Placing stepping stones across a garden lawn is a great way to create easy access to sheds, flowerbeds and patio areas, with the minimum of disruption to the lawn itself.
From this short guide you will learn one of the most popular methods for building a decorative or functional path across an established lawn.
First, walk the route you want to use for your path and leave a marker at each step.
This gives you the number of stepping stones you will need for the project and it creates a guide for laying the paving stones later.
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Now you know how many paving stones you need, it’s time to visit your local DIY store or garden centre to choose some suitably coloured/shaped paving to suit your taste and garden.
You can choose from items advertised as paving stones or standard paving slabs. The choice is entirely yours and will depend upon the finish you want to acheive.
How to lay the stepping stones
To lay the stepping stones start by placing each one in the positions you have already marked out. Walk across them in case any need adjusting to suit your length of stride.
When you are happy with their position, cut around each one with a spade and remove the turf and soil to a depth of three times the thickness of each of the stepping stones/pavers you have chosen.
For example, if the paving stone is 1 1/2″ ( 38mm) thick, dig down to 4 1/2″ (114mm).
This next step is kind of an optional extra – at the base of each hole try to dig under the edges of the soil with a small trowel, to the depth of around three inches (75mm).
This will create a wider base for the stepping stone/paver and therefore reduce the chance of it wobbling when it’s stepped on.
If you don’t want to go that far, and I admit, it is a lot of extra work, ignore this step and move onto the next one.
Create a mortar mix for laying your stepping stones
To set the stones in place, use a mortar mix of three parts sand to one part cement.
(Here’s a guide on how to mix mortar or concrete by hand, if you don’t know.)
A bag of ready-mixed mortar will do the job just as well. All you have to do is add water.
When the stepping stone/paver is in place, you typically want the top of it to be flush with the lawn or surface around it, so when you’re adding the mortar, leave enough space at the top of each hole to create the finish you want.
Tap each stepping stone/paver down using a rubber mallet (ornamental paving can crack if hit too hard) until they’re level. Use a spirit level to check.
You may get a few gaps around the stepping stones/pavers, if you do, fill the space with some of the previously excavated soil.
Let them set in place for 24/48hrs and you will have a lovely new stepping stone path.
Tools required for creating a stepping stone path
- Sand/cement for mortar (or buy a bag of ready-mixed mortar)
- Spot board (for mixing mortar)
- Rubber mallet
- Spirit level
Check out this list of useful DIY tools.
Frequently asked questions
Technically, you could do that but in most cases it’s not advisable. Without the mortar base to hold the slabs in place and provide a strong foundation, they’ll eventually become loose and start to wobble when stood on. They may even start sinking if the ground gets too wet. This isn’t the kind of job you want to do twice, so it’s worth taking the extra step of providing a solid base for your slabs.
Stepping stones usually start at around £5 per piece and increase in price depending upon the decorative pattern and material used. Buying in bulk usually makes the price cheaper
This is all down to you, your personal taste and the size of your garden. Sometimes a straight path is best (for example, leading to a shed) and sometimes a curved or meandering path is best (for example, wandering around borders to enjoy the flowers).