Laying A Natural Stepping Stone Pathway

This spring on one corner of my house I installed a shade garden. I removed the old $30 builder special privet bush and put an oak leaf hydrangea in its place. I added astilbe, ferns, hostas, heucheras, and heucherellas. We traded at a plant swap for some variegated Soloman's seal and added annuals like caladiums, coleus, and impatiens. What I didn't have at the time was a pathway to the gas meter. Laying out the pathway for the meter person was important since I didn't want someone to accidentally step on a prized plant. Aren't they all? Of course since installing the garden the bunnies have done some damage, but that's another story.

During our last visit to my wife's parents house we picked up some stones. Some were small and some large but many of them were flat. While every stone has its quirks and irregularities they were level enough to use in my rustic stepping stone pathway. The key with making the pathway was to make it as level as possible.

I began by laying out the stones in a logical arrangement that looked good and was functional. I had my daughter help me with this, as the official stepping stone tester. She loved going back and forth on the stones. After determining the right arrangement I removed the stones and laid them in the same arrangement on the grass temporarily. I used a garden rake to level the area then I went back smoothed out some clumpy spots with a shovel.

Then I laid down a thick layer of newspaper under the spots where the stones would go. Landscape fabric works well under stones but since I didn't have any on hand thick layers of newspapers would suffice. Next I put the stones down on the newspaper and put mulch all over and around them. I even put mulch underneath the stones to help level them up. I cleared the mulch from the stones and worked it into the cracks while I checked the stones for stability. Any stone that moved or wiggled was shored up with a little mulch underneath.

I'm planning on adding a couple more flat stones in the future when i find some that are suitable. My total cost for the pathway was probably around $2. I used half a bag of pine bark mulch, natural sandstone and limestone stepping stones which were free, and newspaper from our newspaper collection. Gardening cheap is gardening good!

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