There are many varieties of stone paths. Some people want something grand and big enough that two can walk side by side. Some may want many stones that jigsaw together to form an inviting mosaic. And others simply desire simple stepping stones to lead them from their back door to their garden.
We will focus on how to make a simple stone garden path in this post. You may wonder why a path is needed; surely you can wander from one end of your backyard to the other without a formal path? Yes, you can indeed. However, in a practical sense, a stone path can take away the threat of muddy shoes or boots, and aesthetically, a stone path can be an attractive feature that invitingly leads the eyes (as well as the feet) from one place to another.
- Sod cutter 18” width
- Gravel or pea rock (paver base). Take your path measurements to wherever you buy the base. The experts there will be able to tell you how much crushed gravel, or paver, you need.
- Locally sourced flagstone (2-3 inches thick)
- Metal edging
- Hammer or mallet
- Leveling sand
- String and wooden stakes (if your path will be straight)
- 2 hoses (if your path will curve or wind)
- Weed barrier cloth (landscape fabric)
- Landscape fabric staples
- Inverted marking spray paint
- Knee pads and back brace (optional, but good to have)
- Close-toed shoes/boots
- Decide where you want your path to go. If it will be straight, measure, and then place wooden stakes along each side and run string between them. Make sure that there is an equal distance between the two lines of strings (the width of the path) all the way down. You can use the inverted spray paint to mark along the strings. Once the path is clearly laid out and marked, you can remove the stakes and string.
Note: A path that is wide enough for one person to walk down easily should be 36” across.
- If you want your path to curve or wind, you can mark it with a garden hose on each side; just make sure that the hoses are equidistant from each other for the whole length of the path. Use the inverted spray paint to mark the ground along the edges of the hoses. Then remove the hoses.
- Remove the sod where the path will go. This is quite difficult (not to mention time-consuming) to do using only a shovel and your own strength, but much easier with the help of a gas-powered sod cutter. Sod cutters are great because they remove the roots of grass and weeds to a depth of 1 ½” or 2” beneath the surface. If you happen to need grass for another part of your yard, you will be able to use the fresh strips of sod that are picked up as you make your path. If you have never used this type of tool before, take a look at the brief YouTube tutorial we made at Northside Tool Rental.
- Once all the grass has been removed and you are looking at plain dirt, dig down another couple of inches and remove that dirt.
- This is a good time to install the metal landscape edging along each side of the path. You can purchase this at any of the Big-Box DIY stores, through Amazon, or at a garden center. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but know that you will need a piece of wood to place over the top of the edging and a hammer or mallet to tamp it down (don’t strike the edging directly). Don’t push it too far down; the purpose of the edging is to keep gravel or small stones enclosed on the path. You don’t want them to migrate or wash onto the grass.
- Use the sand to level the entire area (you should have about an inch depth of sand) before you place any of the flagstones. The tops of the flagstones should be about ¼” above the level of the rest of the ground. They will settle in time. Make sure that any stones near your house slope very slightly in the opposite direction. This is to prevent rainwater from being directed towards the foundation of your house.
- Once you have placed the flagstones, check their placement by walking back and forth on them. They should be no further apart than 6-8”, the length of a step for an average person.
- Now place the weed barrier cloth along the bottom of the path on top of the sand and stones. This cloth is a material that allows water to drain but prevents weeds from growing through it. If you need to use more than one continuous piece, overlap by about 6 inches. Use the staples to secure the fabric to the ground.
- At this point, you can use a utility knife to trace around the flagstones so that they don’t have fabric on top of them.
- Place the crushed gravel or pea rock on top of the fabric and around the stones until the entire path is even.
Your path is now complete – time to dance up and down it singing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road!” No? Well, celebrate your success by walking back and forth a few times feeling accomplished. Maybe you’d like to install solar torch lights next!
Whatever project you are working on, we have you covered. At Northside Tool Rental, we work hands-on with our customers, and our flexible rental solutions and loyalty program mean we’re there to help you see the job through ‘til the end. Contact one of our experts today to discuss what tools you need and how we can fully equip you to get the job done. We have convenient locations in Marietta, Gwinnett, Doraville, and Buckhead. Call us at 404-233-6722 to get your project started.