Stepping stones?

Peter_and_Malin(Sweden zone 1)April 20, 2005


Yesterday we made our very first "flowerbed"... with a japanese lantern (made by a friend of us), some plants like pieris, rhododendhron and other shrubs.

Now we want to add some stepping stones thatin a curved path lead up to the maple and the lantern in the middle.

The length from point A to point B is about 1.5 meter. but we want a curved path. We also plan to add some flat stones under the lantern and raise it up a bit.

Anyway, what KIND of stones should be used to stepping stones. On many pics in our jap-garden books they use something that looks like lime stone or darker stones. Should the stepping stones have a soft surface, or an edgy surface?

any input is appreciated.


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I like what the Japanese call a Nobedan path. From what I've read, one of the main characteristics of a Nobedan path is that the intersections separating the stones don't form a 'crossroads' (as in the letter 'X') but form a 3-line junction (as in the letter 'Y'). Another desirable feature seems to be that the edges of the path should form a straight line or perhaps a smooth curve. I'm posting a picture showing some examples of Nobedan paths - and two examples of what I think are less attractive paths in a western garden.

Click to see

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 11:44AM
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ckramos(Mill Creek, WA)

(1) if you want one shoe per stone, then the distance from stone to stone is based upon the gait of your walk. This would of course look like stones on a stream bed. Where there would be gaps between the stones.

(2) if you want two shoes per stone, then you would it have to be long enough to cover a single walking step. The gaps in between would almost have to be an inch or less.

option (1) would be the best if you're trying to make a curved path.

You didn't ask what to put between the stones. Put either moss or a darker gravel in between or both.

edgy or soft/dark light...go the rock store and FEEL for yourself. If it looks good and feels good, and also feels good on your wallet, then go for it!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 1:06PM
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winter_rose(NE Vic Aus z5)

We are today working with a square area that is the landing area between two levels. We wanted to incorporate a grinding stone. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 8:46PM
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Kosplath(z7 TX)

Hi there, stumbled across this forum..

How would you go about putting moss inbetween stones? I've wanted to do this but sort of settled for the weeds instead.

I've seen moss sold at garden shops in little containers, but they seem too wide for the tiny crevices.

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2005 at 11:40PM
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winter_rose(NE Vic Aus z5)

I am not sure, maybe you could cut it?

We have a design in place and on the weekend will put it down properly and place a little mondo grass and ajuga in between bits and pieces.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2005 at 10:44PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

I would be real careful with moss on any stones that will be walked on. It can be very slippery under your shoes. It also will rip loose easily, causing you to slide on the rocks. Moss is great on stones that will be looked at, but not good on any kind of a path or stepping stone.

If you want spaced, single stepping stones, rake some dirt or the driveway smooth, then walk the length a few times to relax stepping. Also any other people who will be walking on the stepping stones should stride on the dirt. Measure stride lengths. Tall person has wide steps, while short folks have close steps. Single stone path doesn't always work well for the 'other' person. I have modified our paths twice now. First too close of steps good for small child, then too far apart when son laid down the stones! Nice big surface stones are also much easier to walk on.
I would use a close together, staggered stone, maybe 2-3 stones wide for use by several different strided folks, adults and children, tall and short people. Then they don't have to be as careful to exactly step on each stone. Just much easier to walk on and use. Don't be relaying stone like us!
Those stone path pictures are lovely, probably the easiest walkway for many different people to use. Lots of work, beautiful creations though!

Some recipes for growing moss on rocks included getting a few good pieces of rock moss, then putting it in the blender with yogurt or buttermilk, and blending it into a mix. Moss will only be green spots, no lumps. Should be smooth, not real thick. Almost like a drink of milk, not a milkshake or malt. You then paint the mix on rock surfaces, keep surface just damp with a water mister until the moss starts to regrow. Probably a couple squirts a day, maybe cover rock with a damp cloth part of the time or nights. Hose spray is too much water, washes rock clean. Sometimes have to reapply the mix a couple times. Moss does need moisture, so you plan for rocks that will be moist, probably shady also, to keep moss growing over time. Some folks have used drip irrigation very successfully on their rocks with moss. Kind of an experiment thing, have to find what works in your garden spot.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 11:58AM
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Kosplath(z7 TX)

Those are great ideas.
I had no idea blending moss in a blender would work.

I'll try to attempt them this weekend.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 12:40AM
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For stepping stones, I use a dense limestone that has been exposed to sunlight for about 20 years. This is plentyful in my area and give a garden a mature feel. I place it off an axis of the desired path, crossing back and forth as I am inspired in line groups of 2 and 3, mixing sizes as well. This means a set of 2 rocks may run pointing slight right of course, then 3 will run more or less on course, then 2 more may run left of course. Place an oversized stone occasionally for a resting place or viewing point.

I have a plastic wading pool in a shady corner of the woods behind my house. I have been able to purchase granite and other features 6 to 12 months early, then submerge them in the pool until they are growing algae. This seems to be a great conditioning for growing moss. Then I pour sprite over the stone and spray the buttermilk/moss shake over it. Depending on the garden conditions, they may grow moss or not - but they still look better than new quarried stone!

Stones with small crevases can be filled with fine gravel and loam and moss inserted into the remaining cavity. The trick is to provide a sub-surface source of moisture the moss can wick up as needed.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 2:11PM
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