How To Build a Flagstone Walkway
Stronger and more attractive than concrete, a flagstone walkway is a beautiful and durable addition to any garden. It is resistant to weeds and can last many years without much maintenance. Installing a flagstone path is quite challenging, however, but if you feel comfortable doing it yourself and have the required tools and materials available, this article will give you some basic instructions.
Step 1 - Preparing the Walkway Location
To begin, you should make an outline of where the path is going to go. You could use rubber tubing or a hosepipe to do this. When you have an accurate idea of where you are going to install the flagstone walkway, lay out the tubing or hose in the shape/pathway you want the walkway to be.
Once in place, begin digging out of the area to about a 3" depth using a shovel (flat-blade) to dig out the soil and loppers to cut through any roots. You may want to modify this depth depending on the thickness of the flagstone pavers. Before continuing, install any permanent border material, if you have chosen to have one, such as steel lining running along the inside edge of both sides of the walkway. If you decide to install an edging of lining, use steel spikes placed along the material to hold it in place. A permanent border is not a requirement, it just adds a level of stability to the walkway and installing it is entirely a matter of personal preference.
Use a rake to spread and smooth out the layer of soil throughout the walkway removing any pieces of cut root, rocks, or other debris. It is important that the walkway surface is as even as possible. To ensure this is the case use a level in each area. Once the walkway is cleared and prepped, install a layer of fabric lining along the length of the walkway and then fill the entire path with sand or another type of material such as small pebbles or pea stones.
The sand, or an alternative material, will act as the base foundation. Fill the walkway with sand to a depth of about 1" and spread it out evenly. Once the sand is in place, it should be raked until thoroughly smooth then checked to make sure the walkway is level. Before continuing, lightly wet the sand using the garden hose until it is all moistened.
Step 2 - Setting the Flagstones in Place
When purchasing the flagstones, be sure there are no cracks, imperfections, or unevenness of the paver. Each should be in the best condition so it will fit snugly into the foundation without leaving any space between the sand and the paver that could lead to the stone being wobbly, which could lead to breakage. You may consider sealing your flagstone pavers, but this is optional.
Begin carefully arranging the flagstones along the walkway. Place the flagstones gently into the sand with the best side facing up and use the rubber mallet to tap it a couple of times. Do not push them too far into the sand at this point. Start at the edges of the path first, working in towards the center. You should begin by using the larger pieces of flagstone, using the smaller pieces to fill any gaps. Place the stones with spacing between each stone that is equal to the stride of an average person. People tend to step from stone to stone so you don't want them too close together or too far apart. As you are installing the flagstone paving, continue to make sure that everything is level. Use the level regularly.
You may need to break up some of the larger pieces of stone so that they fit. To do this, use a hammer and chisel to etch a line along the area you want cut. Go over the line again using the hammer and chisel and using a little more force, the stone should fracture along the line.
Step 3 - Finishing Up
The finishing touches are easy to apply. Simply spread more sand over the paving. You will need to have plenty of sand left for this, as the stand will need to fill the cracks between the stones. When you have done this, sweep any excess sand off the stones so that it falls into the gaps. Once again, hose off the area to moisten the sand and give a more thorough clean to the stones. If necessary, add additional sand between any cracks so the sand is evenly dispersed along the entire walkway.