How to Lay a Path

By Kim
Last updated 30th October 2020 - Reading time: 7 mins

Are you looking for a guide on how to lay a path? This article aims to explain how to lay a garden path. We will highlight all of the tools, materials and safety equipment needed to complete this type of job, and we will provide a step-by-step guide on laying a path.

How to lay a path

What Tools Do I Need to Lay a Path?

There are several tools that you will need to lay a path. Below is a list of the tools that you should have before attempting this job:

  • Pegs & multi-purpose string length
  • Garden spade
  • Heavy-duty tape measure
  • Cordless combi drill or electric screwdriver
  • Spirit level
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Rake
  • Tamper or wacker plate
  • Rubber mallet
  • Bucket (if mixing mortar)
  • Watering can with a fine rose or spray gun
  • Soft brush (for block paving)
  • Trowel

What Safety Equipment Do I Need to Lay a Path?

There are a number of recommended safety precautions that you should take when laying a garden path. Below is a list of the safety equipment that you should use for this type of job:

  • Safety boots
  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Rigger gloves
  • Ear defenders (if using wacker plate)

What Materials Do I Need to Lay a Path?

There are several materials that you will need to use in this type of job. Below is a list of the materials that you will need to lay your path:

  • Treated timber (for edging boards)
  • Treated wooden pegs
  • External grade screws
  • Weed control landscape fabric
  • MOT type 1 or hardcore
  • Slablayer
  • Decorative gravel (for gravel path)
  • Sand and cement (dry mortar mix for jointing if not using a slab layer)
  • Paving slabs (for concrete slab path)
  • Sharp sand (for block paving)
  • Kiln-dried block paving sand
  • Block paving

How to Prepare for Laying a Path

There are many things that you will need to do to prepare for laying a path. Please see the below tips for things you should do before starting the job:

  • Put on all of the relevant safety equipment before starting the job.
  • Check the weather (you don’t want to end up building your new path in the rain).
  • Check the area where you intend to lay the path with a cable avoidance tool (you can hire this device from a local tool hire centre).
  • Accurately lay out the intended positioning of the path with pegs and string (this is to ensure you know exactly where your path will lead and acts as a guide for digging).

How to Lay a Path Yourself - Step by Step Guide

If you are planning on laying a garden path yourself, follow the below guide. This will guide you through how to construct a gravel, block-paving, or slab path.

Step 1

Once you have checked the area for any underlying cables or pipes, create a layout for your path using pegs and strings, so you know exactly where it is going.

lay a path 1

Step 2

As a guide, mark the edges of your layout with a spade and then dig out a channel in line with the layout. The depth you need to dig to will depend on the materials that you are choosing to use for your path.

lay a path 2

A gravel path will need a depth of 100ml whereas paving slabs or block paving need a depth of 150mm plus the depth of the slab or paving blocks themselves.

Step 3

Lay timber in position along the edges of the path and then drive in pegs at intervals of no more than 1200mm apart. You should then fix the edging to these pegs using exterior grade screws to secure everything in place. Check the level as you go to ensure it is straight.

lay a path 3

Step 4

For a gravel path, you will first need to lay some landscape fabric along the path. Ensure that it is all completely covered and be sure to overlap if you need to use more than one sheet of fabric.

lay a path 4

You will then need to add a 50mm layer of sub-base or hardcore and rake it until it is completely level. Compact the sub-base or hardcore with a tamper or wacker plate. Now, simply pour the gravel over the top to a depth of 25mm, leaving a gap of 25mm to the top of the edging.

Step 5

For paving slabs, begin by laying 50mm of sub-base and compact it as explained in the previous step. Then, repeat this process with another 50mm of sub base so that you have an overall layer of 100m of sub-base, and compact it again.

lay a path 5

Then, you will need to add a slab layer to a depth of 25mm and level this with a rake. Add water to this using a watering can that is fitted with a fine rose and rake it again.

Step 6

It is now time to lay your paving slabs. Begin by dampening the underside of the slab and then place it into position on the path and embed it in using a rubber mallet. Repeat this process for all of the slabs.

lay a path 6

Check that the slabs are level using a spirit level as you go along. Use spacers to maintain a consistent gap between the slabs. Allow the slab layer to completely dry before continuing.

Step 7

Once the path is completely dry, fill in the gaps with a mixture of water and slab layer. Apply this mixture to the openings using a trowel. Be sure to clean any excess away from the face of the slab before continuing onto the next one.

lay a path 7

Step 8

For block paving, start the same as you would with slabs with two 50mm layers of sub-base compacted. Then add a layer of slightly dampened sharp sand and compact this to a depth of 50mm with a suitable piece of timber.

lay a path 8

Then, you can lay your block paving on top of this base, lightly embedding them with a rubber mallet as you go along. Also, be sure to check the levels as you go along too.

Step 9

Once the path is in place, brush kiln dried sand into the joints before compacting with the wacker plate for the final time. Apply more sand if necessary to fill in any gaps that you can see in the joints.

lay a path 9

Step 10

As you can see, it is quite similar to build all three types of path. Once you have completed the above steps, your path should be allowed some time to set before any heavy use. A good 24 hours should do the trick.

lay a path 10


How deep do I need to dig out the soil to lay a path?

This depends on the type of materials that you are using for your path. A gravel path will need a depth of 100ml whereas paving slabs or block paving need a depth of 150mm plus the depth of the slab or paving blocks themselves.

What are the most common types of garden path?

The most common types of garden path are gravel paths, paving slab paths, and block paving paths.

Do I need a wacker plate to lay a path?

You will need a wacker plate to lay down a concrete slab or paving stone type of path as these will need to be compressed.

Do I need to lay landscape fabric under my path?

You will only need to lay landscape fabric under a gravel path

How do I create the layout for my path?

You can create the layout of your pathway using pegs and strings before you begin to dig out the path.
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