How to Build a River Stone Path

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Things You'll Need

  • String

  • Square spade

  • Hand tamper

  • Crushed rock

  • Landscape fabric

  • Metal edging

  • Hammer

  • Spreader bar

  • Block of wood

  • River rock

Square spades help you to set straight sides.

River stone is a smooth rock that is aesthetically pleasing. When used on a path it is durable, attractive and also gentle on the feet if you walk on it barefoot. River rock shifts a bit because it is so smooth, so it needs to be used on top of a more structured surface like crushed rock. The size of river rock varies from 3/8 inch to 2 1/2 inches. When it is very small it is also called pea gravel. River rock is usually gray or brown.


Step 1

Map out the path with string. Lay a length of string on each side of the path so you can see exactly where you want it to go.

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Step 2

Dig out the path so it is 4 inches deep. Use your spade to make the sides straight and the bottom even. Smooth the bottom with a metal rake and compact it using a hand tamper.


Step 3

Fill the path with 2 1/2 inches of crushed rock. This acts as a base rock and won't move around as much as river rocks. Rake the path smooth.

Step 4

Spray the crushed rock with water and pound it down with a hand tamper until it is smooth and compacted.


Step 5

Unroll landscape fabric over the path with the shiny side up. Secure it with stakes if desired, but the edging will also help hold it in place.

Step 6

Lay the edging on either side of the path, using a spreader bar to keep it apart. Hammer it in place by holding a wood block over the top of the edging and tapping it down with the hammer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when connecting the edging sections.

Step 7

Fill the path with river rock so that it is 1/2 inch from the top of the edging. Rake the gravel smooth.


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