How to Build a Low Cost Natural Stone Walkway

Published: 01st May 2009
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Stone walkways add both charm and character to your landscaping. However, the cost of natural stone can make adding one to your landscape difficult or impractical for your budget. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your costs that will allow you to create a beautiful stone walkway that not only fits within your home improvement budget, but that also will compliment your natural surroundings.

Finding Inexpensive Natural Stone

The basic cost of natural stone is relatively inexpensive. However, the transportation of that stone quickly adds to its price. This is because stone is so heavy that it takes a lot of energy to get it from point A to point B, and the farther it is from point A to point B, the more expensive the stone product is going to be. This means that your cheapest stone options are going to come from stone that can be harvested from local quarries.

If your home improvement budget is close to $0, then you will need to forego buying commercial natural stone. However, you don't have to forego your project. There are a lot of ways that you can harvest natural stone from local areas without having to pay a dime. Your first option is to pick up stones that have sheared away from mountain sides along the highway. These stones are hazards to the public and generally can be taken away free of charge. (Before you take rocks and gravel from public lands, make sure you clear it with the local authorities.) This option is great for people who have a pickup truck and a few good friends who are willing to donate their labor.

Your second free option is to talk with construction companies and scan newspapers for people looking to get rid of rock debris from a construction project. You can find a lot of great stones that are perfect for building a walkway from these sources. Again you will need to load and haul away these stones. If you have a light weight truck, make sure you don't overload it with stones as you could cause serious damage to your rig.

Planning Your Walkway

Stone walkways can either be free form or puzzle fitted. Free form walkways layout stones so that they are staggered a step's length apart form one another. This design minimizes the amount of work that you have to do. Your second option is to create a walkway design that fits the stones together like a puzzle. Cobbling your walkway is going to take the most labor and may require stone cutting tools.

Prep Work for Your Walkway

After you have a general idea about how you want your walkway to look your next step is to prep the work area. Start by spray painting an outline of the walkway. If you want a straight walkway use twine and stakes to help you keep your lines straight. After your lines have been set you will need to excavate the walkway. You will need to dig down an inch more than the average height of your stones. Then spread an inch of sand on the bottom of your walkway.

Setting Your Stone

Your next step is to set your stones. If you want to cobble your walkway fit your stones in the excavated area so that they are fitted together tightly and so they are level. If you are going to create a staggered layout then place one large flat stone every 12 to 15 inches. Again check for level of each stone. If the stones aren't level, add or remove sand to level them.

Finishing the Walkway

The final step is to fill in the gaps between the stones. For cobbled walkways you will want to spread sand over the top of the walk way and brush the particles into the crevasses between the stones. For the staggered walkway you will need to fill in the large gaps between the stones with either grass or gravel. For a dramatic walkway design consider filling in the gaps with a contrasting color gravel or river rock. For example, if you are using red argillite pavers, use black river rock to fill in the gaps between the pavers.

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