A flagstone walkway is made of large pieces of flat natural stones to create a unique and beautiful garden path. Because these walkways are designed for the individual pleasure of the homeowner, they can be planned and placed in virtually any pattern that the homeowner likes. However, there are a few tips that can make the walkway look natural and that can create a safe and useful path through one’s garden.
Why Flagstone Pathways Are a Great Choice
Not only is the design of these walkways mostly up to the desire of the homeowner, but also the style of stone used is a personal preference. Some homeowners prefer to use perfectly round flagstones, which are all the same size. Others prefer to use rectangular and square stones that are placed right next to each other to create a solid path. However, a very popular natural look is to lay stones that are cut unevenly at small distances from each other to create a very unstructured path. In addition, the path can take any shape that one desires; it can be straight, have a right angle or have one or more curves. Unstructured paths are perfect for country-style gardens.
There are several other reasons why flagstone walkways are fabulous for homeowners. The stones can be easily found at most home improvement stores and can be laid oneself in a day or two. There is no need to hire a landscaper for a simple design. In addition, flagstone is not terribly expensive. The stones are quite sturdy, are easy to clean and should last for numerous years. Finally, because flagstone comes in so many shapes and colors, there are choices that will look great in any garden.
Materials Needed to Create a One-of-a-Kind Flagstone Pathway
Many homeowners will already have some of the items needed for creating their own pathways. For example, most gardeners have a trowel, a shovel, a rake and a broom in their garages. They will also need a rubber mallet, a level, sand to place under and around the stones and the stones themselves.
Those who are planning to build a structured pathway will also need landscaper’s edging and heavy-duty landscaping fabric to limit the weeds and grass that will try to grow around the stones. Most unstructured pathways are meant to have grass growing around the stones. However, if one is planning to fill in the area between the stones with mulch or pebbles, landscaping fabric will be needed as well.
Basic Steps for Building the Pathway
First, the homeowner will need to plan the walkway’s design and take measurements to determine how many stones will be needed. If using irregularly shaped stones, approximately one large stone should be used for every two smaller stones. If purchasing flagstone in bulk, the stones are normally sold by weight with a ton of stones covering nearly 100 square feet of land.
After purchasing the stones, the next step is to lay the flagstones out in the garden in the desired design. It is important to lay the stones out before beginning to dig because this allows the homeowner to redesign the path’s shape and to rearrange the stones. Practicing walking on the stones is important for homeowners to determine if the stones are placed at comfortable walking distances. A good distance between stones is approximately four inches.
After this, the individual can begin work by digging around each stone with a trowel to remove the top of the sod. Using the shovel next, he or she should dig about four inches of dirt out and pour approximately two inches of sand into the hole. Because some flagstones may be thicker than others are, more sand may need to be placed in some holes than others to make the pathway level. Of course, a long level should be used for checking the surface of each stone after it is hammered securely into its hole with the rubber mallet. A two by four may be easier to use than a level for checking that each stone is set equally in height.
Finally, the installer should walk on the new pathway. If any of the stones are wobbly, he or she may need to adjust the amount of sand under them. The grass around the stones may need to be repaired a bit as well after the digging; this can usually be done using pieces of the sod that was previously removed.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Although the installation of a flagstone walkway is not difficult, there are several tips and tricks that can make the process safer, easier and more efficient. First, when choosing the design of the pathway, it is wise to take into account the style of home and the area where the walkway will be placed. For example, irregularly shaped stones are perfect for walkways that are going through gardens or that are placed around rustic, country homes. On the other hand, flagstone pathways that are in high traffic areas, such as between a driveway and a front door, should be made of regularly shaped, evenly spaced stones to decrease the incidence of tripping.
Second, it is imperative to consider the type of stones that one is using for the climate. Those who live in warmer climates can choose from most types of stone. However, those in colder climates that see a great deal of snow should choose denser flagstones, such as granite or quartzite, rather than porous stones, such as limestone or sandstone, which easily absorb water. Porous stones can quickly break in colder climates.
Most homeowners will find that they can easily install their own flagstone walkways in their gardens by using some creativity and following instructions. This type of pathway can make a garden appear more inviting while increasing a home’s curb appeal and resale value. These simple steps and helpful tips will make this project safe and simple.