Using Flagstones for Pathways

“Flagstone” is a term that describes a type of sedimentary rock that is often used in landscaping. Sedimentary rock is formed over millions of years as layers of mineral, clay, and other materials are deposited on the floor of the ocean and other bodies of water. The pressure from the water cements the layers together. There are now many areas throughout the US where sedimentary rock deposits from which flagstone is attained.

Some flagstone is lightweight and porous, while others are much denser and harder. The lightweight varieties absorb more water, similar to a sponge. This helps to greatly decrease the amount of runoff on your lawn, and makes them less slippery. These types of flagstone are more likely to chip during freeze/thaw periods, but luckily we don’t have to worry much about that here in South Florida. Less-porous varieties are less prone to chipping, but often get more slippery when wet since they do not absorb as much water.

Why Flagstones Make Good Paths

Flagstone is an excellent choice for a garden path. Their gritty texture gives them a non-slip surface, so you don’t need to worry when strolling through your garden after one of our afternoon showers. The rocks themselves are porous, and allow some water to pass through them; this way, you will have less runoff from the stones flooding another part of your garden. Flagstone comes in a wide range of gorgeous colors and shapes, so you can find the perfect shade to fit your home or landscape.

Quick How-to for Building Paths

Before you begin building a flagstone path, you first have a few design choices to make. Paths of this nature can be constructed in a variety of styles. Irregular flagstones spaced out with grass growing between them gives a casual, natural feel for a meandering path through your garden. Stones laid together over sand or small gravel give a landscape a more zen-garden feel. For a more formal design, square and rectangular flagstones can be laid closely together in a straight path and cemented together with mortar. Once you know how you want your path to look, you can begin construction.

  1. Define the area. You can use stakes and string, spray paint, or edging to indicate where the edges of the path will be.
  2. Dig out the area. The trench doesn’t need to be deep–only about 3-4”, which will allow plenty of room for the rocks and the underlying sand layer upon which the rocks will sit.
  3. Add enough sand into the trench so that it will be able to hold the rocks in place, then begin laying the flagstones in the design that you have chosen. Tamp down the stones with a rubber mallet so that the sand underneath won’t shift. You want the sand and the top of the stones to be just about the same height.
  4. Carefully go over the entire area and check each stone to make sure they are even. Tamp or lift stones to adjust them as necessary.
  5. Fill in the gaps however you like–dirt and grass, gravel, or mortar if the stones are laid tightly together.

Big Earth Landscape Supply has a wide variety of flagstones, as well as other decorative stones, boulders and gravels for every type of landscaping project. Come visit us at one of our 4 area locations to see for yourself.