A flagstone walkway is a great way to add charm to outdoor space while being very functional. It’s perfect for a garden path or to connect you to different spaces throughout your yard.
This article shows how to make a walkway in bare soil or grass.
When you want moss or grass in between the stones.
This guide does not utilize gravel or sand between stones, thus you will need to use alternative foundation materials.
This freestyle flagstone pathway has a more natural aesthetic.
With the correct weather and endurance, you can build a flagstone walk in a weekend.
It’s best to work on your path when it’s not too hot or sunny, and the ground is relatively soft but not wet.
Unfortunately, I had none of these ideal circumstances, so I devised a few hacks to get it done. I’ll show you what to do in ideal conditions and not-so-ideal conditions.
Things To Consider Before You Make A Flagstone Walkway
- Await soft ground. If it has rained lately, it will be soft but not muddy.
- Use two wheelbarrows or garden carts.If you don’t have two, keep an extra large plastic trash bag nearby to separate the dirt you may need to fill in spaces with the sod and weeds.
- Make sure your garden hose is long enough to reach the location you’re lying your flagstone stepping stones.
- Site-poured concrete stepping stones may be preferable if the terrain is too uneven to level.This DIY stepping stone project’s flagstone-like concrete was site-poured. I could handle uneven terrain.Site-poured concrete self-leveled.
It’s important to know that there are different methods for laying flagstones depending on the surface the stones will be on and your goals.
My garden path will not be much used.
That is important because it serves the primary function of keeping my feet dry while I inspect the gardens and stroll through to enjoy them.
Since it would be the primary roadway, you should consider other flagstone placement techniques if it will have considerable foot traffic.
FAQ For Making Flagstone Walkways
What’s the benefit of a flagstone path?
Flagstone and stepping stone walkways work well in wet locations.
The stones’ composition reduces soil erosion and water drainage during heavy rains.
Can you lay flagstone directly on the ground?
Yes, you can lay flagstones directly on the ground on top of the dirt. However, it’s best to set them in the soil, so they don’t move over time.
There may be some slight movement when there’s rain, but the materials that will fill the joints between the stones will help reduce erosion.
What do you put under a flagstone path?
Flagstones may go on soil, stone dust, or sand.
If filling joints with stones, use only sand or stone dust.
If you plan to use grass or moss, it’s best to avoid these and let dirt be the base material.
Where do you get flagstones?
Stone yards and nurseries sell them. Fieldstones may also replace flagstones.
My guide covers stepping stone walkway materials.
It goes into depth and will also help you decide whether to have these installed by a professional –Guide to Buy or DIY your stepping stones.
Flagstone costs $2.50–6.00 per sq/ft without labor.
What can you put in between flagstones?
In full sun, creeping phlox and creeping thyme are suitable groundcovers for stones or pavers.
Use pea gravel, polymeric sand, gravel, or marble chips.
These materials are also suitable for flagstone patio joints.
Why use flagstone over concrete pavers?
Concrete pavers are flat on the bottom, so they don’t lend themselves well to direct placement on the natural curves of dirt.
My DIY paver patio project required a paver foundation and ground leveling.
The uneven bottom surface helped me with the flagstone route.
It was easy to utilize the thicker ends of the flagstone to help level the ground where it dipped. This wouldn’t have been achievable with a flat paver.
Before building the walkway, decide what will cover the spaces between stones.
Avoid granite dust or sand paver bases for moss or vegetation.
These compounds will hinder moss and grass growth.
Materials For Making A Flagstone Walkway
- Bow rake
- Hand spade
- Work gloves or gardening gloves
- Nitrile gloves
- Garden cart and/or wheelbarrow
- Garden hose
- Shower, jet, and mist hosehead.
- Moss (preferably moved from nearby)
- Rubber mallet or hammer
- Safety goggles
You may shape your stones using the various materials.
Smaller parts may make huge portions simpler to handle. These shatter using a mallet and chisel.
I didn’t do any shaping as I was working with smaller pieces, but in Step 5, there’s a link to a YouTube video showing you how to shape them.
How To Make A Flagstone Walkway –Step by Step Tutorial
Step 1. Remove The Sod Layer
First, scoop the grass’s top layer. Lifting roots and weeds requires digging deep.
I recommend clearing an additional 6-8″ beyond the pathway area to help ensure weeds don’t creep into the path later.
Moss availability will affect this.
If you can afford moss, expand it beyond the route for a greater weed barrier.
Wheelbarrow or garden cart the grass sod.
Preserve as much dirt as possible to use as backfill in a second cart or wheelbarrow.
Step 2. Loosen The Soil and Lightly Level The Ground
Rock-hard clay soil. Fortunately, we are not in a drought.
