Cobblestone paths are charming, durable and very doable weekend projects to upgrade the walkway to your front door or invite strolls in the garden. You can choose from granite, limestone, basalt, concrete faux cobblestone or other stones, and edge the walkway with contrasting vintage brick or a different stone to clearly define the path. It takes some digging, leveling, shoveling and patience to prepare the ground and set the stone.
Things You'll Need
- Measuring tape
- Small wood stakes (optional)
- Weed screen
- Hand tamper or vibrating plate
- Rubber mallet
- Paver edging , spikes and hammer (optional)
- Contrasting brick or larger pavers (optional)
- Mason's sand
- Hose with spray nozzle
Step 1: Mark the Path.
Unspool string along the outer edges of your proposed walkway, loosely securing it with pavers or driving small stakes into the path's perimeter to hold the string. Measure an even width for a short path; experiment with a vanishing perspective for a longer, winding garden path, to visually expand the length of the walkway.
Step 2: Dig the Trench.
Dig out the walkway deep enough to hold the cobblestones and allow for substrata. This can be as shallow as an inch or two. Periodically place a flat board over the trench to check that it is fairly level. Fill in or dig out uneven spots and lightly stomp down on loose dirt.
A fractional grade from the center to the edges of the trench allows rainwater to drain to the sides rather than pool on or under the cobblestones.
Step 3: Spread a Gravel Layer.
Cover the trench with an even layer of limestone or other builders' gravel and tamp it down with a hand tamper or vibrating plate to create a solid base that facilitates drainage. Lay a weed screen over or under the top of the gravel to prevent weeds from growing up and through the cobblestones. Spread a thin layer of sand over the gravel.
Step 4: Lay the Cobblestone.
Decide on your pattern: herringbone, alternate vertical and horizontal, or simple straightforward stones set close, and lay the cobblestones. Tap them into place with a rubber mallet to avoid chipping the edges. Check often that the stones are even -- you can do this by laying the board over a section to see if it lays flat. Adjust any uneven stones as you go.
Step 5: Fill in Sand.
Spread a layer of dry masons' sand over the stone path, filling in every space between the stones. Sweep the excess sand off the stones, being careful not to sweep too vigorously and gouge out any sand in the cracks. Lightly water or mist the path with the spray setting on a garden hose to wash the sand into the cracks between stones and compact it.
Don't use any force, either hard spray or straight water flow, that could wash away sand or you'll have to re-layer the sand and fill in the gaps you created.
Step 6: Optional: Add Edging.
Tap in paver edging along the perimeter of the walkway, right up to the stone. The paver edging is installed at the substrate gravel level, so it is below any sod or soil. Spikes secure it firmly in the ground. Alternatively, you could set a row of bricks on end along the walkway perimeter, or lay a line of half-buried larger cobblestones to define the path and keep it from migrating. Edging for your walkway is entirely optional.