12 Great Tips for Landscaping Your Backyard
Adding walls and paths made of stone or brick to your landscape transforms it into something truly special. Here’s a collection of pro building tricks for easier, faster and better path and wall construction for creating your dream landscape.
Snap Lines on the Sand
You can stretch a string between stakes to create a layout line for setting bricks, but simply snapping a chalk line in the sand is quicker, plus you don’t have a string in the way. With layout lines snapped on the sand, laying bricks is faster and easier. The chalk won’t stick to dry sand, so you may have to mist the sand with water before snapping lines. Then snap layout lines directly on the sand using a standard carpenter’s chalk line reel.
Save Your Back with Dollies
Heavy-duty two-wheel dollies ($40 and up) work great for moving flat stones and piles of brick. Special dollies called ball carts have a curved back to fit the root ball of a tree. These are available at some rental centers (about $24 per day) and are perfect for moving boulders. Get more tips for moving heavy stones here.
Roll Heavy Stones Over PVC Pipe
Cover Your Grass With Plywood
Bricks and stone really tear up grass. If you’re not careful, you’ll have to lay new sod. Plywood keeps shards and soil from mingling with grass and makes it easy to clean up with a shovel. You can also prevent wheelbarrow ruts by covering the route with strips of plywood. Don’t have a wheelbarrow? You can make your own DIY garden cart.
Keep Sand in the Cracks
Apply a Stabilizing Sealant
Spray Water to Keep the Dust Down
Spray water on the diamond blade when you’re cutting concrete, bricks or blocks. The small, controllable stream from a garden sprayer works best. The water also cools the blade and speeds the cutting process. Make sure the saw is double insulated or has a grounded plug and is plugged into a working GFCI outlet or GFCI-protected cord. Learn more about cutting concrete here.
Save Your Fingertips with Athletic Tape
Use Polyurethane Adhesive
Pack Gravel in Layers
Build in Drainage for Long-Lasting Walls
Water-soaked soil is the worst enemy of retaining walls because it exerts enormous pressure behind the wall. Adding good drainage behind block or stone walls is crucial for long-lasting, bulge-free walls. Start by laying perforated plastic drainage tubing along the base of the wall slightly above ground level so it can drain to daylight. Slope the tubing about 1/4 in. per foot. Learn more about building long-lasting retaining walls here.