Don’t take your pathway for granite
Whether your yard is a tropical paradise or you’re just getting started with landscaping, adding stepping stones is a fun and affordable way to give your garden walkway dimension and character. A garden path leading around a corner can give the illusion of a larger space and tie together two different areas of your garden.
These 13 stepping stone ideas are a step in the right direction.
1. Artistic Endeavors
Artist Charlotte Brown of avantgarden.sculpture.art used concrete casts of rhubarb and hosta leaves, enforced with steel rebar cut to size, to create each one of these incredible stepping stones. Each stone is between 1 inch and 1.5 inches thick and painted with layers of earth tone and metallic paint. For this project in her Canadian garden, she created around 50 stepping stones to create a magical pathway that invites exploration.
2. Mixed Materials
Michelle Derviss of Derviss Designs is a Northern California-based landscape designer who approaches garden design like a sculpture. She welcomes collaboration with her clients to create a unique design for both the client and the natural setting. In this Mill Valley, California garden, she chose to grout in between brownstone with black Mexican pebbles to create a Japanesque style of patchwork stone.
3. Stone on Stone
Harley Gray of Permacraft Horticulture removed a high-maintenance patch of lawn from a client’s side yard and replaced it with a low-maintenance and attractive stone path. Gray focuses on using materials sourced locally that match their environment with a design heavily influenced by sustainability and permaculture. The path is made of basalt stepping stones and took about two days to complete.
4. Masonic Collaboration
The Pacific Northwest homeowners behind tahomaflora transformed what was once a bark pathway through a patchy lawn into the garden path of their dreams with the help of a local stonemason, Lefkos Christodoulides. They collected photos of path designs they liked, showed them to the mason, and then collaborated on the final design. The dimensional granite stones included a mix of rectangles and squares along with organic shapes of the same granite stone, resulting in a unique design that has continuity throughout. The path is accented with mossy boulders that one of the homeowners gathered from her neighbors. An avid gardener, she also did all the planting herself.
5. Big Steps
Stepping stone paths do not have to begin and end on a flat surface. In this design, landscaper Zsolt Frecska of Redtwig Landscaping created a flagstone path as an extension of a series of beautiful, illuminated stone steps. The use of stone of similar color but varying sizes throughout gives the design a natural feel while still being orderly.
6. Blend With a Bridge
Stepping stones can create a harmony between hardscaping or other garden features and a natural part of the garden or lawn. In this design, Michelle Derviss of Derviss Designs chose random New England bluestone to create what she calls “carpets of stepping stones” adjacent to a bocce ball court (lower left). The placement of the stones between the grass and the court help blend the different features seamlessly.
7. Classic Grass
Landscape architect Kari M. Brooner of KMB Design Studio used a stone called Shadow Gray to create this Southern California traditional cottage garden’s stepping stone path. The stones are tumbled square and rectangles about 2.5 inches thick. Brooner recommends allowing at least 4 to 6 inches of space between the stones to ensure the grass won’t burn.
8. Geometric Genius
Where and what you plant near your stones can alter the aesthetic design. The sharp edges of a geometric, modern stepping stone path at owner Colleen Freed’s beach home become part of a lush, tropical landscape thanks to the moss placement in between the stones. While the view walking this path is full of harmony, the perspective from above shows just how meticulously thought out the design is. The use of different materials feels deliberate, not random.
9. Modern Durability
For homeowners who are looking for a more modern look in their garden paths, Michelle Derviss of Derviss Designs suggests using a product called StepStone. In this garden, Derviss planted Dymondia, a hardy plant that can withstand foot traffic and is lower maintenance than grass, around the 3 foot by 3-foot concrete stepping stones.
10. Old World Charm
This Sonoma, California estate offers an exquisite example of using mixed materials and angles to create paver paths that give dimension and reflect the textures of the surrounding garden. Instead of setting the concrete pavers in a direct line to the fountain, the designer used a variety of sizes of square and rectangle concrete pavers at an angle. The path continues on the other side of the mosaic stones that surround the fountain. Planting a low-maintenance ground cover in between the stones further connects the path to the garden.
11. Think Outside the Brick
Not only can you create brick paver paths with patterns like herringbone, but you can also assemble bricks to create the look of individual stepping stones. Brick patios are standard features in homes, and unconventionally using a similar material to tie your path into your patio can be both playful and easy on the wallet.
12. Side-by-Side Squares
You don’t have to spend a lot to create an alluring garden path. Curve your path around beds and trees to mimic natural shapes in your landscape. By using affordable concrete pavers in a slightly unexpected way, such as placing them side by side, you can create a dynamic look without breaking the bank.
13. Diamond Design
By using an ordinary square concrete paver turned on an angle, you can recreate a simple, modern design. If you have an existing lawn, you can install paver stones directly into the grass by cutting out the sod, removing several inches of dirt, adding a layer of sand, and then fixing the stones in place. Make sure you sink them at a low-enough level to be even with or slightly below the grass to avoid tripping hazards and ensure you can mow easily.
FAQs About Stepping Stone Designs
Whether you plan to hire a local professional landscape designer or you plan to install a few pavers yourself, these are some of the most common questions when it comes to stepping stone design.
How Far Apart Do You Put Stepping Stones?
Stepping stones should match an average human stride, so the general rule is to place them about 24 inches between stones; however, many designs put stones closer together. If you choose to plant in between them, leave at least 6 to 8 inches between stones to give plants room to grow.
What Kind of Tools Do You Need to Lay Pavers?
Exactly what you need will depend in part on what type of materials you choose, but the essential tools you will need to install pavers include a shovel, a wheelbarrow, a compactor, a level, a tape measure, gloves, a framing square, lump hammer, wood stakes, and string.
Can You Make Steppings Stones Yourself?
You can make a variety of stepping stone designs yourself including concrete, wood, mosaic, and stone. Some home improvement centers and craft supply stores sell kits to make mosaic stepping stones for around $15. If you need more than one stone, the cost of these kits can add up quickly, but they make a great weekend project and add uniqueness to your garden.
How Much Does a Paver Path Cost?
The average cost of a paver walkway is about $2,850, with a range between $1,700 and $4,000. A flagstone path costs between $15 to $22 per square foot for materials and installation. Flagstone is a very durable stone, but it is also very heavy. For this reason, you may want a local paver installation professional to install a flagstone path.