Building a Stone Path

Building a Stone Path

Building a stone path provides practical and convenient access to your yard. Although building a stone path is a labor intensive process, the end result provides not only ease of access to your yard but a unique feature to enjoy the pleasantries your property has to offer. The building process is fairly straightforward and what may seem like a job for a professional landscaping company can be done under one’s own will if the right materials are purchased. To begin with, the foundation of the path will be constructed using an easy to assemble system of interlocking modular stone blocks. These will structure the pathway and are available in two thicknesses, 6-in and 3-in thick blocks which come in a variety of widths. Furthermore, manufacturers style these in “split-face” or “weathered” options which are available in several colors from various home center and landscaping supply dealers. Lastly, constructing a stone pathway requires the right tools for the job. One will need a plate compactor, a cutoff saw with a diamond blade, and a hand tamper.

Planning

After choosing a location for the path it is crucial to layout the approximate position of the pathway. This can first be done with a garden hose to decide on a design before creating a master sketch and marking the outline. Keep in mind that the pathway should be roughly the width of two people walking side-by-side. After deciding on a suitable width and marking the outline with spray paint it is important to measure the high and low points of the path to determine the slope. This can be done by stretching a level string from high to low, being sure to measure the height difference. After creating a suitable design and marking the outline, one must quantify the materials needed for the job. This requires some abstraction so it would be appropriate to take your sketch to a stone or landscape supply dealer. The dealer can estimate the materials including how much sand and gravel is required for a level base.

Saw Tips

The cutoff saw will be the primary tool for constructing the stone block pathway. The saw comes in a 12-in or 14-in diamond tipped blade. The blade produces an enormous amount of dust so cutoff saws can be rented with the option of a water spray system to reduce the expulsion of dust. The saw comes in both gas and electric models. When cutting a block, fully support it on a soft surface such as the ground or a sheet of plywood. In keeping the blade vertical the weight of the saw will be enough to cut through the block while bracing one’s arm against their leg to ensure a stable cutting platform. Ear protection, goggles, and a dust mask are essential for its safe operation.

Excavating

Excavating the path requires that one dig out the area in the ballpark of 9-in below the anticipated path height. To ensure your future enjoyment it is essential that a level base for the path is set. Woven fabric will be lay down to stabilize the 3-in of gravel placed on top which acts as the path’s base. Each layer of gravel will be tamped using the plate compactor. The second layer of gravel should be leveled before compacting. The gravel will then be sloped to the low side, about ¾ in to allow for drainage. An even sand bed is required to lay the pavers. Purchasing a pair of 10ft long 1-in steel pipes will allow one to lay an even sand bed. The sand should then be raked in a fashion that maintains a consistent slope. Next comes laying the pavers. The pavers are cut at the beginning and occasionally later on so to stagger the paver joints from one row to the next. The open sides of the path will allow you to lay those pavers without needing to cut them. Upon setting the pavers one can snuggly fit them together before moving on to place the plastic edgings against them and nailing the edging into the gravel. Lastly, sweep sand into the paver joints and go over them with the plate compactor.