Installing fieldstone garden path

tami58September 15, 2008

Hi all,

I just purchased a bunch of fieldstone off of Craig's list for $50. It filled up the back of my pick up truck & the previous owner said it was probably about a pallet. I can't wait to get started on my projects!

The first project is to lay a garden path from my driveway to my deck steps & under the steps. I placed a perennial bed in this area & I would like it all to blend together & be very informal.My plan is to place mulch over the entire area & I want it to appear that the stepping stones are laid on top of the mulch. I think I will have to lay a bed of sand for the stones(am I right?) and get them nice and level. My question is, will the mulch be enough support around the stones to keep them from moving around? And also, how deep of a bed of sand do I need to lay them in? How much of the stone should be sticking up above the sand surface? Do I just leave gaps between the stone then work the mulch betwen the gaps? Help please!!

This is my first stone project & I don't know much about it.

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When you say fieldstone, do you mean rounded stones? Anything but flat stones can be very difficult, but not impossible, to make a path or patio out of.

Yes, you should dig out the entire area where you plan to lay the stone, at least 6" or more since you'll be putting down a layer of sand a couple inches deep OVER a layer of gravel which will be for drainage. Taking in consideration how thick your stones are, too. Lay the stones so that they are level with the top of the trench. The sand will help you position them, you'll be able to turn them this way and that until they fit like a jigsaw puzzle to their neighbors. The stones on the outer edges should have their straightest sides turned outward, that's the way I've always done it. And it helps to use a heavy mallet or the handle of a tool to butt the stones up against one another for the tightest fit possible.

Once you have all the stone put down, normally I will take a bucket of sand and throw it across the whole area and sweep it into any cracks. Then spray with water to dampen and force the sand down further. If necessary, put more sand down and sweep the excess away.

But, you want mulch between the stones instead of sand? I suppose you could do the same thing with the mulch. Spread it ontop of the stones you've laid in, and sweep into the crevices. Laying stones on top of mulch without digging the area out seems to me would not make the stones stable enough for walking upon. Mulch disappears eventually, so you'd be left with stones on top of dry ground?

Maybe someone else here has had experience with that technique.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 8:54PM
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jugglerguy(z4-5 MI)

If you're going to do round type fieldstones, I've posted my path here a few times in the past. You could search for some of my old posts by my username. I'll leave a link to some pictures you can look at too. Look at the ones called "Stone Path Construction" and "West Side Yard".

I don't think mulch will look right between the stones. I use chopped up leaves for mulch, but only on either side of the path. Between the stones, I use moss in the shade and elfin thyme in the sun. The thyme is really filling in this year after about three years. I might even have to trim some off the tops of the stones. I'd post a picture, but it's dark out right now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Pictures

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 9:53PM
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Okay, well, I guess the stone is flagstone then, as it is flat & thin. This will mak it easier to lay the walk right?
Jugglerguy, thanks so much for the pictures. They are very helpful.
Schoolhouse, it was my concern too that the mulch would go away after awhile. I don't have a problem with sweeping more into the cracks, but really didn't want to pick the stones up & re-lay them. So I guess I will be doing some digging this week!
The reason I want to use the mulch is because they are going to run straight through a perennial bed & I want the path to be very casual, as if the stones just happened to be there. I'll try it & if I don't like it, I can change it.
Thanks for the help everyone!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 11:00PM
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In a natural path of stone say in the woods or on a trail, you would see the stones at least half buried in the earth, right? If that's the effect you want, I'm wondering if you could simply excavate for each stone. Dig a shallow hole, place the stone in it, repeat until you have the length and width of your path (placing the stones more at random), then cover everything with mulch allowing the top of the stones to show through. Now there's an instance where rounded stones WOULD work. But your flat ones might,too.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 11:32PM
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Hmmmm, now there's some more food for thought. That is a possibility. I guess I'll just have to try it out & see what works the best in this situation.I just wanted to make sure that I installed them in a way that did not lead to me having to redo it in a couple of years. But it sounds like there are several ways it can be done. And I guess no matter how I do it, the stone path police aren't going to come in and arrest me :).

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 12:43AM
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I just wanted to add a note of caution for others: If you are building a path with a rounder fieldstones rather than flagstones, be careful. We built a stone path to our front door that looked nice, but was an ankle-twisting waiting to happen. It was not easy to walk on once we finished. We had some mid-sized stones we collected that we thought were flat enough on one side to use. If it were a path that was not for actual use, it would be ok, but ours turned out to be a bad idea. If I can find a photo (we don't live in that house anymore) I'll post it.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 8:46PM
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