Family Garden: Simple Steps to Success ,
Checkerboard Made with Pavers and Creeping Thyme

Step 1: Clear Area for Checkerboard Project

Clear your chosen checkerboard area of all grass and weeds and then rake it over, making the area as flat and even as possible. At the same time, remove any stones you come across.

Step 2: Compact Soil for Checkerboard Project

Use a wooden board—such as a scaffolding plank—to compact the soil, making it more even and easier to lay the pavers on to. Move it gradually across the area, walking across it each time it is laid.

Step 3: Measure Squares for Grid Pattern on Ground

Measure the pavers and then, on opposite sides of the area, mark out the measurements with sticks and stretch twine or string between them. Repeat on the other edges, making sure the lines are parallel and perpendicular.

Step 4: Add Sand to Squares for Pavers to Bed Into

The squares on which the pavers are going to be laid should be covered with sand to a depth of about 2 in (5 cm). This will give the pavers something to bed into, and will make laying and levelling much easier.

Step 5: Firm Sand in Squares for Pavers

After you have put all of the sand in place it will need to be leveled out and consolidated. This is most easily done by “firming” it down lightly, all over the square, with the back of a rake.

Step 6: Use Mortar to Hold Paver in Place on Ground

Mix up a wet mortar of four parts sand (half and half sharp sand and building sand) to one part cement or use a ready mix. Place a trowel-full in each corner and one in the center. This will firmly hold the paver in place.

Step 7: Check Level of Each Paver

Put the paver carefully in its place and use the wooden end of a mallet gently to knock the corners until it is level. It is essential to use a small spirit level here, checking the level in all directions.

Step 8: Fill Empty Squares with Topsoil to Level

To bring the planted squares up to the level of the paved squares, fill in with topsoil. This will help with maintenance in the long run, particularly if you are sowing grass and will need to run a mower over the pavers.

Step 9: Plant Squares with Creeping Thyme or Grass

Plant up your squares. We have used a creeping thyme, but other good choices would be Soleirolia soleirolii, chamomile “Treneague”, or grass. Grass could be sown from seed in the fall or spring or cut pieces of turf to fit.

Step 10: Water New Plants Thoroughly Through First Season

Water your plants in and then keep them well watered for the first season, until they are well established. Weed regularly until the plants knit together. New grass seed will need several months before it can be walked on.

Step 11: Let The Kids Play!

Children are bound to create their own stories of stepping stones over swamps and fast-flowing rivers but they can also use colored (and temporary) chalk to make a game of hopscotch—and enjoy the scent when they miss a step.

1 Comments About this How To

  • California Fence Company
    Such a lovely creativity that can add a classy and stylish touch to your backyard. I liked your tips and ideas that are very helpful for everyone who loves natural world. By using your ideas one can make their play garden more elegant. Everything was great in this description. Such a great job.

    Posted 11 months ago

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