How to Lay Pavers on Dirt – A Quick Guide

A permanent paver installation requires a lot of work and resources. But if you’re only going to need your patio for one or two seasons, you can make a simple version of that installation. We’re going to teach you how to lay pavers on dirt and make one of those simple installations.

It is important to know that, while a simple quick installation can be done easily in some specific situations, it is still highly recommended that you do a complete paver installation as soon as possible.

Even in a quick installation, you still want to make things right so you don’t end up spending more money and time than necessary. So let’s go for the steps on how to simply install pavers on dirt.

Pavers on top of sand in a quick installation.

How to Lay Pavers on Dirt – Materials

First, let’s talk about the materials and tools you’re going to need.


  • Work Gloves and Safety Glasses: Always wear them when working on the heavy stuff. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Measuring Tape
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Hand Compactor
  • Level
  • Edge Restrains
  • Rubber Mallet


  • Pavers: Since you’re not doing an exactly proper installation, your pavers may not be as well preserved as they would otherwise. So keep that in mind if you plan to re-use the pavers for a future more complete installation.
  • Stakes
  • Twine
  • 2×4 piece of wood
  • Sand

The materials you’re going to need are not very different than what you would need for a full installation, actually. The difference is that you’re no spending on the excavation and bedding of the soil beneath the pavers.

Step 01 – Remove Debris

The first thing you want to do is remove any debris on your working site. This debris consists of rocks, grass, or any other thing that is not actually dirt. In the end, you want to be able to see the ground in a more or less leveled and uniform way.

Step 02 – Mark the Space

With the ground cleaned up, now is time to delimitate your area of work. To do that, you’re going to hammer four stakes on the ground, one in each corner of your imaginary patio, that you’re going to measure using the measuring tape.

After that, tie the twine in one of the stakes, as close to the ground as possible, walk to the next stake, wrap the twine around it and continue to do so until you have a “twine square” around the entire area.

Now you have an even clearer perception of the entire project and are ready to move to the next step.

Step 03 – Leveling the Ground

A few considerations about leveling the ground. Ideally, you want your pavers to be leveled not only amongst themselves but also in relation to the level of the entire area.

Not going to lie, doing that without excavating the ground, at least a little bit, is difficult. Especially when you need to add sand on top of the dirt before laying the pavers.

So, from here on you have two options. You either want your pavers to be leveled to the ground around it, or you don’t.

If you want them to be leveled, you will need to do some basic excavation to account for the thickness of the pavers plus the 1-inch layer of sand you need to add.

If you don’t care about the leveling, you can simply add the sand on the ground and be done with it.

In either case, you’re still going to need to level the sand. You can do this by using the level and the 2×4 piece of wood.

Disclaimer. We highly recommend you account for the drainage when leveling the soil. You do that by simply adding a slope of 1/4-inch per foot when excavating the ground.

Step 04 – Lay the Pavers

Once you’re done pouring and leveling the sand around the area, it is time to lay down the pavers. Always start by laying pavers close to a “hard edge”, like a wall, and start from there.

You can use the edge restrains before or after installing the pavers, is up to you. But if you don’t have a hard edge to start with, you can put an edge restrain into place and start from there.

Make sure to level your pavers along the way using the level and the 2×4.

Step 05 – Filling Sand

Once you’re done placing the pavers, you need to add sand on top of the finished patio and sweep it to fill the grout lines. That will keep the pavers secured in place and prevent any wobbliness.

After sweeping the sand, you’re done with your project and got yourself a good temporary paver installation.

Broom sweeping sand between pavers.

How to Lay Pavers on Dirt – Professional Help

While good enough for two or three months, this temporary installation is not meant to endure. A proper paver installation can last for years and years, especially if the installation in question is done by a professional.

If you value quality over easiness, never skip on calling professionals to help you with your landscape projects. The investment is well worth it.

If you happen to be around Sarasota, FL, your best bet is JS Brick. The company has more than 20 years of experience with the installation and maintenance of pavers and bricks.

Give them a call right now at +1 941 586 9140 for a free estimate on your project.

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