How to Remove a Paver Walkway

What You'll Need
Square mouth shovel
Grass trimmer
Paver extraction tongs

A paver walkway, after it has been used for a few years, can sometimes be more difficult to remove than it was to install. Some types of soil around the pavers, especially those with a clay base, can become compacted until they are almost as hard as concrete. Grass that has grown around the pavers can also interfere with removal. This issue will be even more of a problem if you wish to re-use the pavers you have removed. Often, with pressure to their edges from pry bards, some fragile pavers will easily break during removal. For these reasons, paver removal normally requires special removal tools and techniques, such as those discussed below.

Step 1 – Preparing the Soil Around the Pavers

You may be able to pry loose embedded pavers that you plan to discard by loosening them with a pry bar. Plan on spending extra time gathering and removing the paver pieces that may be broken by the pry bar. For the least time consuming method of paver removal, first loosen and remove compacted soil and grass in which your pavers are embedded. Next, clip grass around your pavers as close to the roots as possible, and dig the remainder of the grass—including existing roots—away from the pavers. Use a pick and square mouth shovel to reduce the level of your lower paver surface and any soil surrounding your pavers.

Step 2 – Adjust the Paver Removal Tongs

Most paver removal tongs are adjustable, giving you a better chance to remove pavers without breaking them. To adjust your tongs, locate the pins in the tongs. Then, place the tongs on top of a paver, remove the pins, and adjust the tongs to fit your paver. When the removal tongs are positioned against the side edges of the paver, replace the pins.

Step 3 – Lift the Paver from Its Position

You'll need good leverage to lift pavers, so before you begin pulling upward on your removal tongs, you will need to position yourself correctly above the paver. You can do this by first keeping your back straight, then place each of your feet on opposite sides of the paver, keeping your  knees slightly bent. Holding the two extraction tong handles, force the handles together until the lower ends of the tongs are pushed tight against the paver. Lift the paver upwards. If the paver does not come loose from the soil, try shifting the extractor slightly back and forth to break the paver loose. Then, lift it out of the soil. Use this same procedure to remove other pavers on your walkway.

Step 4 – Level and Prepare Your Ground

Whether you plan to replace your pavers with grass, concrete, or different pavers, you'll need to prepare the ground. Use the shovel to remove unwanted gravel, soil, or debris. Then, level the walkway surface, and add sand, gravel, or top soil as required.