Installing a walkway in your lawn

What you’ll need

  • garden hose
  • rake
  • shovel
  • seed spreader
  • straw (or other mulch cover)

If you have an area of your lawn that gets a considerable amount of foot traffic, you may want to consider installing a walkway. There are many styles of walkways, but for this project, we will take you through the steps of installing a walkway with pavers and grass. (We like grass – consider us biased.)

Choose your materials

Walkways can be made from any outdoor flooring material. Concrete, rock, brick, stone and wood are all examples of materials that can be used. When choosing your walkway materials, think about how it will complement the surrounding landscape and the style of you home. If you have stone edging, consider using similar stone for the walkway, for example. The size of your walkway will also determine how much material you will purchase, so plan ahead before heading to the store.

For this project, we will concentrate on stone pavers with grass, or ground cover as an alternate.

Prepare the area

Using string or garden hose, mark the area where you will install the walkway. Make sure the walkway is wide enough – 36 inches is ideal – and far enough away from a fence or the side of the house. Vary the walkway’s width and direction to create interest — a straight path can be rather dull. Once you are comfortable with the layout, mark the edge lines with landscaper’s paint.

Clear all debris from the area, such as rocks and gravel. If you wish to keep the grass, then rent a sod cutter to remove the grass and save it for later. Otherwise, use a non-selective herbicide to eliminate the grass. (Be careful not to spray it on the grass you don’t want to remove.) Rake off the dead grass and work the soil so it is level and remove and any large rocks. (see Step 5 if your path is on a hill and you want to install steps).

If your path is short (10 feet or so), you may want to skip this step and simply install the pavers in the grass by cutting away the sod and following the steps below.

Install walkway

You may need to remove some of the soil so the pathway will be level with the surrounding turf after it is installed. Lay a paver stone on your cleared area and see how high it rises above the surrounding turf or landscape. Remove soil if necessary to make it level. Once you have the soil prepped and leveled, cover it with a layer of paver sand, which you can purchase at your local hardware store. Lay the pavers where you wish to install them and work them in so they are firmly in place. Lightly water the area, and work the pavers by “twisting” them an inch or so back and forth. Tamp them down with your foot to be sure they are firm. (You can also rent a plate compacter to use for tamping the pavers).

Finish the walkway

Fill the area around the pavers with soil and follow the directions for planting grass seed. For best results, we recommend using Scotts® Enriched Lawn Soil and Scotts Pure Premium Grass Seed. As an alternative, you can fill in the path around the pavers with landscape rocks, pebbles or mulch. If you do, you might want to consider installing a layer of soil fabric first to help prevent weeds.

You can also fill in the remaining area with the sod that was removed.

For the garden enthusiasts, ground-hugging perennials, such as creeping thyme and stone crop, can be planted instead of grass to add interest to the walkway. Consult with your local garden center for advice on what to plant.

Installing steps

(skip this step if your walkway is on a level area)

Steps can be made using 2″ x 10″ risers made of redwood, and then backed with 2″ x 4″ stakes, cut to 16″ to 18″ in length. Cut the 2 x 10 the width of the path, place the 2 x 4 stakes behind it and secure them into the ground about 6 to 8 inches. Attach the riser to the stakes with wood screws. Use bricks, wood or landscape edging for the sides and then backfill with soil. Tamp it down firm then top with your landscape gravel. How deep you make the steps depends on your preference and the grade of your path. Continue until all the steps are built.

Add landscaping

Create interest in your walkway with trees, shrubs, herbs and flowers. For example, plant English Ivy between the walkway and a fence. Or plant herbs to give off a pleasant aroma. A formal hedge, such as boxwoods or Japanese holly, along the side of the path or at the entrance will surely add interest and perspective. You might want to consider installing landscape lighting to illuminate the path. We suggest that you look at other homes around you for inspiration, or consult with your local garden center or hardware store for ideas and building materials.