Project Book – Building A Stone Walkway in Your Yard

Having a stone walkway can add a fresh look to any yard. A simple one doesn’t need to be laid by a professional. In fact, it can be accomplished in a few days with basic materials and almost no technical skills. You just need to be able to stamp some dirt flat and haul some heavy bags and rocks. Ready to find out how? Let’s go!

Blog Series: Building a Stone Walkway

Difficulty: Medium
Time: Several Days

Materials involved in this project can be heavy. Make sure you are capable of lifting hundreds of pounds over the course of several days to avoid injury.

Step 1 - Lay Out the Path

Use some stakes with twine or string to mark where you want your path to be. If you have marking spray paint, use this to outline the path for easier view.

The easiest way to layout a walkway is a simple straight or arching path from point A to point B. These are the simplest and easiest to make no matter your skill level.

Step 2 - Remove the Sod

Using a sod cutter, begin to remove the sod from your marked area. A sod cutter (manual or electric) will remove sod in strips. Start with the outside, and take your time to ensure you make a “nearly” perfect edge, be it straight or curved. The inner strips of sod won’t need near the level of care that the outer strip needed.

When using a sod cutter with an adjustable height, set it to the maximum possible height setting to avoid more digging later. We are going to want a final depth of about 5 inches.

Once you have used the sod cutter and removed the top layer of ground, use your spade to dig the area out to a depth of about 5 inches as was mentioned previously.

This part WILL take you a while, as you have a lot of dirt and sand to move. Don’t worry about rushing here, as an injury is always possible when moving heavy amounts of anything. Take your time and hydrate well.

Step 3 - Measure and Order Your Materials

Measure the length and width of your path, multiply those two values together, then add 15%. The total will be a good approximation of the square footage of your path. You will want to order enough stone to cover this area.

Now take that number, and divide it by 108. This equation will calculate your cubic yardage and tell you how much sand you will need to order for a base.

Step 3 - Lay Sand and Filler Materials

Wheel your sand in on a wheel barrel and get ready to pour. Using sand here instead of a gravel base will help keep cost down at the expense of having to fix a sunken rock every few years (worth the exchange if you ask us).

Lay a 3-inch layer down across the path and use a rake to smooth it out. Use a level to make sure any problem areas are properly leveled out.

Step 4 - Set the Stone

If you’ve ever played Tetris or solved a jigsaw puzzle, then this step will be a piece of cake.

Lay the stones out in your yard so you can get a good look at all of them at once, choose rocks that look good together, and move them into place!

Be sure to use a dolly or wheelbarrow here to carry the heavier rocks, and always lift from the legs, not from your back, to avoid injury.

The rocks will look the most natural if you leave some irregular spacing between them. We recommend placing about 6 or 12 at a time, taking a step back to observe, and then adjusting if needed.

While placing the stones, your number 1 goal (besides making it look awesome) is to ensure the tops of all the stones are equal and level. You may have to dig out or fill in some sand depending on the thickness of your stones, and you should use a level on your first few stones to make sure everything is flat. After the first few stones, you should get the hang of it and move pretty quickly while still being careful and precise.

Repeat until you’ve covered your entire walkway!

Step 5 - Fill in the Cracks

Lastly, we want to fill in the cracks between the stones. Use a mixture of 50/50 potting soil and sifted compost or bulk mulch, and shovel it into the cracks as best you can. You won’t get everything in there, so don’t worry about being too neat. Use a push broom to fill in the gaps and clean the area. You’re almost there!

Step 6 (Optional) - Add Ground Cover

To give your walkway that natural “grown in” look, consider adding ground cover in between the stones. You may want to use a plant like creeping thyme or a similarly hardy, spreading plant. Dig out space where you plan on planting it down into the sand layer to give the roots some room to stretch and breathe!

Wrap Up

All that hard work is finally done! It will take a full season or so for your ground cover to really spread in, and the newly placed stones might shift once in a while (you can just put it right back if it does), but your quick and inexpensive walkway is complete! Did you follow this blog and make your own walkway? Leave a comment with a picture. We might even showcase it on our blog and Facebook page if you do! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next time.