Flagstones give a landscaping project a professional appearance without detracting from the natural beauty of the area. There are a variety of ways to lay flagstones, but the longest-lasting flagstone walkways are laid in a concrete base. Concrete costs more and requires more time and labor, but the results are worth the extra effort and expense.
Measure and mark the entire area where the flagstones will be placed. Measure the area in square yards. This number is necessary to determine the amount of gravel and concrete needed to complete the project.
Dig out the marked area to a depth of 5 inches, using the garden spade. Make sure the edges are as even and vertical as possible.
Fill the excavated area with 2 inches of gravel. Tamp and rake until the gravel is level and compacted. The gravel will provide a drainage base under the finished walkway. From this point forward, work in sections no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet.
Use the 2-by-4s to set a form for the first section. Place the form's narrow edge down so the top of the form is even with the ground.
Plan the placement of the flagstones by placing them on top of the gravel within the section. Then remove the flagstones and place them in the same pattern on the ground next to the section. This will allow for quick and proper placement of the stones after the concrete is poured.
Mix the concrete with water in the wheelbarrow, using the hoe. Follow the instructions on the concrete mix bag to determine the proper amount of water and the mixing procedures.
Pour the wet concrete over the gravel within the preset form. Pour until the concrete is about 1/2 inch below the top of the form. It will probably require mixing and pouring three or four batches of concrete in the wheel barrow to fill a 4-foot-by-4-foot section.
Place the flagstones in the concrete in the predetermined pattern. Work quickly, pressing the flagstones into the concrete, using a 2-by-4 to ensure level placement. If necessary, use a rubber mallet to pound the flagstones down to level positions.
Monitor the level of concrete in the section as the flagstones are placed. If the level does not reach the top of the forms, use the hand trowel to add concrete. If the concrete is spilling over the top of the forms, use the trowel to remove excess concrete from the section.
Wipe any wet concrete from the surface of the flagstones, using a damp sponge. Gently wipe the wet concrete between the stones with a sponge to give it uniform texture. Leave the forms in place for 24 hours to allow the concrete to dry.
Measure the section next to the just-completed section and skip it. Then set a new form one section away from the completed section. Fill that section in the same manner as the first. Repeat this staggered process until the project is complete.
Lay cardboard strips laid against the edges of completed sections, when filling sections that butt up against completed sections. Do not use wooden forms at this point. Fill the new section as prescribed. Do not remove the cardboard; it will disintegrate over time, leaving a small buffer between sections to allow for expansion and contraction of the concrete.