Lay a Stone Path
Credit: Opensource

Stone pavers are a durable material that can be made into a variety of shapes and patterns.  Once they are in place, they are essentially maintenance free. However, choosing the type of pavers to use for your new installation can be quite daunting because of so many choices.

Some of the most commonly used materials for residential and commercial projects are natural stone, concrete pavers, clay brick and synthetic rubber that looks like the real thing.[1]

You also have to decide what shape or pattern you want to create. This will be highly dependent on the type of landscaping and existing pavers on your property.

In general, pavers designed to be used for a garden walkway, pathway around your property do not need to be as strong as pavers used for a driveway, or even a patio with outdoor equipment.[1]

Type of Pavers

Natural Stone is an ideal paving material of its durability even in the harshest climates. Varieties include limestone, bluestone, granite, travertine, marble and flagstone in many colors. Each come in various shapes and sizes and are perfect laying a walkway.[1]

Concrete pavers are 100% man-made with cement and aggregate.[1]  These types of pavers can be used in high traffic areas as well as the base for outdoor patios. They look like natural stone but cost a fraction of the price of the real thing.  As with any type of concrete, these pavers can be dyed to any color you want.

Clay Brick pavers are made from natural clay that is fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures making them extremely strong and one of the most durable types of pavers. They are also less resistant to the UV rays allowing them to maintain their original color.[1]

Rubber Synthetic pavers have become popular recently because they are environmentally friendly because they are made from recycled tires.[1] These types of pavers are great for active areas, playgrounds or gyms.  It terms of cost, they are very affordable and easy to install.

Stone Paver Pathways

If there are high traffic areas of your yard, or you have a shed located on your property that you will like to get to without walking on the grass, then a stone walkway made from large block stones or individual pavers will be a good option. If the path will carry a lot of foot traffic, the wider the better. Typically for less trafficked paths, 2” stones or pathways are fine. However, consider 3” for more trafficked areas.

If you have decided to use natural stone, the biggest problem you may have is actually locating the type you want. The usual home improvement stores usually only have flagstaff, so if you want something more elaborate than that, you will have to special order it.

If you would rather not go to that hassle, consider concrete pavers because they are more readily available at big blue and big orange. In any event, the larger stone pathways or the paver pathways can be installed using the same techniques.

How to Lay a Stone Walkway
Credit: Opensource

Before You Begin

Before you start this project, you will have need the following materials and tools.  Before you buy the pavers, measure the space of the proposed pathway.

If using individual natural stepping stones, you will not need as many as concrete pavers. Simply lay them out with enough space between them for a normal step.

For concrete pavers, decide if you want to create individual steps with multiple pavers, or one continuous paver path.

  • Tape measure
  • Stakes and twince
  • Claw hammer
  • Shovel with spade
  • Pry bar
  • Trowel
  • Garden rake
  • Gloves
  • Landscaping cover
  • Sand
  • Stone or concrete pavers

The sand will be used for the base. Purchase roughly 50 lbs. per 10 square feet of walkway.

Laying Flagstone Path

Laying Out the Path

  1. Using the stakes and twine you bought, establish the perimeter of the pathway. However, make it a little wider than the actual path will ultimately be to allow you to work within the area with the shovel.
  2. Dig the trench with the shovel using the twine as a guide. A pointed shovel will allow you to dig easier, however a square one is better to lift the sod out of the hole and keep a straight edge along the grass.
  3. You will probably be cutting through sod. If so, cut through it down to a depth that will allow the pavers or stone to be flush with the top of the grass when placed on a bed of 2 inches of sand.
  4. If you pull up large tracts of sod, place them in a wheel barrow in shallow water in sunlight. These can be reused in other areas of the yard.
  5. Once you have the path dug out, smooth it with a rake
  6. Finally, lay landscaping cloth down over the length of the path to prevent weeds from penetrating your pathways. Typically the rolls of fabric come in 3 ‘ wide rolls which can be trimmed as desired.
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Preparing the Pathway

At this point, it is important to pour the sand you purchased over the landscape fabric and smooth it with the rake. This base will support the stone or pavers and help to keep them stable when they are walked upon.

  1. Dump each bag of sand along the trench pathway.
  2. Spread the sand out smoothly with a rake.
How to Lay a Stone Walkway

Set and Level Pavers

Depending on the type of material you have chosen, this part is either going to go fast, or be more time consuming. If you purchased large natural stone, be careful when you lift it to put them in place. Always lift with your legs, not your back. If possible, get someone to help you lift each stone and set it into place.

Smaller pavers will be easier to lay without potentially hurting your back. However, whatever type of paver, the same basic steps still apply. For the purposes of this discussion we will assume you have purchased large square paver stone with no spaces in between. Essentially, you will have one solid stone path.

  1. Lift the stone paver up relying heavily on your legs to bear the brunt.  If you need to move the stone to the planned pathway, use a wheel barrow.
  2. Place the paver on the ground and “walk it” or slide it into place moving one corner at a time. If you scrap too much sand from under one side of the paver, hold it up on one side and push it back under with your hand. Make sure the paver is level.
  3. If the paver rocks or tilts a little when you stand on it, left the low corner with a pry bar and trowel more sand under it. Lower, then test it again by standing on it.
  4. Repeat the process along the entire pathway.
  5. Once you have laid the path, allow a week for them to settle completely.
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Synthetic pavers offer a quick and easy way to create a walkway. They are also very durable requiring no maintenance.

Final Thoughts

How to Lay a Stone WalkwayCredit: mjpyroCreating a stone or paver pathway can add to the beauty of your landscape as well as provide functionality if you want to get to one area to the other without getting grass or mud on your shoes. 

The key to success is planning the layout, then forming a solid sand base that will allow the stone to settle in a week or two.

If the pavers continue to rock, then lift the low corner and add more sand until you get it right. Stone pathways are durable and should last for decades.

However, if you have an area that is not suitable for a pathway, you might want to consider creating a dry creek bed.

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