Step 1

Clear Area for Checkerboard Project

Clear Area for Checkerboard Project

Clear the area for checkerboard project of all grass and weeds. Rake it level, making sure the area is flat and free of stones and clumps of soil.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Clear Area

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

Compact Soil for Checkerboard Project

Use a wooden board to help compact the soil in area for checkerboard project. Move board gradually across the area walking across it each time it is moved.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Compact Soil

Use a wood 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 Squares for Grid Pattern on Ground

Measure pavers and mark out those measurements on the ground. Stretch twine between sticks using those measurements. Make sure lines are parallel and perpendicular.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Measure Squares for Grid Pattern

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

Add Sand to Squares for Pavers to Bed Into

Add sand to the squares that will hold the pavers. This will give the pavers something to bed into, and will make laying and leveling much easier.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Add Sand to Squares for Pavers

The squares on which the pavers are going to be laid should be covered with sand to a depth of about two inches. 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

Firm Sand in Squares for Pavers

Firm down sand over squares using the back of a rake head. Tap it down to make surface level before placing paver in place.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Firm Sand in Squares

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, using the back of a rake. 

Step 6

Use Mortar to Hold Paver in Place on Ground

Use Mortar to Hold Paver in Place on Ground

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

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use Mortar to Hold Paver in Place

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

Check Level of Each Paver

Use the wooden end of a mallet to tap the paver into position and level. Use a level to check that the paver is level in all directions.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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

Fill Empty Squares with Topsoil to Level

Fill in the opposite squares to the pavers with topsoil to bring the soil up to the level of paver. It will help with maintenance once the grass is established.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fill Empty Squares with Topsoil

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 Squares with Creeping Thyme or Grass

Plant each square, shown here, with creeping thyme. Grasses could also be used by sowing with seed in fall or spring.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant Squares with Creeping Thyme or Grass

Plant your squares. We used 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 New Plants Thoroughly Through First Season

Water all plants once planted, and continue to water well for the first season, until well established. Weed thoroughly, and keep off grass for several months

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Water New Plants Thoroughly

Keep your new plants 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

Children Will Enjoy Playing Hopscotch on Pavers

Children Will Enjoy Playing Hopscotch on Pavers

Children will enjoy playing hopscotch on the pavers in this checkerboard patio. Let kids use colored chalk to number the pavers, since it will wash off after a rain.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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.