How to Make a Flagstone Sidewalk
image by Wikimedia Commons
Concrete sidewalks are functional, but boring. A more attractive way to create designated paths is to use flagstones. Making a flagstone sidewalk is actually very straightforward, with the principal skill to be mastered being cutting the flagstones. Everything else involves work familiar to most gardeners.
Preparing the Work Area
Use the mallet, tape measure and stakes with twine to mark out the path your sidewalk will follow. The twine running between the stakes is particularly useful for making sure your lines are straight. However wide you want your sidewalk to be, make sure your work area is at least 4 to 6 inches wider.
Dig out the work area to a depth of 3 inches. Tamp the newly revealed earth into a firm, flat surface.
Spot-check the ground to make sure it is level. Smooth out any areas that are not. The entire area needs only to be roughly level; absolute perfection is not required. However, if you need to do a lot of leveling work, it is probably a good indication that you have chosen the wrong site for the walkway.
Fill the work area with 1 1/2 inches of sand. Rake this and spot check it so that it is also roughly level.
Cutting and Laying Stone
Use the measuring tape and the edge of the chisel to etch guidelines where the stone needs to be cut.
Strike along the line etched in Step 1 with the hammer and chisel. Use firm taps, not hard blows. If you hit the stone too hard, it will shatter. Instead, you are trying to chip a line in the stone until it fractures along that line. For especially thick stones, it may be be necessary to flip the stone over and etch two lines, one on each side, and to chisel them both.
Cut the stones as necessary to fit the walkway throughout the laying process.
Lay the stones into the sidewalk. There should be some space between them, as the compacted sand will serve as the mortar that holds the stones in place. However, more than 1/2 inch of space is too much. Wide, irregular spaces between stones sometimes cannot be avoided, and should be filled with smaller flagstone cuttings. Irregular stone surfaces that make a flagstone wobbly should have some extra sand poured in beneath them before laying to fill in the gap.
Pour sand over the walkway, filling all the gaps between the stones. Use a broom to make sure the sand gets into all of the gaps between the stones.
Spray the walkway with water to compact the sand. Allow the sand to stand and dry for at least a few hours.
Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until the joints between the stones are properly filled and firmly compacted.