How to level the garden paths & planting beds?


So i have free bricks, pavers & wood chips to transform my unleveled garden and paths, but don't know how to straighten the paths and level it! Pictured after a huge rainstorm. I do have topsoil to add, but not sure how to level and make the brick lined paths straight.

q how to level the garden paths planting beds
q how to level the garden paths planting beds
q how to level the garden paths planting beds
  11 answers
  • Teri Teri on Jun 06, 2020

    Good night!

    looks like you need some fill dirt!

  • I agree, you need to get some fill. Standing water will attract mosquitoes. Once you have that taken care of, you can start laying out a plan for your gardens and paths.

  • Jan Clark Jan Clark on Jun 06, 2020

    Been there, done that, Deb, so read through these instructions a BUNCH of times until you understand the plan:

    First of all, you don't want your paths exactly level because water will not drain away from them. So, with that in mind, gather your supplies: some wooden stakes, a framing square, a roll of bright colored string (you'll find them with ropes in Home Depot or wherever), a really small level that will hang from the string and a hammer or mallet to pound in the stakes. Oh, and the shovel, and whatever other materials you're using for the path itself. And a soil compactor tool. They're located with other hand tools and look like a flat square of metal perpendicular to the bottom of a shovel handle.

    Usually you'll want your path to drain to one side (preferably the outer edge in your case). Hammer in your stakes along the entire outline of your paths - every corner - and then run the string line about a foot or so above the current ground level and check the angle with the framing square to make sure the paths cross at 90 degrees so that you've got straight lines. You'll just twist it around the stake to keep it taught - don't tie it at every corner.

    Now you can lay in your fill and pound it down with the compactor tool.

    Next, loosen the string and slide it down the stakes until it is just above the dirt and attach the hanging level so you can check the height of your fill. Slide the level back and forth along the string and add or remove dirt until you're happy with what you've got. On the short edges use the level to make sure you have a bit more fill on the inside so that you've got drainage toward the outer perimeter. You can also use a regular long level to check this every few feet or so down the path. You want a consistent, almost invisible slope, just a few degrees off level.

    Now, you have an outline, and a base to get started, continue with your bricking, pavers, etc.. Leave the string until you're just about done so you don't stray from the straight lines. Hope that helps!

  • Debby Weisman Debby Weisman on Jun 06, 2020

    You are so lucky that you don't have huge oak roots travel in all directions.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on Jun 06, 2020

    A curved path usually is more appealing than a straight one. Jan gave a very detailed description. I would consider using a compactor to give yourself a solid base. Then I would put a layer of sand on top to give yourself some wiggle room when leveling the bricks/pavers. Landscape fabric could be added between soil and sand. Another option to consider is using polymeric sand in the gaps. Once installed and wet down (following instructions) it will form a solid bond between everything to keep everything in place and prevent weed growth.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jun 06, 2020

    Hi Deb, the first thing you need to do is fill that big dip, then you can decide on a design for your pathway. One video shows how to estimate how much fill you need.

    You may want to add some shrubs or something in as well, this video shows how to level

    Here is a link showing different paths and how to,

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 07, 2020

    Hello there,

    Use 2 sticks and a length of string. Bang in one stick with string attached to the beginning of the path, and the other stick to the end of the path. Tie string to it!

    place a level on top of the string to see if it is level. When you have it level, build the soil up where necessary. Compact with a "Wacker" machine. To move lots of soil you will either need a lot of strength and energy or hire a small digger machine to assist you. Hope that gives you a heads up to the task........When it is done it will be so rewarding!

  • Cindy Cindy on Jun 07, 2020

    You can use your garden hose and a can of spray paint to help create your garden paths. Lay the hose into the shape you like. Then spray the paint right over the hose. Remove the hose and you're left with the shape of your path.

  • Rymea Rymea on Jun 08, 2020

    I love your design. Do the paths have to be perfect? From the pictures I think they look great.

    When you fill the low areas I'm wondering where the water will go. Make sure you channel it away from your new paths.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Jun 10, 2020

    All the higher ares need to be dug up and added to the low areas till it’s all leavel

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