Stone Garden Walkways

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Building these two garden walkways was fun, but were high-energy projects. I wanted to replace an overgrown path through a perennial sun garden, and I wanted to build it myself, with the end product looking like an English garden or cottage garden walkway.

Before taking on the bigger project that would require 14 stone pattern sections with 9 stones each frame, I did a trial run by building a 6-section walkway between 2 raised garden beds for my aunt. She wanted the finished stones to have terra cotta color to more closely match the large pots she has throughout her yard.

Step 1: Materials and Supplies

For the smaller Garden #1 for my aunt, I made 6 frame sections, each section having 9 stones. One 60 lb. bag of Quikrete was enough for almost 1-1/2 frame sections. I mixed the Quikrete by hand and added in the liquid cement terra cotta color. That was a lot of hard work on a hot day. Since I needed to make 14 sections for my much larger Garden #2, I borrowed a small cement mixer from a friend. Many local and big box hardware stores have concrete tool rentals.

Quikrete® Walk Maker (6921-32) - plastic frame for the stone sections, each section has 9 interconnecting, but not interlocking, stones of different sizes and shapes

QUIKRETE® Quick-Setting Cement, 60 lb. bags - sets in approximately 10–15 minutes. I used Quikrete, which is a blend of portland cement, sand, and gravel or stone. Just add water, mix, and and it's ready to use.

QUIKRETE® Liquid Cement Color - used in Garden #1

Garden landscape heavy-duty black plastic - used in Garden #1

Cement mixer - optional

Hand Tamper or Sledge Hammer

Soil compacter - optional; I hand-compacted the soil for the smaller Garden #1 with a sledge hammer and hand tamper, but used the soil compacter for Garden #2

Step 2: Garden #1, Before & After

Unfortunately, I didn't take any process photos for the stone work in Garden #1, but here are views of before and after.

To start, I removed all of the sod and weeds, and compacted the soil using a heavy mallet and hand tamper, making sure that the ground was level.

One 60 lb. bag of Quikrete was enough for almost 1-1/2 frame sections. I mixed the Quikrete by hand, one bag at a time, and added the liquid concrete color until we had the terra cotta color that we wanted. I packed each individual stone section as tightly as possible with the Quikrete, carefully checking to eliminate any gaps or spaces. I made 6 sections of stones, and turned the frame a half turn for each new section of stones so that the finished pattern would have a more random appearance.

After the stones hardened, I lifted them out, covered the ground with a layer of black landscape plastic to help control weeds growing between the stones, and then repositioned the stones.

My aunt and I were really happy with the finished walkway. Now having a bit of stone-building confidence and a couple days to rest, I was ready to take on the much larger 14-section path at home. Doing this smaller sidewalk by myself was fine, but for Garden #2, my husband helped make it happen.

Step 3: Garden #2 - "Before" Garden & Prepping the Path

What I started out with was an overgrown garden disaster, long overdue for a make-over. Before we could compact the soil, I removed the existing field stones and everything and anything that was growing in the pathway. Next, it was time for the soil compacter.

Step 4: Making It Happen!

Quikrete sets in 10-15 minutes, so we mixed one 60 lb. bag at a time; for this project, one bag filled the frame almost 1-1/2 times. Set the frame in place, tightly fill with Quikrete, wait 8-10 minutes before lifting the frame to make the next section. I wanted as random of a pattern as I could get. To do this, I rotated the frame a half turn for each new section of stones, built that section, and repeated the process for the entire garden path.

We live in the country and don't have municipal water, but have well water. In the center of the path in this garden is the well head that we camouflage with a sundial on a decorative pillar. Surrounding this pillar with stones was easy since the stones are not one large section, but all of the stones rest beside each other, similar to a jig-saw puzzle, except that the pieces don't connect. This makes it easy to rearrange the stones as needed, replace a broken stone, or use a stone as a base for a large flower pot. For us, it's important to be able to move the stones for occasional well maintenance, which we wouldn't have been able to do if we built a solid concrete walkway.

Step 5: Garden Happiness!

This garden is in full sun, so I planted small, low-growing plants called Steppables between some of the stones. I didn't put a layer of black landscape plastic or fabric under the stones and haven't had a problem controlling the few weeds or volunteers flowers that grow occasionally between the stones. This walkway can withstand all types of weather; I've never had a stone break for any reason.

We have the finished appearance of an English or country cottage garden that we wanted, and an added bonus for me was being able to build it!

Before and After Contest 2017

Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2017

Gardening Contest 2017

Participated in the
Gardening Contest 2017

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    7 Discussions

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    MattM370

    5 weeks ago

    built something similar from the same form pattern 5-10 years ago. stretched from one gate on the south, around the house to the north gate. a few thoughts:
    1) i saw a mention of being able to move the "stones". you can. i did. decided i wanted it wider, so took out part and widened the other part.
    2) i tried commercial concrete dye and didn't like it. mixing in or brushing it on. wasn't happy with either. found i could get free latex paint from the local hazmat disposal facility. made some very interesting colored "stones". some more natural than others. the mint green, not so much. just replace some of the water with water-based paint.
    3) borrowed a concrete mixer for the first phase, mixed the second in a poly "tray" with a hoe. seems like about the same amount of work. i'd do the tray before i'd borrow another mixer. just me.
    4) my path changes direction several times around a tree and a patio, so i learned that if you lift the form while the concrete is still pliable you can stamp it back in making odd shaped "stones" and allowing you to turn the corner.
    5) i laid the first batch on very irregular surfaces so some were thicker than others and uneven, which made re-laying them more difficult. laid the last batch on an old blue tarp. they were more regular.
    last year i decided it wasn't wide enough so i laid another row beside the first.most was created on the tarp and repositioned/mixed and "placed" next to the first. that also allowed me to mix colors to look more like "real" stones.
    some of my blocks were made with regular concrete premix, most were with sand mix, which works great sweeping it between the "stones" when they're in place and spraying water on. it sets up without mixing or troweling. it will crack, but that adds to the appearance of age.

    i might mention that a friend who borrowed the same forms and mixer that i did, made almost a small patio from the forms. think patchwork quilt...

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    pi_homesteader

    1 year ago

    Beautiful pathways! Nice stone mulching too. :)

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    pparker4

    1 year ago

    beautiful job

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    sun.

    2 years ago

    That looks really cool. I wish I would have a yard :-)

    1 reply
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    pi526sun.

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, sun. It really is fun dreaming up projects like this one.

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    acoens

    2 years ago

    This is enchanting! What a wonderful project pi526!

    1 reply
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    pi526acoens

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, acoens. It was a fun project that turned out really well.