer or shorter brick. If one of the correct length is not available, then we simply break a brick with a hammer. No worries about making a perfect cut with a saw, because everything is irregular.

brick sidewalk and patio

After setting the bricks like tiles, it is time to grout between them. Using a grout bag, we squeeze the mortar mix into all the cracks. Grouting this sidewalk was a 3 man job. One guy mixed mortar, one installed the mortar and the 3rd person finished it with a sponge and water. When the grout is complete, its time to patch the sod back into the edges of the walkway. An now you know how-to-build-a-sidewalk with a brick finish.


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