I've got a yard that is all sand. Like legit sand. No we're not on the beach, we're several blocks from Lake Michigan but the yard is all sand.

My question is: if we were to lay pavers stones down, so we need to add loose rock and then sand on top of that, or can we just lay block right on top of pounded down sand?

Not looking for anything fancy. Just going to throw some natural stone down and bump them as close together as we can.

Additionally would we need any sort of compound to keep them in place?

4 Answers 4


You need to add loose rock ('fines') and then tamp it down, preferably with a machine, then sand, having started with a gravel base for drainage. See the picture here.

I live in Chicago, but I've also done this in Michigan where the 'soil' is legit sand, not clay like ours where drainage would be an issue. You won't have drainage issues next to the lake, but what you will have is an unstable base. If you're going to go through all that work you should use something to lock the pavers in. Left over sand is the other option.

  • 1
    Agree, I laid pavers directly on sandy soil with bad results. Large (16 in dia) flower pots depressed the area near the pavers about an inch after a few years.
    – Mattman944
    Feb 21, 2020 at 4:30
  • @mazura the place is in Michigan City, IN, so you are spot on with the "soil". Its probably 2ft of sand in the front yard. Can't thank you enough for the advice you saved me hours and dollars of pain.
    – Tom
    Feb 22, 2020 at 4:55

I just watched a guy on YouTube. He is a contractor who does this in florida where there is a lot of sand. He recommends digging your area out, lining it with a woven fabric soil separator (think tarp) and then continue from there like you normally would as if it were regular soil… put your gravel base down, then sand, then pavers etc. tamping well between each layer of course. Unless you do this, it’s just going to continue to shift.

My yard is also pure sand. I’m across the street from the Fox River in Wisconsin.

  • 2
    I think the common definition of "tarp" is something that is (mostly) impervious to water. If you line it with a tarp, you'll end up with a swimming pool. You needs something like landscape fabric or geotextile that will allow the water to percolate through, but keep the gravel and fines from spreading into the sand below.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 17, 2022 at 12:39

If the sand base is stable that should be fine with some conditions. The sand provides a couple of things (1) ease of leveling and (2) good drainage. The drainage becomes especially important in cold climates where you could have frost heave in the winter. If surface water is an issue make sure you have very good drainage. The deeper the sand base the better. You don't mention the purpose of the pavers. If it's a simple patio or walkway where you only want a reasonably flat area, you'll just need to level the sand in the entire area where you'll be laying pavers. A lot depends on how large an area you're paving and the type of pavers. Generally the soil is going to shift to some degree over time. Unless it's severe it shouldn't cause you any major problems. You don't need to mortar the joints. I've used breeze (finely crushed rock) and other fillers between the pavers. I've also planted moss in the cracks and it looks great. If you do the breeze I like to put a layer of weed barrier (plastic) under the pavers to discourage weeds. However, with this type of patio it's not going to stay perfectly flat - with rock pavers I think that is part of the beauty.


I lived in the same area; raked the sand level , laid pavers, sprinkled sand on top and "swept" it in. Nothing had changed/moved in 8 years when I moved. I did the same thing in TX sandy former coast , pavers stable for 25 years. Pretty much a "no-brainer".

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