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How to Install Stepping Stones

May 4, 2023

Stepping stones offer an affordable, attractive way to protect your lawn while also creating a functional walkway. Easier to install than paving stones and perfect for DIYers, stepping stone pathways can be used to create a walkway to the front door, a foot path around the house or even a path down to the pool. There are many different types of stepping stones out there, but no matter which size or material you choose, the basic installation steps simple enough that this project can easily be handled by the average homeowner, but hiring a contractor is always a good idea.

Choose Your Stepping Stones

Before you begin, you need to decide which type of stepping stones you want to use for your project. Flagstone, fieldstone, slate, concrete and log steppers are the most common types of stepping stones available. The size, shape and type of stone you choose will depend on your desired look and function.

Install the Stepping Stones

Once you've chosen your stepping stones and you know where they're going to go, you're ready to get started on the installation. No matter which type of stepping stones you chose, the basic installation steps are the same.

Step 1.) Plan out your pathway. You can do this by temporarily laying out your stepping stones and marking the outline of each one with spray paint or lawn chalk. Move the stones around as much as needed to get the pathway just right. You can have a lot of space between each stone or very little.

Bonus Tip: If you plan on having a significant gap between stones, measure the distance of your pathway and the width of each stepping stone. Use that information to calculate out the right spacing to save time planning the pathway.

Step 2.) Excavate the marked area beneath each stone. If you chose a pattern that has your stones placed very close to one another, you can save time by simply excavating the entire area versus only the area below each stone. You'll want to go down 3 to 4 inches below grade.

Step 3.) Add a thin layer of gravel. Typically, it is recommended to add 2 inches of gravel to ensure proper drainage and to prevent your stepping stones from settling and potentially shifting over time. You can use a hand tamp to compact the gravel.

Bonus Tip: Add a weed barrier before the gravel to prevent grass or other weeds from growing up and around your stepping stones. This is especially important for more complex installations.

Step 4.) Add a thin layer of leveling sand on top of the gravel. You only need about 1/4-inch of leveling sand on top of the gravel. This will make it easier to level your stepping stones once they're in place.

Step 5.) Place each stepping stone on top of the sand and check the placement. This is the part where you start to see the project come together. Recreate the placement you came up with in step 1 and watch as your stone pathway starts to take shape.

Step 6.) Backfill around the stepping stones as needed. Using dirt that you removed during the excavation step, backfill around the stepping stones as needed until they're flush with the surrounding grade. If you're making a pathway in a lawn, now is a great time to add grass seed.