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Stepping stones are great additions to your yard or garden. Last time we looked at building a flagstone walkway and they look great but sometimes all you want is a few stones in the grass between the house and the fence to suggest a path to go on or stones to walk on in the middle of your flower bed so you don’t get muddy feet or step on your plants while gardening and there are plenty of other reasons. Stepping stones are the perfect solution. They can be made from natural stones like flagstone or you could use manufactured paving slabs which you can buy in many sizes but the cost can be up there.

 How to Make Stepping StonesMaking stepping stones is easy though, and only limited by your imagination. We are going to look at how to make a couple of different styles. You could make natural looking stones or you could make decorative ones that have a mosaic look or just a fun whimsical folksy look but the way you make them can be very much the same.

For the decorative ones you can create a mosaic with tile chips, create patterns or edging with colored glass, marbles or even seashells. Use leaves or flowers to create impressions. The sky’s the limit with this project.

1. First – if you are not outside or in a work area be sure to protect your working area with old newspapers or a drop sheet of some kind. Also protect yourself, concrete has lime in it which can be hard on the skin and clothes.

2. Get your mold(s), which can be an old plastic pail cut 3” high, a pizza box, a garbage pail lid, any object that would hold some cement or for a natural look just cut holes in the lawn where you want your stepping stones to be and the shape you want them (irregular) and remove the sod.

3. If you are creating a mosaic design, make sure that you have laid out the decorative items in the pattern you want to ensure that it will look the way you want it to look. (You could even use a large leaf like from rhubarb to make an impression in the cement.)

4. Prepare your cement/concrete mix (which you can get at any lumber or hardware store) following the manufacturer’s directions.

Tip: There is a concrete mix that has small stones in it and these stones will make it stronger, or there is a sand mix, also concrete but with no stones, which makes it easier to work with if you’re are adding decorator items.

The best way to mix concrete is to measure out the amount of concrete mix you will need first and place it in your mixing tub (a bucket or a wheel barrow) then add the water It is much easier to get the proportions correct by doing it this way. You don’t want it too runny or too dry.
Now is also the time to apply the concrete dye if you are using a concrete color, add it into the water before adding the water to the concrete. If you are looking for a natural look a little brown color works well.

5. Fill your mold with the concrete and remove air bubbles by gently tapping around the outside of the mold. If you are using the ground as your mold use a stick and poke it up and down in the mix several times to get it to level out well and remove the air.

6. Allow concrete to begin to set (5-10 minutes) though the time is a very inaccurate thing as the setting time is determined by how wet or dry you mixed it, by weather, humidity, temperature, and if it’s in the sun it will set very quick.

7.  How to Make Stepping StonesNow before it gets too hard yet is set enough to support your decorator items smooth the surface with a trowel or putty knife and then you can add in your personal touches. Glass, marbles or stones used in fish tanks, make impressions of hands or feet or a big leaf. If you want a natural stone look use some crumpled up news paper or something similar and roll it over the surface to give it a little bit of texture.

8. Allow to sit for 2- 3 days to completely set. Then very gently, slip or “pop” it out of the mold. To help it look good and last longer you can seal it with an acrylic sealer and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Sometimes it takes one or two to perfect your technique so that is looks the way you want it.

Tip: When placing the stones in your garden or on walkways, be sure to have them set deep enough into the ground so that they are not a tripping hazard and if you’re using them in a grassy area that might be mowed, also insure they are deep enough.

Where stepping stones are being laid through grass, space them out on the lawn then walk the path, adjusting the spacing until you arrive at a pattern that suits you. When satisfied with the spacing and direction, cut around the slabs using a sharpened straight-bladed spade or turf edger. Lift the slab and remove the turf without damaging the surrounding grass and remove any topsoil to the depth of the slab.

Stepping stones through a grass or gravel area makes a practical path and a pleasing garden feature. Where the line can be curved, it draws the eye and increases the urge to follow it. Have fun and make some!

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One Response to “How to Make Stepping Stones”

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