When you go to someone’s house, one of the first things you encounter is the walkway. How many walkways can you remember? It’s probably not many because most walkways consist of boring prefabricated bricks, faux stone or cut flagstone. Those with a total lack of character are of asphalt or cement. But, with these three tips and a little ambition, you can create a beautiful stone walkway this weekend.
First, Gather Some Rocks
The first thing you’ll need for your stone walkway is a source of flat rocks. If you live in an area with lots of rocks, just look around and you’ll probably find a road cut, embankment, or stream that has plenty of rocks. Just be careful to abide by all applicable laws. Sometimes collecting rocks from creek beds, at least in any quantity, is frowned on by the courts.
A friend or neighbor who has an outcrop or rocky slope on their property can be a veritable gold mine for a project like this. Quarries and mines will sometimes allow people to pick through their remnants with permission. Gathering your own rocks gives you the opportunity to select exactly the ones you want. Another perk is that if you’re of a scientific mind you can do some research and learn the geology of the specimens you’ve collected.
If you don’t have any rocks outdoors, you can always buy them from a hardware, garden or big box home store, or a rock quarry company.
Second, Make a Plan
This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it pays to have some sort of idea about the layout of your stone walkway. Should the stones butt up close to each other or should there be space? Decide if you’re going to go neat and orderly or more random. Consider your timetable. Do you want to dedicate a whole day or weekend to this project, or do it piecemeal in the evenings?
Perhaps the biggest question is substrate. You can invest in a load of sand to lay down as a foundation, or even put down a sheet of plastic under the sand for added stability. This gives a solid yet pliable foundation for your stones to settle into.
Another option is to go with straight-up dirt. This allows for moss and grass to grow in the spaces which, depending on your personal taste, could be a good thing. Whatever layout you decide should reflect what you want.
Finally, Pave the Way
You’ve got your stones and you have a plan. Now it’s time to start putting rocks in the ground. A shovel, trowel and pry bar are likely necessities. Beyond that, it depends on how much ground prep you want to do. If you’re really getting into it and will be laying down plastic with sand on top, you’ll want to dig up the ground to get it level and rock free.
Next, lay down your plastic, then add the sand, and lastly, make it level. If you want it more rustic, simply start digging and set in a stone. Once that one is in position, test it for stability by standing on it to see if it wobbles. Then dig a spot for the next stone.
Checking with a level from time to time will go a long way to keeping your walkway from looking and feeling like a roller coaster. The stones will settle a bit, especially without sand. After a few rains, you may need to reset a few to keep it level.
So, that’s it. All you need is some rocks, dirt and basic tools, plus a little sweat and muscle. This simple weekend project will set your dwelling apart from your neighbors. It’s a simple, affordable way to enjoy the exterior of your home a bit more, too.