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There are a lot of options when it comes to installing a walkway to your front door or around your house. You could choose a simple gravel path, use common poured concrete, cast-concrete pavers or use interlocking brick to create a formal walk or even set it in a herringbone pattern. All these materials can deliver a good, serviceable walk, if properly installed with a good base and drainage.
I have chosen to talk about installing a flagstone or flat stone walkway. Flagstones are the stone of choice for a truly natural look, and come in many different colors and shapes allowing for unique color schemes and patterns to be achieved.
Flagstones vary in thickness from 1 to 3 in., and can be cut in regular shapes or be left varied irregular up to 30” across or even larger. Prices and availability will vary by region.
This material looks good and it can be fairly quick to install. Flagstone though is quite heavy with a 1” thick stone weighing about 14 pounds per square foot so a little sweat equity will be needed.

Start by planning your project.
A walkway can be made just about any size or shape but most are between 3 and 4 ft. wide. A nicely curved path is always much more interesting but sharp curves can be difficult. Mixing stones of different shapes and sizes takes a little more time during installation but it will give you a distinctive, one-of-a-kind walkway. I like the irregular stones but a mixed square and rectangular pattern has an elegant formal look that really looks sharp when matched with a more formal house. Also if your site is not flat and slopes more than 2” for every 4’, you will need to consider installing some steps along the length, in between some level sections of walkway.

Laying out your project is very important.
Lay out your walkway where you want it to go by driving a wood stake at each corner and then tie a mason’s string from stake to stake to show the perimeter. For curved stone walkways use garden hoses instead of string and stakes. Lay the hose out in a graceful curve to mark one side of the path from one end of the projected path to the other. Take another hose and repeat the process for the other side, matching the curves already established by the first hose. Try to make the width of the stone walkway fairly consistent from one end to the other. If you’re planning a straight walk make sure you check the corners for square by using a framing square.

 How to Install a Stone Walkway You must remove top soil and sod for the base material.
We need to have a firm base (an 8” thick base is recommended for a quality job or a 5” base is minimum) so we will need to remove any sod and top soil that our path will be going over. Using a spade cut along your perimeter lines, then cut the interior sod into manageable pieces and remove them, then finish excavating the top soil and material in the trench to the desired depth for the base materials.

Tip: Use the sections of sod you have removed to make repairs to your lawn elsewhere as this is good sod you are removing.

It’s time to install the base material.
First off lay some landscape fabric down over the bottom of the entire trench you’ve just established for your stone walkway. This is important to suppress potential weeds from growing through between the stone later. To save on time and effort have your base material delivered as close to your path as practical. I like starting off with some gravel for a base and then topping it with stone dust about 2” thick. You could also use sand for your base material. If your walk starts at your driveway pour the first load there to make a little ramp and then wheel your material to the far end of the path and work back to the beginning.  How to Install a Stone Walkway Fill the entire trench about half full with the gravel and then level it off roughly and pack it down with a hand tamper and some water or if the job is large you could rent a gas tamper from you local rental dealer. Then, fill the path to about 3” from the top of the grass and level and tamp again. Now use your stone dust put in 2” and level and tamp or pack it. Rake it until the area looks flat to your eye.

Tip: Cut a piece of 2 x 4 a few inches shorter than the width of your path and use it as a screed board to smooth and level out the base by moving the board from side to side as you pull it towards yourself.

It is not all that important that the path is level (as long as you don’t feel like your going down a ramp it should be less than 1” to 24”) but what you don’t want is it going up and down along the length of it like waves so take a long 2×4 and check it for straight and smooth length wise as well as the width. Tamp it one final time and we are ready to start installing the stone.

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3 Responses to “How to Install a Stone Walkway”

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[…] you would like a little more detail on how to install check out my blog post on How to Install a Stone Walkway. I know it has some differences but most of the installation instructions are similar. By the way […]