Laying a Flagstone Walkway

courtesy of Lowes.com


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Flagstone is an excellent choice for walkways because of its durability and maintenance-free characteristics. A flagstone walkway blends well with almost any type outdoor decor, from formal to rustic. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Tools:

Round point shovel
Garden spade
Metal rake
Carpenter's level
Tape measure
Rubber mallet
Broom
Hose with spray nozzle
String
Work gloves
Tamper
Baby sledgehammer
Chisel
Line level

Materials:

Flagstones
Fine gravel
Edging
Sand
Water
Board to level sand (one 2x4)

Planning the Flagstone Pathway

Curves and flagstones of irregular shapes create a less formal look and feel, while a straight walk with squared corners and more regularly shaped flagstones suggest formality. Here are two options when laying out a pathway:

  1. For straight walk: Lay out the perimeter of the planned pathway and drive a wooden stake into the ground at each corner.

  2. For curved path: Use a pair of garden hoses to lay out a curved pathway. Adjust the bends and curves in the hoses to achieve a satisfactory design before staking out and digging the pathway.

Laying the Walkway

  1. On each stake, measure and mark a point 1/4" or so above the ground. This will be the ultimate height of the finished path. Tie a string between the stakes at the 1/4" mark, using a line level to keep the string level.

  2. To allow for water run-off, one end of your walkway will need to be 1/4" higher and slope away from the house. Raise the end of the string nearest the house to establish the correct slope ratio for the length of the pathway (1/4" to every foot of path).

  3. Adjust the line level of the string on the opposite uphill or downhill stake to ensure that both sides of the path are parallel.

  4. Do a rough layout with flagstones alongside the staked-out pathway.

  5. Install the edging.

Preparing the Foundation

  1. Dig up about 2 1/2" of the sod between the strings. If you choose to use the sod later, set it aside in a cool place and water.

  2. Dig up the soil so you have a constant depth of 2 1/2" from the base of your foundation to the string. Once it's dug, tamp it flat.

  3. Check again for the slope.

  4. Spread about 1 1/2" of sand over the freshly dug area. Distribute it evenly.

  5. To level the sand, take a 2x4 and smooth (screed) the surface with the edge. Tamp the sand over the entire foundation surface. Make sure you keep the necessary slope.

Laying the Flagstones

Although flagstones have rough, irregular surfaces, lay the pathway as evenly as possible to avoid trips and falls.

  1. Place the flagstones on top of the compacted sand.

  2. Adjust the height of each flagstone as necessary by adding or removing sand.

  3. To seat the flagstones, lay a straight 2x4 across them and tap along the board with a rubber mallet.

  4. After seating the flagstones, move the 2x4 across the surface of the flagstones to check for any unevenness.

  5. Gaps between the larger pieces of flagstones can be filled in with smaller, cut pieces.

Cutting and Shaping Flagstones

Cutting may be required to fit the curve of the walkway:

  1. Draw a cut line on the stone with a pencil.

  2. Tap the chisel along the cut line with a baby sledgehammer, making a series of cuts.

  3. Prop the flagstone so the cut line hangs over the edge of a piece of scrap 2x4 and position the chisel in the middle of the cut line.

  4. Strike the chisel sharply with the sledgehammer, breaking the flagstone along the groove.

  5. To shape the edges of a flagstone to fit into a gap, place the stone to be cut on top of the stones against which it will fit. Visualize the edges of the stones below and draw these shapes on the stone to be cut.

  6. Use the full blade of the chisel to chip away the edges of the stone to just inside the cut line, allowing for a gap between the stones.

Before You Take a Walk

  1. Sprinkle a layer of sand over the entire pathway and sweep it into the gaps between the flagstones.

  2. Dampen the pathway with a light misting from a garden hose. Repeat the above process until all gaps are filled.

  3. The edges of the walkway can be finished with strips of sod tucked in and around the flagstones or by adding mulch.

These How-To's are provided as a service from Lowe's, the Original Home Improvement Warehouse of How-To Information for the World Wide Web. The information in Lowe's "How-To" clinics is intended to simplify jobs around the house. Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow applicable codes and regulations, and is urged to consult with a professional if in doubt about any procedures.

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