3 ways to make a garden path with sand or mortar

July 29, 2015

Paths and steps make your garden more accessible, and they can enrich your landscape with their texture and lines. But to be effective, they need to be thoughtfully sited and well constructed.

3 ways to make a garden path with sand or mortar

How will your path be used?

Consider how a path will be used when selecting your materials.

  • A high-traffic connection between the house and driveway, for example, calls for a stone or brick path.
  • A little used woodland walk might be covered with pine needles or moss.

When deciding how to span the space between your garden and house, there are various things to keep in mind when making a path. Here is a rundown.

1. Stones in sand

  • To set stones in sand, either butt them together or space them one centimetre apart on all sides.
  • Pour sand on top and work it well into the cracks with a broom; apply water to the joints to settle the sand.
  • Once the stones are dry, add more sand and sweep until the cracks are filled, then apply water again. The more sand is packed into the joints, the tighter the hold will be.
  • Interlocking pavers should be tapped together to ensure tight, uniform spacing.

2. Setting in mortar

  • To set stones in mortar, spread strips of mortar over the base where the stones will sit.
  • Place the stones, leaving one centimetre of space between them; use premade spacers to ensure evenness.
  • Tamp the stones into the mortar and check for levelness, then fill the joints with more mortar, removing the spacers before it hardens.
  • Smooth and recess the joints slightly by running the rounded end of a stick or paintbrush over them.
  • Remove any excess mortar from the stone surface.

3. A green alternative

  • Instead of using sand or mortar, fill the spaces between the stones with a one-to-one mix of sand and compost.
  • Plant with pearlwort, moss, mother-of-thyme or other low growing ground covers for an attractive "joint" that won't need mowing.
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