How to Make Play Sand Hard for a Path

Written by emily patterson
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How to Make Play Sand Hard for a Path
Compacted sand. (texture of the sand image by miloka from

A hard sand path is an inexpensive way to provide a stable walking surface through a garden, to areas of the yard or just to clean up a well-traveled area where grass has been reduced to mud. Play sand can be used as a path by itself or as a firm foundation for pavers or stepping stones.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • 4-foot level
  • Garden rake
  • Plate compactor
  • Garden hose with nozzle

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  1. 1

    Dig the area for the path approximately 4 inches deep with a shovel. Rake the area smooth with a garden rake.

  2. 2

    Lay a 4-foot level along the path and use the rake or a hand shovel to level the path area. Continue along the path checking that the path is level in both directions.

  3. 3

    Pour 4 inches of play sand in the path area and level with the back of the garden rake. Check the path for level after smoothing the sand with the rake.

  4. 4

    Dampen the sand with water from a hose. A mist setting on a nozzle will provide even coverage without disturbing the sand.

  5. 5

    Start from one end of the path and compact the play sand with a plate compactor. Rent a plate compactor from a local building supply rental store for a reasonable price by the day. Follow the operating instructions that will be provided by the rental company. Repeat passes over the entire path three or four times to ensure the sand is thoroughly compacted.

Tips and warnings

  • Install solid boundaries such as pressure treated wood or pavers to prevent the sand from washing out of the path during heavy rains.
  • Compact annually or as needed to maintain a firm foundation.
  • Wear sturdy shoes when operating a plate compactor to provide stability while operating the equipment.

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