How to Level Bricks on Uneven Ground With Gravel But Without Mortar

Written by larry simmons
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How to Level Bricks on Uneven Ground With Gravel But Without Mortar
Repair uneven bricks in patios or walkways to recreate the original level look of the surface. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A brick walkway or patio can be a beautiful solid surface, providing a bit of stability in the midst of nature. Over time, it can also become a visually unappealing mess of heaved stones, uneven and dangerous to step on. However, such an unappealing surface does not need to remain so, especially if the surface uses a traditional gravel and sand bed for the bricks. With a bit of labour and some excess gravel and sand, you can set the surface to rights, relaying the bricks so that they sit levelly, even on uneven ground and recreating the walkway or patio as it first appeared all without mortar to hold the bricks in place.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Broom
  • Slotted screwdriver
  • Rake
  • Spade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Wire mesh
  • Gravel
  • Carpenter's level
  • Plate compactor
  • Polymetric sand
  • Garden hose

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  1. 1

    Sweep any debris and dirt from the brick surfaces with a broom.

  2. 2

    Take careful note of the pattern used to lay the bricks in place. Copy the pattern down onto a piece of paper to help you in replacing the bricks after repairing the gravel and sand bed beneath the bricks.

  3. 3

    Dig the sand from the joints surrounding one of the bricks on the edge of the paving with a screwdriver's tip. Dig to the bottom of the brick and then use the screwdriver to help you pry the brick from its place. Use the space opened up by the brick's removal to remove the rest of the bricks from the surface. This will reveal an uneven bed of sand beneath the bricks.

  4. 4

    Lay a piece of wire mesh with holes large enough to allow sand through but not large enough to allow gravel through over the wheelbarrow. Rake the sand bed covering the gravel layer into a pile and then use the spade to collect the sand in the wheelbarrow, using the mesh to sift out the gravel.

  5. 5

    Return the sifted gravel to the paving area. Rake the gravel surface level, using the gravel to make up for the unevenness of the surface beneath. Add more gravel to the paving area if you need more to create a level surface over the uneven ground. Use a carpenter's level to check for level over the paving area, and make adjustments with the rake and gravel where needed.

  6. 6

    Compress the gravel in place using a vibratory plate compactor. Go over the gravel in rows with the compactor, and then check the surface again for level. Add gravel where needed, and compress again. Repeat the process until you have a level bed of gravel rising to the same height as the old bed of gravel.

  7. 7

    Cover the gravel with the sifted sand. Spread the sand evenly and level it out with the rake. Use a wooden screed to smooth and level the sand bed further, adding new polymetric sand where required to fill any voids or to bring the sand up to the level needed. The sand should rise enough so that the bricks will be even with the surrounding lawn surface once laid into place. Compress the sand as you did the gravel with the plate compactor, maintaining the level for the bed with the carpenter's level.

  8. 8

    Place the bricks back onto the level bed. Reproduce the original pattern, using your notes for guidance. Use the carpenter's level to maintain the level of the brick surface. Push the bricks firmly into the sand bed to mount them, adding more sand to raise a corner if too low, or taking away sand to lower a high corner.

  9. 9

    Cover the bricks with sand after laying them all and then use the broom to sweep the sand between the bricks to fill the joints. Wash down the brick surface using the garden hose to drive the sand to the bottom of the joints. Place more sand on the bricks and push into the space in the joints opened up by the hose. Repeat the hosing down and filling process until the sand in the joints no longer falls in level with the added water. The water will react with the chemicals in the sand to harden it slightly, holding the now-level bricks in place.

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