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Laying stepping stones

LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,484
edited April 2023 in Garden design
I'm on heavy clay and the lawn gets a bit muddy during winter with me walking to the greenhouse and the dog walking on it. Last year I reduced the lawn by half when creating a new border, meaning less lawn to take the impact of being walked on.

I've been meaning to lay a stepping stone path for a few years, and this morning I finally got around to doing it. They are 30cm diameter stones costing £8 each from the garden centre, B&Q sell them for £6 but have less colour choice. I've just laid them on sand for now to see how it goes.

I've laid them 60cm apart and they sit slightly proud of the lawn to allow for compaction, but clear of the lawn mower blades. I need to improve the rest of the lawn this year and improve drainage if possible, but this will do for now. Hopefully there'll be no more squishy muddy walks to the bottom of the garden..





  • Jenny_AsterJenny_Aster Posts: 936
    Was only looking at stepping stones yesterday, especially the silicone moulds to diy. I've got an area that's a real sticky mess, what with me being terrified of going bottom-over-apex, the dog bringing his muddy paws in the mud, and the continuous rain, it's just no joke. 

    Thanks for the tips on how to lay them, yours looks to be just the job.
    Trying to be the person my dog thinks I am! 

    Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,484
    edited April 2023
    I placed them out where I wanted them, tied a length of string to the centre of the little wooden gate you can see, and pulled the string tight to the first stone by the patio and then centred the stones to the string to get them about straight.

    I then cut around each stone with a trowel, lifted the stone (you can see the circle I had cut around the first stone in the first photo) and scraped off the turf with a small spade, dug down slightly and then flattened some sand for each stone to sit on, adjusting where necessary, pressing the stone down by standing on it and checking for any rocking. When done I filled the gaps around the edge of each stone with more sand to help keep them in place.

    I was tempted to buy a bag of cement to mix with the sand to make a dry mix, but didn't bother in the end. A belt and braces method would have been to lay compacted MOT 1 sub base, then the sand, or even a wet mix of cement, but thought that was overkill for what I needed. If they end up moving I can address that at a later time.
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,084
    Mum did something similar. She found that over time the stones ended up sitting lower into the grass - not sure if they sank, the clay shrank or if the lawn just built up over the years. They ended up more than an inch deep which made them harder to cut round and she had to use an edger. I don't know if a firmer sub base would have helped.
    Gardening on the edge of Exmoor, in Devon

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • Looks good. I too lay mine “on sand for now to see how it goes”, that was nearly 20 yrs ago🤣. I do find I need to lift them and add a bit more sand every few years though as they tend to sink.
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,696
    I have always assumed it was worms and their casts that led to the slabs slowly sinking.
    Rutland, England
  • Looks really good! Taking notes cause our new ones are currently just plonked on the lawn 😂 Been raining too much to be out digging - at least that's the current excuse.

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,484
    edited April 2023
    Nice looking garden ontopofthehill

    We had a heavy downpour today and when it stopped I went to test the stepping stones and some of them moved as I walked on them. I think the water has got under the stones and pooled as the soil is heavy clay, meaning they move when walked on. So I might have to do the belt and braces option of digging deeper and laying a sub base and then cementing the stones in place.
  • M33R4M33R4 Posts: 291
    edited April 2023
    I've also put my stepping stones back after my new turf has bedded in. Like you, it's to avoid trampling onto lawn when it's very wet and soggy when I am trying to get to the back of the garden or to feed the birds. 

    I put sand underneath to level it out. I won't be cementing them in as house will go up for sale and next owners might not  like stepping stones.

    I wish I could garden all year round!
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,484
    M33R4 I've rotated your image, that's a nice looking path..

  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,484
    My stepping stone sage continues..... :)

    I found the 30cm diameter stones were too small, I was still partly walking on the grass when stepping on them, churning up the grass when wet, so I have lifted them and exchanged them for larger 45cm stones.

    I may bed these in properly with sub base and mortar, but for now I will just lay them on sand again. It might be that with them being wider and heavier, and my feet not putting uneven pressure on the edges like they did on the smaller stones, that they remain stable.

    I've just plonked them roughly in situ for now as it's raining...

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