Building a stepping stone path in 3 quick steps

Stepping stone pathways can be used to break up the space within a garden, add interest to a yard and define boundaries. Here's how you can lay your own stepping stone path in three quick steps.

Building a stepping stone path in 3 quick steps

What you will need

  • Stepping stones about 5 cm (2 in) thick
  • Drywall saw or old bread knife
  • Trowel
  • Tarp
  • Sand, 25 kg (55 lbs) for every 10 stones
  • Rubber mallet

1. Cut the turf

  • Space your stepping stones along the path to match the average stride of the most frequent users.
  • Using your stones as a guide, cut through the turf around each stone with a drywall saw or bread knife.

2. Make holes

  • Move your stones to the side and dig out the cut turf with a trowel.
  • Dig about 5 centimetres (2 inches) deeper than the thickness of your stones to allow for the sand base.
  • To make cleaning up easier, heap the turf and soil that you're removing onto a tarpaulin as you work.

3. Lay stones

  • Put sand into each hole to a depth of five centimetres (two inches) and level it off.
  • Set a stone on the sand and wiggle or tap it with a rubber mallet until it's flush with the grass.
  • Add or remove sand as necessary.
  • Repeat until you've positioned all of your stones.

Extra tips for stone paths and patios

  • Having problems lifting loose stones (or "pavers") in pathways or patios? Try using a plunger. Wet the stone's surface for maximum suction before applying the plunger.
  • If you need to remove a damaged paver from a path, first clear away any sand or soil surrounding the broken paver. Lever the paver out with a pointed trowel, taking care not to damage any adjacent paving. Settle your replacement paver and tamp it down with a rubber mallet (or with a club hammer if the blows are softened with a stout piece of timber). Fill in any gaps between the pavers with fine sand.
  • To avoid hours of backbreaking stone-work make a pathway or patio from poured concrete and carve "joints" into the smoothed surface with a brick jointing tool. Work quickly from a pattern so the concrete won't set before you're finished. Also, be sure to allow for expansion joints.
  • Use a piece of wood as a fulcrum for your crowbar to ease the removal of flagstones laid on a sand paving bed. Doing so will reduce the pressure on your back and protect adjacent stones from damage.
  • Remove food stains on flagstones with a solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Swab the solution onto the stain and work it in with a stiff scrubbing brush, then rinse with clean water. If this doesn't work, try mixing some household ammonia into the solution.

Keep these tips and three quick steps in mind and you'll be better able to build and maintain a lovely stepping stone pathway with ease.

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