How to Install Stepping Stones
Laying stepping stones is an inexpensive and easy way to create a path in your garden. Whether it's straight or meandering, a path helps define the different sections of your garden while introducing some hardscape to contrast with the greenery. In the lawn, the stones handle foot traffic, sparing the grass from the wear. Follow these steps, and you will have a path before the weekend is out.
Step 1 – Choose a Location and Design
The design of your path depends on the style you have chosen for your garden. For a modern, geometrically perfect garden a straight path is best. To ensure that the stepping stones are set in a straight line, use wooden posts and string along the length of the intended route of the path.
For a country cottage garden, a windy path is more characteristic. One advantage of the curvy option is that you don't have to lay it perfectly according to your pattern. Before you lay the stepping stones properly, place them gently in their intended position to check that the spacing and location you have chosen works. For a loose pattern, you could also lay out a garden hose or piece of rope to keep the design on track.
Step 2 – Choose the Stones
Concrete stepping stones are a cheap hard-wearing solution that will suit most gardens. While they are mass produced and look man-made at first, over time the concrete will weather and give a more natural look. They also come molded in patterns from river rocks to granite and everything in between.
If you have young children, consider making a couple of your own stepping stones, and decorating them with handprints or pretend jewels. Kits are available to do this, or you could make them yourself using a mold and a bag of ready-mixed concrete.
If you use your garden regularly in the evening, why not consider solar stepping stones? With solar powered LEDs inset into the stones, they will soak up the energy of the sun during the day and light your way safely down the path at night. A light sensor inset into the stone ensures that the lights are not on during the day. This option is not a cheap one, but not every stone needs to be lit up. Lighting every other stone will still let you find your way in the dark.
(For DIY solar path lighting, take a look at this.)
Step 3 – Dig Out the Holes
Most ready-made concrete stepping stones are 2 inches thick. Accordingly, the holes you dig for the stones should be that deep.
Step 4 – Install a Layer of Sand and Situate Stones
Place a ½-inch layer of sand in each hole, and spread it evenly. The sand provides a layer of material that will drain freely under the stones while allowing them to move about and settle after they have been trodden on a few times. You might have to add more sand from time to time. Put the stones in place and enjoy them!