Pavers beautifully complement boulders and other landscape materials.
Landscape lighting adds a finishing touch to this Cobblestone panorama.

Tools Required

The hand tools you’ll need to install Willow Creek Paving Stones are available at your local hardware store. Power tools can be rented at most equipment rental stores. Your Willow Creek dealer will be able to help you with all of your paving stone components. Click here for the full printable PDF Installation and Estimating Guidelines document.

To calculate materials needed for your project, use the WillowCreek Paving Stones Project Calculator, downloadable from this site.


  • Tape measure
  • Spray paint to mark project area
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Hand tamper
  • Wooden stakes and transit or string level to mark grade
  • Mallet
  • Knife or heavy scissors
    (for cutting underlayment fabric)
  • Hard-tooth rake
  • Hand saw (to cut edge restraint)
  • 4-foot hand level
  • Screed guides
    (1-inch O.D. iron pipe)
  • Screed board (2" x 4" long enough
    to span screed guides)
  • Masonry trowel
  • Mason’s string line
  • Wide-blade mason’s chisel
  • Stiff-bristle push broom


  • Vibrating plate compactor
  • Masonry saw with diamond-tip blade


  • Willow Creek Paving Stones
  • Aggregate base material
    3/4-inch crushed stone (including finer particles) typically used for road base.
  • Bedding sand
    Coarse, washed sand suitable for masonry.
  • Edge restraints with 3/8” x 10” landscape spikes
  • Joint sand
    Dry, washed sand, free of large aggregate that would prevent it from freely flowing into joints. Polymeric joint sand may be used to prevent loss due to water or erosion.
  • Willow Creek Paving Stones Underlayment Fabric (if necessary)
  • Paving-stone sealant (optional)

ExcavatingStep 1 - Excavating

Before excavating, contact your local utilities to identify any underground cables and pipes in and near the project area. Use spray paint to mark the perimeter of your project area. Excavate beyond the area to be paved by a distance equal to the depth of base required. Excavate to a depth that allows 2-3/8 inches for paving stones, 1 inch for bedding sand and the required compacted aggregate base.

Final grade should slope away from building foundations by a minimum 1/8 inch per foot to ensure proper drainage. All paved surfaces should include some slope for drainage. With the aid of a transit or level, it is often helpful to pound temporary guide stakes to the correct grade at several locations in the project area.   

Use a hand tamper or vibrating plate compactor to pack down any loose soil remaining in the excavated area.

Willow Creek Paving Stones Underlayment Fabric is recommended under the aggregate base where certain soil conditions exist—for example, in poorly drained, fine-grain soil such as clay or silt. By keeping the soil sub-base and aggregate base separate, this geotextile prevents the soft underlying soil from mixing with the crushed stone and diluting its strength. Place Willow Creek Paving Stones Underlayment Fabric on top of the entire excavated area, including up the sides.


Step 2 - Compacting Aggregate Base

compacting aggregate

spreading aggregate

Place and compact uniform layers of aggregate base material throughout the excavated area until the required depth and slope is achieved (Fig. 1, Fig. 2). Best results will be achieved by using a vibrating plate compactor.

Slightly moisten dry base material and compact in layers of no more than 4 inches at a time. Start at the perimeter and work your way toward the center, overlapping each previous pass. Make at least two complete passes to create a flat, smooth base. (Fig. 3)


screed rails

Step 3 - Setting Screed Guides

Paving stones are laid on a 1-inch layer of bedding sand. Screed guides (see tool list) are used to level the bedding sand. Set screed guides parallel to each other on the compacted aggregate base and check grade. The top of the screed guides will be the top of your sand bed and will determine the pitch and flatness of your paving-stone surface. (Fig. 4)


Step 4 - Installing Edge Restraints

To prevent lateral movement of the paving stones and to ensure proper interlocking, edge restraints should be installed on top of the crushed-stone base on all unrestrained edges of your project area. Install edging initially on only one or two sides of the project area.(Fig. 5)

This is where paver placement will begin. If possible, begin at a long, straight edge. After all paving stones have been laid, install the remainder of edging. Ribs of edge restraints may be easily cut to permit bending of the restraints for curved edges. Stake edge restraints at all ends, leaving no more than 18 inches between spikes.

Note: Circlestone comprises concentric rings of paving stones placed around one center paving stone. After all Circlestones are installed, place edge restraints around the perimeter of the project area.

screeding sand bedStep 5 - Screeding Sand Bed

Carefully spread bedding sand around and between the screed bars to form a setting bed for the paving stones. Screed the sand by drawing a 2" x 4" board or other straight-edge across the top of the screed guides. Then remove the guides and use a trowel to fill in the voids with sand.


laying pavers

Step 6 - Laying Paving Stones

In general, lay the first paving stones against the longest section of edge restraint. If possible, start at the low end of the grade and work uphill to keep paving stones from shifting during construction. Select paving stones at random from different product pallets to get good color distribution. Work alternating from right to left, then left to right, completing one row at a time. String lines will help keep rows straight. Set the paving stones carefully into the sand; do not press or hammer them.

Place paving stones directly next to each other. The ribbed edges on the paving stones will ensure proper spacing. Continue adding paving stones until you’ve completed your pattern.

Note: When installing Circlestone, mark the center of the project area and begin laying paving stones in concentric circles from the center outward. See diagram in the Estimating Guide for proper placement of Circlestone components.

cutting paversStep 7 - Cutting Paving Stones

Paving stones may need to be cut to fit curves, corners and angles, or to go around objects. Mark the paving stones and cut them with a diamond-tip-blade masonry saw for the cleanest results.

A guillotine paving-stone splitter or mallet and chisel also may be used. Cut paving stones to fill any remaining gaps to maintain patterns. Gaps less than 3/8 inch can be filled with sand.

compacting paversStep 8 - Compacting the Paving Stones

Finish installation of edge restraints. Sweep the paving-stone surface to remove debris. Make two passes over the surface with the vibrating plate compactor to embed paving stones into the bedding sand. Make any final adjustments in alignment or leveling at this time.

sweeping joint sandStep 9 - Joint Sand

Sweep dry joint sand over the paving stones and work it into the joints with a push broom. When desired, use polymeric sand to prevent loss due to water or erosion. Make at least two more passes over the finished installation with a plate compactor, the second pass at an angle to the first, to level surface, firmly seat paving stones into bedding sand and force sand into the joints to ensure they interlock properly. Finally, sweep off excess sand.

Step 10 - Sealant (Optional)

A sealant may be applied to the finished surface to protect paving stones against stains, enhance color and stabilize joint sand. Sealants are available from your Willow Creek supplier.