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Gray flagstone through gravel and a yard full of flowers and shrubs

How to Build a Flagstone Path While Stuck at Home

So, you have exhausted your resources on how to keep busy. Your kitchens have been deep cleaned, living rooms have gone through multiple rearrangements, finally cleaned out that closet that no one really wanted to talk about, and got through your second (or third) rewatch of Friends. You have even had some fun in the backyard. What now? How about something that will last past quarantine? How about a flagstone pathway? 

A flagstone pathway is something you can easily make yourself to filling some of that quarantine void. They’re a great way to liven up your yard and create something you can be proud of. There is also the added benefit of making your neighbors and Instagram followers jealous.  

What is flagstone?

Let’s talk about flagstone. What is it? Flagstone is flat slabs of rock. Often made from sedimentary rock that has been split into layers. There are many different types. Some include:
Sandstone: Sandstone comes in multiple beautiful colors. If you are looking for a more earthy look, this may be the choice for you. Sandstone does well in warmer weather because it tends to stay cooler than other stone. Colder areas are not going to be the right fit for sandstone due to how porous it is. If it freezes it can cause cracks.  
Basalt: While basalt may be more limited in color, typically beige or black, it’s a great choice if you want a darker color. If you are looking for a more modern look, basalt would be a wonderful choice. Another great aspect is that it can absorb sound. Fewer noise complaints from Carole next door…
Bluestone: Bluestone’s non-slip textured surface is great for high traffic areas, especially when you live in a wet area. They have a much flatter and rough texture as well as being dense. A great choice for harsher weather. Bluestone comes in more than just blue. Greens and browns are also common.  

There are more options for flagstone, each one fulfilling a particular need. If you want to take a look at some more options and details on them, Home Stratosphere has a great breakdown. I would suggest taking a look at your local rockery. The biggest advice I can give is to think about where you are. Think about what style of stone will work best for you. Think about the weather, how the path will be used, even your house. Will it match, or will it stick out like a sore thumb? 

Red boot pushing down a shovel in dirt

What do you need?

Now you know what your style options are, it’s time to gather your materials. Since building a flagstone path is easier than other hardscape projects, the materials you will need are not too crazy.

Tools:

  1. Tamper
  2. Wide Broom
  3. Landscaping Fabric
  4. Something to mark the path (string, spray paint, garden hose)
  5. Scissors
  6. Shovel

Materials:

  1. Flagstone of your choice
  2. Compactible gravel (for example ⅝ crushed) 
  3. Whatever you want to fill the in-between with. (Sand, pebbles, etc.)

Think before you start

First things first. Where do you want to place this path? Think about the amount of traffic this area is going to get. Are people going to use this every day, or just sometimes? I suggest you take a walk in different parts of your yard. You may think you know where you want to put the path but end up finding that that spot really won’t work.

Think about the weather. If you are in a wet and cold area, you are going to want a dense stone that is not porous. Porous stone will absorb water and when it freezes you have the potential of cracks. Sandstone and limestone are going to work better in warmer weather while denser stone like granite and bluestone will hold up in the harsher weather.

Style. If you are looking for a more contemporary look, sharp clean lines will achieve that aesthetic. More traditional looks will include brick, ashlar and a great place to use the darker basalt. Trying to gain that rustic look? You will want something that irregular. This gives a more country vibe.

What is the function of the pathway? In a high traffic area you are going to want a thicker, smoother, and even cut with tight joints. You will also want to avoid polished stone. The last thing you want is someone to slip. If it is not a high traffic area, then your possibilities are endless.

How Much Do You Need?

There are many square foot calculators out there. But really, all you need to do is simply measure the length of the path and multiply by the width. This tells you how much compactible gravel and stone you will need. You will probably want 10-15% more product in case you need more.

Putting white flagstone together

Time to Build

Now that you have gathered your materials and tools, and you know exactly what and where you want your path, it is time to start building!

  1. Clear the area. Take out any leaves, dirt, and rocks.
  2. Plan your path. You can use spray paint, stake, or even use a garden hose. Again, think about where you are putting the path and how it is going to be used.
  3. Dig it up! Start shoveling. Dig up all the sod or dirt. There are many opinions on how deep you should dig, I suggest you do some research to figure out what will work best for your project. Shoveling can be hard work! Make sure you are shoveling properly.
  4. Lay down your landscaping fabric. This will help keep weeds out. Stake the fabric along the path and cut the extra fabric.
  5. Add the compatible gravel or sand. ⅝ crushed gravel will work well. Make sure you even it out so when you lay your flagstone it is even through the whole path. A simple way to do this is to use a 2X4 and drag it along the path to smooth and level.
  6. Puzzle time! Place your stone in the pattern you want. This may take a few tries, but make sure it is exactly how you want it. Take your time.
    Once you are happy with the placement, use your body weight, or a mallet, to push the stone down. This helps the stone stay in place.
  7. Time to spread the material of your choice to fill the in-between sections. Sand and pebbles are common, but you can use any material as long as it fits. Use the wide broom to sweep the material into the cracks. You can use water during this process to compact it even more.

That’s it! You did it! You created a beautiful new path in your yard. Every time you see that path, you will know you created it. Something to be proud of. Something to show off, once you can have visitors again. In the meantime, show your skills off on Instagram and Facebook. Now it’s on to finding your next project.

Want to expand on your beautiful path? Tranblue can help create your vision. Contact us to help create a beautiful yard all your own.

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