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Brick is a classic building material. For the landscape, it’s an easy-to-maintain and extremely durable paving material that can be set in many patterns. The advantage of brick over other modular pavers is that it doesn’t lose its color over time and doesn’t require as much cleaning or maintenance as concrete pavers.
Photo by Christian Rice Architects Inc
The basics: Brick is considered a natural building material because it is made from clay and shale. Its durability and strength come from the firing process, where the clay is heated in a kiln and the materials bind together. Because of the kiln process, bricks are super durable and do not require a sealer. They can last as a paving material for many decades with minimal maintenance.
Cost: $10 to $20 per square foot, installed. A mortar setting bed is more expensive than sand-swept because it requires more material and more labor to install. Brick paving, with a lifespan of more than 40 years, is a great investment for your landscape.
Photo on right by Gregory Lombardi Design
Shown: Herringbone-pattern brick walkway set with a soldier course edge. The soldier course adds stability to the brick paving.
Photo by Morehead Pools
Size and color: Bricks fire to a reddish color that can vary based on exactly how the bricks are produced. Sizes are mostly within the 4-by-8-inch range, with thicknesses of 2½ to 4 inches. Driveways and applications with heavy loads require brick at least 3 inches thick.
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Photo by New Eco Landscapes
Special considerations: Adequate prep work is necessary when using brick as paving. The ground must be graded so that water drains from the surface, and the subgrade must have a drainage layer of compacted aggregate to properly support an even brick surface.
Maintenance: Remove stubborn stains with a little soapy water and a wire brush. There’s disagreement about whether clay bricks need to be sealed every few years. Bricks have been around for ages without the use of sealants, so I recommend skipping it. Check with your brick supplier before applying any product, because generic paver sealant is not good for clay bricks.
Sustainability: Bricks can be reused with ease. They can literally be taken up, stockpiled and then reset in a new configuration. Reuse your bricks for other landscape projects or sell them to a salvage shop.
Shown: Bricks set in a circular pattern, commonly used with other brick patterns to add interest.
Photo on right by Denise McGaha Interiors
Setting bricks: After the subgrade and drainage layers are built, bricks can either be installed on a sand setting bed with sand-swept joints or mortared in place on a concrete foundation.
Brick, like all durable modular paving, can be reset if the pavers become unevenly settled. The best way to ensure your brick stays level for many years is to create a great foundation and to set the paving with one of the above tried-and-true methods.
Photo by Dennis Mayer Photographer
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Popular brick patterns. Bricks are wonderful modular units that make strong, stable paving when set together in tight patterns. Here are the three most common brick patterns:
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