Use concrete blocks for a garden path or a simple wall.

Backyard Projects: How to Lay Concrete Blocks

by Nicole Vulcan

A lot of backyard projects don't require the help of an expensive contractor. Whether you want to lay down concrete blocks to create a short wall to keep your kids and pets in or to pave part of your yard for a walkway, you can lay concrete blocks on your own and you may be able to accomplish either project within an afternoon.

Concrete Wall

Dig a trench that is two times as wide as the width of your blocks and about 6 inches deep, around the entire area where you'll lay the block wall.

Lay two-by-four boards, on their sides, along both sides of the trench and drive wooden stakes into the ground to hold them in place. Pour quick-setting concrete into the trench, up to ground level and smooth out the top by pulling a two-by-four board across the surface. Use a trowel to remove any concrete that accumulates on the top or sides of the board. Allow the concrete at least 24 to 48 hours to fully dry, then remove the wood mold.

Snap a chalk line along the middle of your footing and place a line of mortar along the line, about three-quarters of an inch high and 1 inch wide. Also place a line of mortar as far away from the first line as the thickness of your blocks. Lay your first brick on the mortar lines, placing the long ends of your block directly onto the mortar.

Dab mortar onto the short ends of another block and lay it next to the first block, pressing the two blocks together lightly. Use your trowel to remove excess mortar that squeezes out from between the two blocks. Continue laying your line of blocks in the same manner.

Cut a block in half by drawing a line along your cut point with a pencil, then place a masonry chisel along the line and smack it with a hammer, causing the brick to break in half.

Spread mortar along the top of the first layer of blocks. Lay the half block at the end of the first layer of blocks and continue to lay blocks, staggering them so that the middle of one block is at the junction of the two blocks just above it.

Run a wet jointer tool along the junction of each block, removing excess mortar. Finish the top of your wall by putting concrete mix into each hole and smoothing it over with your trowel.

Concrete Pavers

Measure the height, width and length of your concrete paver blocks. Remove the soil and sod from the desired area for each block, removing about 2 inches of soil and sod from every side of the block.

Tamp down the areas for individual blocks with a tamping tool. Lay about 3 inches of base course material, such as decomposed granite, into the area and tamp it down.

Spread 1 inch of sand over the base course material and smooth it out with a two-by-four board.

Place individual blocks into the spaces you've created for a path with space between. Tamp down.

Items you will need

  • Hoe or shovel
  • 2x4 boards
  • Stakes
  • Quick-set concrete
  • Masonry trowel
  • Chalk line
  • Mortar
  • Masonry chisel
  • Hammer
  • Jointer tool
  • Measuring tape
  • Tamping tool
  • Base course material
  • Sand
  • Concrete pavers

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images