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What is the best way to level your base?


LawnSite Senior Member
I am making a walkway form my house to my garage, I have been reading here for quite some time but I have not come across any real good tips to leveling the base. There is no way to screed it, so what are my options?

What do you do?

NewHorizon's Land

LawnSite Senior Member
Ridgely, MD
A mason told me to put the 10" spikes in the ground at the height you want the base to be then fill to the top of the spikes. Seemed to work ok.

D Felix

LawnSite Bronze Member
You can and probably should screed it. You won't be riding on anything, but to get a smooth base with no dips or humps, you need to screed the base. Put a level on top of the board and watch it as you go.

Other than that, run string lines (pull them *tight*) like crazy and measure down from them.


LawnSite Member
Hamilton, OH
I use 3/4" rigid conduit. It has an outside diameter of 1" which is perfect for sand base. It is also useful for screeding gravel base for that final prep.


LawnSite Member
Northeast, Pa
I do use flexible plastic concrete forms to screed of off for the base. I set them up between 6-9" beyond my patio/walkway, level the forms with a laser level and I fill in the area with modified and compact in lifts. Make sure you have the proper slope.

Once I get to where I am at the very top I usually get rid of the 3/4" stones and keep the 1/2" and down for the final lift. When you get real close and only need to skim the base to make sure that it is perfectly level it is hard to work with the 3/4" stone when you only need to add 1/4" to your base. I will use 6, 8, and 10' aluminum rails to screed with and I constantly check to make sure that the forms don't move. Sometimes as the base level is close to level with the forms it may get touched by the compactor and it will force the form down a little bit, I don't have too much of a problem with this but I am always checking to make sure that I have the correct height.

I don't have any dips, waves, etc.... always comes out really smooth. I don't think it takes any longer to set up the forms then to do string lines and once I have them set I can go really quick because up until the final lifts the forms don't move and I can get it real close, double check the forms and finish up. The forms I have are flexible so I can do curved walkways, patios, etc...


LawnSite Bronze Member
Blah blah blah blah!

I'd give anybody $100 to see them successfully screed base material with a board and level. Putting a level on it doesn't make you screed level. The level only works in one Axis. No wonder I see walkways that look like a rollercoaster.

A quick and easy way to level your base is to set a grid, using spikes or better yet Dee stakes. Make a grid (like graph paper) every 5x5 or 6x6 feet (or whatever your comfortable with) using the stakes. Next, figure out your elevations using a laser, transit or a string line for the visual. Then, tie a ribbon, string, or tape around the stake to mark it and start bringing in the stone. You can compact it in lifts, and have plenty of freedom to work. Start in one area, within one grid, until your at your mark. I use a king of spades grading rake, which seems to be the best "base rake" for easy raking of stone. When your done, move onto the next grid, until all your base is in. When I'm done, I pull out all the stakes, and tamp up/down/left/right and diagonal. The base stone needs to be damp while your hauling it in, so have a hose handy, or else the stone won't compact to the right density.