Stepping stones can provide a quick facelift to a boulevard, backyard or the side of your house that’s trampled or pecked apart by predators in search of beetles.
As this example shows, a stepping stone path can provide a destination for your feet to stay dry and mud-free while providing eye candy through colors and textures. You can choose a wide range of materials including natural stone, brick or pressed concrete (available in standard or custom colors). Stone comes in a range of prices depending on whether you choose marble, granite, or flagstone.
Even plain concrete pavers can create an inviting design.
Stepping stones can add a new look to your boulevard, front or backyard, or any exterior area used as a footpath. They can replace a trampled section of lawn or cover up for a pecked-apart section while you wait for the time to apply nematode treatments to the chafer-infested turf.
- Shovel or spade
- Marking chalk or a non-toxic, water-removable paint
- Wheelbarrow (optional)
- Stepping stones or pavers
- The filler such as pebbles, sand, gravel, bark mulch
- Topsoil mix
Paths can connect unrelated parts of a yard or exterior space, for example, from the street to the sidewalk, from the back door to a shed, from the sidewalk to a garden plot, or from the street in front of your house to your front entrance way. Paths can also curve around a feature such as a favorite tree.
How well a path works depends on how you plan it. A straight path is easy to follow and predictable and produces a formal look. A curving path looks more natural.
Here are five tips for planning your path:
- Plan a straight, narrow path to make your lawn or garden look longer.
- Design a curving or diagonal path to draw the eye to the outer edges.
- Avoid a path on a downward slope or hill.
- Use a winding path to reveal or conceal features.
Plot a path
To get ideas, visit landscape suppliers, sand and gravel companies, garden centers and stone suppliers. Avoid stones that are too thin. They should be around 2 inches thick or at least 1.75” thick.
Use a wheelbarrow or a two-wheel dolly to move heavy stones; always lift with your legs, not your back.
Measure your stride. With wet feet, walk across a floor or concrete surface. Measure the distance between your footprints. Mark the footprint with chalk or place an object in the center. Now, take a sample stone or paver and place it in the center of the footprint. This will show you how the stones align.
Loosely assemble a half dozen stones and stand back to take a look at the arrangement. Reposition the stones if you like, and then set these stones before moving on.
Once you are satisfied, use chalk or paint to draw outlines over the stones.
Five Easy Steps
- Remove grass sod in chunks of three inches deep. Tip: Don’t discard the shod. You can re-use these to patch up other areas of the lawn.
- Dig deep enough that the stone is flush with the ground.
- Lay down the stepping stones flush with the ground. Press down with a rubber mallet or hammer so you can mow over them. Adjust the height of the stone by scooping out more dirt or adding sand or topsoil.
- Fill the spaces between the stones with pebbles, river rock, gravel, potting soil, compost, or bark mulch. Plant ground cover such as creeping thyme. Dig into the sod to provide enough room for the roots. Use the potting mix to fill around the plant. Water it immediately.
Finally, fill the spaces between steppers or pavers by planting a ground cover such as creeping thyme, sedum, or euonymus. Eventually, the plants will spread and fill the cracks, soften the edges and add splashes of color.