Building a Beautiful Stone Garden Path
Lead The Way to Your Home's Unique Charisma
Lead visitors to your beautiful outdoor spaces with a gorgeous garden path. With a well though out plan, even a simple design with minimal product can be very aesthetically pleasing. Follow these simple steps for a truly satisfying garden path:
1. Layout your desired path and calculate the square footage.
You’ll need to order about 15% more stone than the square footage you calculated because some excess stone will be cut away in order to trim the stones to a perfect fit.
2. Remove any sod, loose topsoil or organic matter.
The sod you'll want to remove is in the selected area until the base level is about 3” to 4” below the desired finished walkway grade. Make sure not to loosen any more soil than necessary.
3. Smooth and compact the soil to make the area as flat as possible.
Loose soil will allow the flagstones to settle and leave you with an uneven pathway. Moist (not wet) soil is the easiest to compact, so add some moisture if the soil is difficult to work. A wooden 4”x4” held vertically can be used to pound on the soil in small areas to compact it.
4. Cover the compacted soil with a weed barrier.
This will keep weeds from growing between the flagstones and it will reinforce the flagstones, preventing them from settling where the soil may be a bit looser.
5. Spread sand over the weed barrier.
You'll need the sand depth to be about 2 inches. Use a straight wood stud or other straight edge to level and smooth the sand. You’ll want the center of your path to crown slightly in order to help the path to drain to either side of your path.
6. Moisten the sand with a mist or fine spray until it is firm.
7. Place your flagstone in the sand.
Lay the flagstone out on the moist sand, moving pieces so the natural shapes make fairly close joints with neighboring pieces. A little extra time spent to obtain an optimal stone layout will ensure a professional looking job and save a lot of trimming time.
8. Shape your stone pieces to fit your design.
Where necessary, shape the stones to fit your designed layout. Shaping your stone pieces to fit your space is easier that you might think. You'll need a chisel and a hammer, or even a hand grinder, depending on the look you want to achieve for your stone's edges. Remember to always wear gloves and safety glasses when cutting stone.
Using a hammer and a chisel: Set your stone on a solid surface. Holding the chisel at a slight angle toward the larger piece of the stone, carefully chisel shallow notches along the line where you wish the stone to break. Work back and forth along that line until you feel the notch is deep enough to break cleanly. Not all stone is the same, so it may break with a shallow score, or may require more work for a deeper score.
When you’re ready to break the stone, set the stone on top of another solid surface (such as a work bench or a larger piece of stone) and line-up the score you just chiseled in the stone over the edge of your surface. Firmly tap the portion of stone you want removed with a hammer. Be sure to keep a strong hold on the main portion of stone to ensure the cleanest break possible. Tap back and forth until the stone breaks. Take your time! If you get impatient and hit too hard, the stone may break along natural imperfections instead of along the notched line. If the stone isn’t breaking after a few passes, try making the scored line a little deeper.
Using a hand grinder: If you prefer a more natural looking cut, you can use a hand grinder to score the underside of the stone. Turn your stone over and cut a single notch into the underside of the stone. Your notch does not need to be very deep. Turn the stone back over and set it on top of another solid surface as described above using the hammer and chisel method. Proceed to break the stone as you would with the chiseled method above. The break will occur in the stone along its natural weak points, leaving you with a much more natural looking edge. Please note that the break will not necessarily occur where you notched the underside of the stone with the grinder. The result will be an edge provided by Mother Nature at the stone's natural weak points.
9. Leveling the stones in your path.
When you are satisfied with the layout and trimming of your pathway, it’s time to level the stones. To do this, place a 2" x 4" flat on the ground on each side of the work area. Then lay another 2" x 4" as a straightedge over the stones, resting on the 2" x 4"’s on either side of your path. Then add some soil or some cardboard under the 2” x 4”’s on either side until the straightedge is just above the top of the thickest piece of the flagstone.
Then, carefully remove one stone at a time and place sand evenly under it until it matches the height of the thickest stone, and almost touches the straightedge. Remember to preserve the slight crowning in the center of your path for optimal draining!
After each stone has been brought to level, use a rubber mallet to tap each stone firmly into place.
10. Finishing your garden path.
When you are satisfied that the flagstones are all the same elevation, you can fill the small gaps between the stones with additional sand. Fill the gaps with topsoil if you want grass or moss to grow between the stones.
Clean any excess sand off of the top of the stones and apply a sealant to protect and beautify the stones.
If you’d like help during the process, or need some help getting started, give us a call and let one of our experts help you Build it Beautiful!