How To Lay Stepping Stones

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An easy home improvement project for homeowners is laying stepping stones to create a decorative walkway in your yard. With this brief tutorial, we can teach you how to lay stepping stones in your yard.

Why You Should Add Stepping Stones To Your Yard

Adding a stepping stone walkway to your yard will encourage and direct your guests and visitors to use a defined path through your yard or garden.

Stepping stones will define a path to encourage your guests to view your yard and garden features without trampling and killing your grass.  High-traffic areas can benefit from stepping stones as your yard will look less abused by foot traffic, giving your yard a more manicured look.

If you have a large area that has mulch, adding stepping stones will encourage people to not walk on the mulch. Stepping stones will also add visual interest to a large garden or yard–keeping the eye moving from place to place.

Choosing Your Stepping Stones

Stepping stones can be purchased from your local masonry yard, home improvement store, or found in a woods or field near your home.

If you are going to lay field stone, look for “field stone veneer.”  Field stone veneer is stone that is about 4 inches in depth.  Ask for native stone veneer is you are looking for a natural stone path.

Home improvement stores sell pre-made concrete pavers that are uniform in shape, size, and color for that will make laying your stepping stone path very easy to lay.

child-736365_1280Feeling creative? You can decorate concrete stepping stones with mosaic glass pieces or mosaic tile for artistic, one-of-a-kind stepping stones. It is easier to decorate your stepping stones before placing them in the ground.  Make sure you give them plenty of time to dry before you set them.

How To Lay Stepping Stones

Tool and Equipment List For Your Stepping Stone Project

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Crowbar (using a crowbar is easier to lift your stones off the ground than using your hands)
  • small bubble level
  • Chalk
  • Measuring Stick cut at 26.5 inches long and marked at 13.25 inches
  • Shovel
  • Tamp
  • Brick/Block Saw

Before You Begin To Lay Your Stepping Stones

Before you begin your stepping stone project, you should consider your skill level and budget and decide if you are going to lay your stepping stones directly on dirt or if you will be setting the stones in concrete or mortar.  For the purposes of this project, we will be discussing placing your stepping stones on top of a sand base.  You could easily modify these directions to place a concrete base, instead of sand for your stepping stones.

Prepare Your Project Area

Mark the path using two garden hoses and spray paint. The path should be 2 to 4 feet wide, depending on your personal preference. Lay the hoses straight or bend them to outline a winding path. Transfer the garden hose outline to the grass with landscaping spray paint.

Calculate the total depth of excavation needed. Do this by adding together the inches required for the base (4 to 6 inches) the sand bedding (1 inch) and the stepping stone’s thickness. This gives you the total depth needed to excavate. Remove any grass or ground cover from your project area.  You can lay your stepping stone’s directly on the grass however, your pavers will have a more natural look and be sturdier if they are recessed into the ground. Renting a mini excavator will clear your pathway and dig the appropriate depth easily and quickly. Dig out to the indicated depth.

Compact the base using a tamp before proceeding.  Depending on your soil, you can dig deeper and add crushed gravel as a base, before adding sand.

Dry Fit Your Stepping Stones

Unload your stones and place them about where you want them.  With a piece of chalk, mark the center of each stone.  Use your measuring stick to measure 26.5 inches from center to center of your stones.  Adjust your stone spacing accordingly.  If you are placing your stepping stone next to a driveway or porch, the measurement should be 13.25 inches from the edge to the center of your first stone.

Project tip: If you are placing your stepping stones on a slight incline, make sure that your stepping stones are level and not following the slope of the ground.  If your stepping stone is at an angle, your guests may lose their balance.  Having your stones level will ensure an easy step from stone to stone.

Placing your Stepping Stones

Before laying the stepping stones, a layer of bedding sand is placed over the compacted base material. This layer provides a bed into which the stepping stones are set. The sand bedding also helps to protect the sand joints from being eroded away. Your material supplier can provide advice on the appropriate type of sand that should be used for bedding purposes.

Replace your stepping stones into their corresponding areas and tamp each stone down into the ground by stepping and walking on the stone. Remove additional soil, as needed, to bury uneven portions of the stepping stones. For example, if one side of a paver is smooth and the other side features several raised bumps, remove some soil and place the paver or stone in the path with the raised side down so the paver lays flat in the path.

Place a small level on top of each stepping stone to ensure that the stone is level.  Also check that the stone sits directly on top of the ground and does not wobble or lift under foot traffic.

If pavers or stones need to be cut to size, use a brick/block saw and remember to wear safety glasses.

Finishing Your Project

Fill in around your stepping stones with sand, gravel, mulch, or dirt. Broadcast grass seed if needed.

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If you have any questions about how to lay stepping stones or any other home improvement project, ask our DIY experts.  Give us a call or send us an email and we will gladly help you with your home improvement project.