A stone path is always a welcome component of any garden or one can be installed just as a pathway around the house. If you like, you can even run a stone trail from your front door to the garage or driveway. Natural stones give an ordered and attractive appearance to almost any footpath. With a little bit of planning and labor, a stone-faced walkway on your property will be a welcome addition.
Select the stones. This almost always means a trip to a building supply or gardening supply outlet. Field or river stone is usually too round to be used in such an endeavor. Flagstone is a great material for building a stone path.
Lay out the pathway. You must decide now just where you want the footpath to go and how wide it will be. You can use lime to mark the path or just start digging.
Excavate the ground so that you can lay down a base of sand and perhaps gravel. Gravel helps if there is a drainage problem. If you are just using sand, then several inches is as far as you need to go with the digging, but 6 inches might be necessary if both gravel and sand need to be used. If the stone path is being installed in a manicured lawn, then you will first have to remove the sod with a pointed shovel.
Fill the trench with gravel. Leave enough room for another layer of sand and then the stones. Use a wheelbarrow and rake to fill the bottom of the trench with gravel. Don’t forget to compact the gravel. This can be done with your feet, a large post or a commercial compactor (usually not necessary).
Cover the gravel with sand. If you live in a dry climate, you might not need any gravel. Rake the sand smooth and compact in by hand.
Put the rock slabs in place. Try to arrange each slab or rock so it takes up as much of the space as possible. Sand will go between the rocks, so you want to keep the gap between stones to a minimum.
Fill between the stepping stones with loose sand and don’t forget to compact the sand. This can be done by hand.
Tips & Warnings
- Make sure you have enough stones on hand to finish the job. If not, a return trip to the supplier takes time, plus the same material may not be available.
- If your walkway has a slight slope, drainage is less likely to be a problem. The slope can run from side to side. That should be enough.
- Stones (flat-faced stepping stones work best)
- Work gloves and work clothes
- Pointed shovel
- Steel Rake
- Sand and gravel (gravel may not be necessary for some places)
- Special Thanks to Ricardo Marquez for the lovely photo!