Before starting, dampen dry, heavy-packed, or rocky earth like mine.
I strongly recommend doing this a few times and waiting until the following day so that you can flatten the site with more ease.
You don’t need it to be entirely level because, as a natural stone, they aren’t level.
Thus, some stones will be thick, some thin, and some both.
I had some pieces as thick as 4 ½” and some under ¾”. Of course, my stones were repurposed from the area where the gravel garden now is, so not all may have been flagstone.
Even real flagstones vary in thickness.
You may use the unevenness to your advantage by placing the thinner end where your ground is elevated and the broader end where it dips.
Remove rough patches and level any irritating slopes.
I first tried to deal with dry earth.
However, dampening it made all the difference in working with it.
Run the bow rake over the whole area if your soil is moist or soft.
Using a shovel, remove large chunks. Keep additional dirt.
If you have dry or heavy clay soil, take your garden hose, put it on the shower setting, and spray over the entire walkway area in sweeping motions.
You don’t want to create a mudslide, but you want to slowly let the water sink down because you need stable soil. The muddy mess above is way too wet.
And here is the right amount of moisture.
Depending on the dryness, you may need to make many runs along the dirt route.
I had to do this morning and evening, then again the next day before moving on.
Step 3. Create The Flagstone Walkway Layout
Making the flagstone path design is enjoyable.
Path form is the initial step. Consider if it will have straight or natural curves.
My yard is wild, so I wanted a more casual stone walkway.
The way to get this was to have it taper in spots and broader in others, along with bends and curves.
It’s a good idea to use a shovel and mark a line in the ground where you want the outer edges of the path to be.
Making a borderline will be helpful if you have enough stones. Otherwise, you’ll fall short of your borders.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough flagstones to get to where I wanted the path to end.
And it turned out I didn’t, so I had to rework the last section and part of an outside edge to get the look I wanted.
Start the layout from one outside border with your outside edges noted.
5 feet is plenty to deal with.
Next, look at the forms and decide how to aim the stones for the greatest fit to construct the route pattern.
Ideally, your goal is to get the pieces to fit like a jigsaw puzzle. The joints/gaps can be anywhere from 1″ -6″ and still look great.
If you can split bigger pieces, they will naturally fit perfectly.
The YouTube video on chiseling and hammering flagstones is here.
Fit flagstones as they are to avoid shattering them.
Moss and grass cover wider gaps and make the walkway more pleasant.
So if you can’t find the perfect fit, it’s okay. It’s not going to make the flagstone paany less attractive.
Before fastening the flagstones, take images.
You’ll replace and fit the components one by one, occasionally removing nearby ones.
So referencing a photo will help if you want to get it back to the same layout.
Flagstone Walkway Tips
- Allow portions to widen and narrow. Allow outer curves.It helps when you have a stone with a curved outside edge.
- It’s a good idea to mix larger stones with smaller stones when possible.
- Don’t place too many of the same shape and size next to each other.
- Mixing colors may improve a pattern.
- Check both sides since colors may vary.
- Take care when moving the large stones.I had two pieces I couldn’t lift by myself, and I found that lifting and rolling them on their sides was the easiest way to maneuver them without needing to pick them up.
- If you have uneven stones with sections of the face that protrude much higher, then make sure to place the protruding side facing down so that it doesn’t become a tripping hazard.
Step 4. Set The Flagstones In Place
Install flagstones after finalizing the plan. Hopefully, the soil is still soft and workable.
But if it has dried in the meantime, re-water it. And a reminder to not let the ground get so wet that the top layer becomes muddy.
* When setting stones, you may need to water beneath them again.
Only the very top 1/16″ layer of dirt was damp. Before I could set it in place, I needed to moisten the area that the stone had been covering.
I suggest plucking some stones and sprinkling the ground.
To remember the angle to put the stone back in, set it in the same position and direction as you remove it.
And also reference our photos if needed.
Set the first stone or wait 10–15 minutes for the water to infiltrate the upper layers.
When you go to the following ones, the earth should be better to deal with.
Shimmying stones into position is easier.
Here I’m shimmying the stone, but I took it before realizing I needed to dampen the ground thoroughly.
It takes talent to hold the phone in your mouth to take a photo Or laziness because I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of setting up my tripod.
The procedure went faster with enough ground moisture.
Recess thicker portions into the earth. Shovel two inches of soil.
If you need to dig deep, you’ll probably need to moisten the deeper soil layers again.
Use the hand spade to scrape high places by dragging it sideways. Shimmy the flagstone in.
I found certain stones difficult to insert. Others scored right away.
This is simpler with cooperating soil. Rocks may cause issues.
