Can You Lay Pavers Over Dirt?


Laying pavers is a simple way to enhance the look and functionality of a space. Typically, pavers are laid in mortar or sand, but what about laying them directly on the dirt? While you can lay pavers on dirt, there are some disadvantages and advantages to doing so. Here we’ll run through some of them and share how to get the best result if you do decide to lay your pavers on dirt.

Disadvantages to laying pavers directly on dirt

Inadequate drainage

Gravel is generally laid under pavers to provide support and to aid sufficient drainage. Without it, water can often pool on top of the pavers, and if it’s near the house, it can either go inside it or puddle at the foundation. Both can cause serious issues, and preventing this is paramount. This is common when there has been continuous and heavy rain, the water soaks the soil, and it has nowhere to go other than sitting on top of the pavers or running onto whatever is surrounding them.

Prone to movement

Without the support of a suitable substrate, pavers that are laid on soil tend to move. Sinking areas and loose pavers are common. One way this happens is from heavy rain, when the dirt is drenched, it becomes soft and muddy. When someone walks on the pavers, they then sink from the weight. Another way this occurs is from slight earth movements, as the pavers aren’t firmly secure, slight earth movements can cause the pavers to lift or separate.

Weeds are more likely to grow through paver joints

As you are laying pavers straight on the dirt, the likelihood of weeds growing through your pavers is higher than if you laid gravel and then sand beforehand. Weeds can not only disrupt your pavers, but they look unsightly too and having to continuously remove them can be a nuisance. If you are laying pavers onto dirt, make sure you put a weed mat down first.

Unable to weight bear heavy loads

If you are thinking of laying pavers down as a driveway and installing them onto dirt, this isn’t advisable. You are simply not going to get the durability that you need for such a heavyweight and high traffic area. Driving over pavers that have been laid on dirt will result in pavers shifting and sinking over time.

Not a long-lasting solution

If you want your paving project to last, it’s best to install it using a product that is designed for paver installation. While it may be more effort and money initially, it can save you a lot of hassle and money down the track from not having to reposition your pavers more than you should have to.

Advantages to laying pavers onto dirt


There are fewer steps involved with laying pavers directly on dirt than with sand or mortar. So, if you’re looking for something that can be completed fast, this may be a suitable option.

Great as a temporary option

This installation method is great as a temporary measure as it won’t generally last for decades. It will look great in the meantime until you organise to lay it using a more permanent technique.


As sand and gravel aren’t used, you can save yourself some money by laying your pavers onto the dirt. So, if you have budget constraints, this might just be the perfect solution.

Now that you’re aware of the pros and cons of laying pavers directing onto dirt, you can make an informed decision on whether you want to or not. If you do, here are some tips to help you get a result you are satisfied with:

Check the quality of the soil

If your soil contains high clay content, it is most certainly not a good idea to lay pavers on it. This is because it isn’t stable, and it will move over time. Before you can lay your pavers, you will need to prepare the ground first. This involves, clearing out any debris, grass, weeds etc. You’ll need to ensure the surface is flat and even. If there are uneven patches or sinking areas, you should fill these with fresh soil.

Ensure you compact the soil

For the paver job to be as sturdy as possible, you’ll need to compact the soil. The best way to do this is by using a compacter. If you don’t have one, you can hire one from your local hardware store.

Consider drainage

Almost every outdoor construction project will need drainage, and paving is no exception. Failing to factor in drainage may see your home flooded during heavy rainfall or water may collect around the base of your home, and if this isn’t fixed promptly, it can compromise the structural integrity of your home.

Plan the layout of your pavers before setting them into position

It’s better to have a plan of how you are going to lay your pavers rather than just winging it. You’ll get a more professional finish by taking the time to do this first. Once you’ve pavers are laid, ensure you fill gaps with sand to secure them into place.

As we’ve mentioned laying pavers on dirt is a great temporary fix however, if you want your pavers to last and remain intact for years to come, you can’t go past installing them on sand or with mortar. If you’re looking for pavers for your project, check out our stunning collection here at Bonita Stone.