Sometimes, we want to add something to the interior or exterior of or home to give it a little more pizzazz. If you’re looking to make some changes to your backyard or front yard, a natural stone walkway can be a beautiful idea! In this article, James explains how to build a natural stone walkway.
Build a Natural Stone Walkway
Dear James: I like to do flower gardening and plan to install a natural stone path through mine. What type of stones should I buy and what is the best method to lay them? — Bonnie S.
Dear Bonnie: Using natural stone is one of the most attractive pathway materials. This is particularly true in a flower garden where you do not want the bright colors of the pathway materials to complete with the brilliance of the flowers and the foliage.
If you are in a hurry to get it built before cold outdoor weather sets in or if your budget is limited, you might consider using bricks or interlocking pathway pavers. You should be able to find some of muted colors at your home center store, but they still will not look as good as natural stone.
There are several types of natural stone typically used for garden pathways: sandstone, limestone, slate, granite, and flagstone. Since stone is very heavy making the transportation costs heavy, the type of stone indigenous to the locality is usually used.
Stone with a high quartz content, such as sandstone, is hard and durable. If the stone appears to sparkle in the sunlight, it probably has a high quartz content. If you are doing the work yourself, limestone is a good material because it is usually delivered in fairly thin pieces. This reduces the weight so you can handle them yourself.
You can build either a closed or open pathway. In a closed pathway, the stones are carefully fit together. In an open design, the stones are placed further apart, usually the length of your typical stride. An open pathway is much easier to lay, but you will have to do some weeding in between the stones or plant a ground cover between them.
Either method you chose, it is critical to build a solid gravel base for the stones. Dig down about four inches and lay a bed of small gravel. Make sure to use crushed or angular gravel so the tiny pieces interlock for a stable base. Small smooth pea gravel would eventually roll out from underneath the stones, allowing them to settle and become uneven.
If you have enough medium sized pieces of stone, you should be able to find pieces that fit together to lay a closed pathway. Attempt to position the stones so that none of the gaps between them will be greater than one inch. Use a hammer and chisel to chip some pieces to size for the proper gaps.
For a path width of two feet or more, crown the path so the center is about one-half inch higher that the edges. This will keep water from standing on the path after a rain. A two-foot width is adequate for one person and 46 inches is a good width for two people walking together.
After the gravel base is poured, tamp it down with the end of a 4×4 beam. Position the stones over the gravel bed. You may have to add or remove a little gravel in spots depending on the thicknesses of the various pieces of stone. Fill in the gaps with more gravel.
Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.
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