Paving has become a widespread practice, which is understandable given the many benefits pavers provide. Paving not only adds appeal to an area, it also makes it more functional and usable – and thus adds value to your home. But all the advantages of pavers are for naught if you fail to install them correctly.
Backyard pavers are usually installed onto a surface of a compacted road base and bedding sand, or directly onto concrete. While this is the ideal way to lay pavers, and gives a strong foundation for the pavers to rest upon, are these your only options when laying pavers? Is it possible to shorten the process, save some money and lay your pavers directly onto a dirt surface?
The short answer is, no, it’s not usually the best idea to use a dirt surface to install pavers upon. Pavers laid directly onto dirt will move, stain and are prone to infestations from weeds. A good base layer is necessary for a successful paver install, and dirt is not considered to be the best base layer.
Having said this however, there are certain circumstances when laying pavers on dirt might be considered.
If you’re laying temporary pavers for a short period of time before doing a full installation, using dirt as a base is probably fine. Or if you only need the paved area for a short time, a dirt surface will likely suffice.
If you do decide to lay pavers on dirt …
When you lay pavers directly onto dirt, it’s best to ensure you poison your grass first. This will help prevent weeds or grass from returning to grow between your pavers. You’ll need to remove rocks, branches, leaves and other debris from the site you wish to pave.
You’ll also need to make sure the dirt surface doesn’t move or sink over time, to give your pavers the best longevity. Use a hand compactor or mechanical compactor on your soil to press it down and give an even surface to lay the pavers upon. Wet the soil first if it is very dry, and use a spirit level to ensure a perfectly even surface. You might even want to consider using a weed mat or layer of landscaping fabric over the dirt surface to make it more stable and prevent weeds from growing through. Another suggestion is to add a plank border or other edging material to the paved area to prevent the pavers from shifting on the dirt.
When shouldn’t you lay pavers on dirt?
If the condition of your soil is poor or the soil is composed of poorly-draining clay, you shouldn’t lay pavers directly onto such a surface. A clay surface is almost sure to shift over time, meaning your pavers will move out of position. Failing to take the soil type into account can be a big mistake.
Also consider how much traffic your pavers will be subject to. If the pavers will have to withstand a lot of weight and traffic, a dirt surface is unlikely to hold firm. Paving a driveway straight onto dirt may not work; however you might get away with it if you’re only paving a walkway that doesn’t receive much traffic.
For pavers that can adapt to any situation, look no further than Stoneworks. You can view Stoneworks’ quality selection of artisan-style, moulded concrete pavers here.