Installing a Stone Path in Your Yard

What You'll Need
Natural stone
Two wheelbarrows
Garden hose
Bright spray paint
Protective gear such as a supportive back brace, goggles, knee pads
Shovel and spade
Surface compacting tool
Carpenters level

Installing a stone path can add greatly to not only the aesthetic visual appearance of your property, but enhance it's value as well. Although commonly considered a simple project, using stone may require a good deal of lifting so you might want to get a helper for the project. Also, allow at least one day of labor for every 10 to 12 feet of path you plan to install. This time requirement might be shorter if the project is tackled by a group of people.

1. Choose a Design
Decide the length, width and shape you want your stone path to have. Keep in mind that a minimum width of three feet is normal to allow two people to walk side-by-side. However, there are no maximums. 

2. Physical Layout

Using either bright spray paint, or stakes and string to physically lay out your chosen shape including the width and length. Use garden hoses to layout a winding-like shape from one end to the other. Use a hose for both sides of the path, then follow its trail with spray paint to duplicate the shape. Once you are finished with the layout, you can remove the hoses.

3. Examine the Path

Before you set your path in stone, examine the entire layout. Take note that the path fits into the overall surrounding landscape and curves as necessary around statues, fountains, flower beds and other yard features.

4. Dig It
Remove all sod and soil creating at least a five inch deep trough. Make the base of this area as smooth as possible, tapping the earth down to make it as firm as possible.

5. Prevent Weeds
Place a layer of landscape fabric upon the tapped down surface to prevent any weeds from sprouting up later. Then layer two inches of sand on top of the fabric and tap this down firmly. Be careful not to rip the fabric, however, because it can be thin and fragile.

6. Lay Down Large Rocks
Start laying down rocks using the largest ones first. Attempt to keep the space between rocks to a minimum by choosing shapes that cover more area first. Work through the center of the path toward the borders. Place the rocks so they can be adjusted later when you will measure normal walking strides.

7. Plug the Gaps
Use smaller rocks to plug any gaps between the larger ones. Again, keep the gaps as small as you can. Check the surface level with your carpenter’s leve to adjust rock placement and gain a smooth surface. You may have to tap rocks down further into the sand base, or, add more sand underneath. Brush or sweep away any excessive sand.