The flagstone will roll on any rock, even the smallest, making it rock.
Remove the rock(s) or cover it with earth.
Due of their unevenness, flagstones may need earth below.
And now the extra dirt comes into play. So grab handfuls of that and push under the gaps.
Step 5. Plant The Moss Pieces Between The Flagstones
This lesson covers planting moss between stones, although sod grass may be comparable.
For the moss, the ground should be slightly damp but not wet, like it was for you to set the stones.
She had moss I could save when gardening her yard.
Before adding moss, build up the flagstone sides.
Part of this is to help secure the stones so they don’t move as much over time.
The other reason is that it’s better if the moss isn’t super recessed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find good official information on this.
Still, my paver patio and the marble chips I used to cover the gap taught me that somewhat recessed is preferable than flush or overly recessed.
Because too much recess will trap trash. Moss, which requires air and light, will die.
If it’s flush, it’s okay, but it may be a little better for drainage if it’s just under the flagstone.
When deciding how much to recess the moss, you should consider your surrounding landscape.
For instance, my flagstone walkway area is next to a big wooded hill. There’s plenty of water runoff that will drain onto this location.
I risk mud on the stones and moss if I add enough soil to make them flush.
It’s really the bottom of the moss where it touches the soil to be aware of.
I added enough dirt to hold the stone, anywhere from ½ to a couple of inches.
However, not so high that the moss would exceed the stone.
I planted moss along the route to reduce soil erosion.
The photographs show mud hazards on the right side.
I’m in the process of getting more moss, which I should try to carry up to the grass/weed/flower line to prevent that.
Place handfuls or spadefuls of soil around and between stones. After adding dirt, push it.
So add extra knowing it will be rather crammed. Moss prefers solid soil.
Its pre-press appearance is seen above.
Press it in after adding the extra soil.
To plant the moss, ensure the ground is moist, but take care there isn’t any standing water.
Next, split moss pieces to fit the gaps and place them in the fissures so they touch the earth.
It won’t grow without hard soil pressure. Do this while putting the moss or afterwards.
I did it all towards the end because I could walk on it and use my hands for the rest.
Also, if you don’t have a lot of moss, you can leave spaces in between, and the moss will fill in.
Your moss must grow sideways.
Some mosses only grow upright and won’t fill in. So it’s good if you can identify your type and then look up to see if it’s a Pleurocarpous type (sideways growing).
PlantSnap helps me identify moss and other plants.
Mist the crushed moss.
It should be watered daily for about three weeks because that’s approximately how long until the rhizoids have (essentially rooted) into the ground.
You can test this by lightly tugging at it. If it doesn’t lift, then it has set.
You can find more details and a full tutorial on how to transplant moss to other areas of your yard to expand it (outside stepping stones).
These 21 rock landscaping ideas can complement your flagstone pathway.
Active Time 3 days
Total Time 3 days
- Remove The Sod Layer Using A Shovel
- Loosen the soil and lightly level the ground to remove bumps.
- Dry-fitting the flagstones creates the walkway layout.
- Set The Flagstones In Place To Secure Them
- Plant The Moss Pieces Between The Flagstones
Can I lay flagstone directly on grass?
Flagstones may go on soil, stone dust, or sand. If filling joints with stones, use only sand or stone dust. What’s this? Avoid grass and moss and use soil instead.
Can I lay flagstone directly in soil?
Use 1-1/2-inch-thick flagstones for patio flooring or stepping stones. Flagstones may be put directly in soil or sand. Thinner slabs should be set in wet mortar or concrete to avoid breaking when walked on.
What is the best base for flagstone walkway?
Sand is wonderful, but it might wash away and settle pavers and bricks unevenly. Sand over a 2-inch gravel foundation prevents rainwashout. To prevent gravel from combining with sand or soil, many people lay landscaping cloth beneath it.
How do you install flagstones on grass?
Flagstone pathway patio: Step-by-Step Guide
- Step 1: Gravel. If needed, prepare the ground.
- Step 2: Lay all flagstone pathway pieces. Place the flagstones.
- Step 3: Digging process.
- Step 4: Remove sod.
- Step 5: Excess dirt.
- Step 6: Use level. .
- Step 7: Replace. .
- Step 8: Readjust
Do you need to put sand under flagstone?
Dry-laid flagstone simply means that the flagstone pieces are placed on a bed of sand and gravel. It is recommended that a patio or walkway base be at least 3” deep, then filled with a layer of compacted gravel covered with coarse sand.
Does flagstone need to be cemented?
Setting flagstone doesn’t need cement or concrete. A sand and gravel basis creates a porous, ecologically friendly surface that lets rainfall soak into the ground instead of running off or flooding.