A rustic stone path adds charm to your yard and can be used as a unifying element between several garden beds or can lead visitors to a bench, water feature or other hideaway. Grass, flowers, herbs or other ground cover can be grown between the pathway's stones, and if you lay the stones of your path flush with the surrounding ground, you can run your lawnmower right over the path to keep the ground cover tidy.
Sketch out a plan for your stone path, and measure the area to get a rough estimate as to how much stone you need.
Collect or purchase stone. Natural stones (or poured concrete in the shape of stones) can be purchased from home improvement or landscaping supply stores. You may be able to collect field stone for free in rural areas, since farmers need to remove stones from their fields so that they won't damage their machinery. Always ask permission before gathering field stone, even if it looks abandoned---the landowner may be planning some other use for it or may have promised it to someone else. Gathered field stone should be flat on one side and should be small enough for you to lift by hand.
Remove the sod from your intended path with a sod cutter. For smaller projects, you may be able to remove the sod with a shovel. For purchased stone, which is usually uniformly 2 inches thick, excavate the site to a depth of about 5 inches. For irregular field stone, it may be easier to excavate the site a few feet at a time so that you can customize the depth for each stone.
Spread a layer of sand over the path about 3 inches thick. The sand makes it easier to maneuver the stones into place. For irregular field stone, distribute the sand as best you can, but don't worry too much about making it exactly 3 inches deep in all areas.
Lay out the stones. Nestle the stones into the sand, and tamp them down with a rubber mallet to wedge them into place. Be sure to leave at least an inch of room between the stones for the ground cover to grow in.
Spread topsoil over the stones and sweep it into the cracks with your hands or a stiff-bristled broom. Fill in the cracks completely, but don't compact the soil too much.
Thickly sow ground cover seeds into the soil between the stones in your path and water them well. Some good ground cover plants include creeping thyme, pussy toes, mat penstemon and veronica, all of which grow to a height of less than 4 inches. You could also plant turf grass and keep it mowed. Ask your local garden center what kind ground cover would be right for your location. Once they are established, most ground covers need little watering or other maintenance.