A stepping stone path is ideal for areas that are constantly moist or wet underfoot, or areas, such as lawn, that begin to show signs of wear from foot traffic.
Stepping stones (timber rounds or other - see below)
Coarse-grained bedding sand
1. To lay timber rounds across a grassed area, step out the area where the path will be, marking each stride as the location for each round. Lay the rounds on the grass and walk across them to check the stride spacing. If necessary, adjust the distance between the rounds. Do not have them too far apart as this will make walking uncomfortable. If someone else is going to be using the path, it is a good idea to ask them to check the stride spacing for comfort also. As a general rule, the average adult stride is between 600mm and 700mm when measured from centre to centre.
2. With the timber rounds in place, examine the line taken by the path and adjust it until you are happy with the direction and shape.
3. Leave the rounds in place and cut around them with a spade or trowel. Remove the round and set it aside. Dig out sufficient soil to allow for the depth of the timber round, plus approximately 50mm of coarse-grained bedding sand.
4. Add the bedding sand and level the surface roughly with a float or trowel. Tamp the surface to ensure it is well compacted. Coarse-grained sand is a better bedding sand than some of the fine-grained beach sands as it compacts to a firm base and, at the same time, provides good drainage qualities.
5. Place the rounds in position and tap the surface with a rubber mallet. Check the surface is level using a spirit level. Continue in this manner until all the rounds are in position.
6. To complete the path, fill in around the edges of the rounds with clean soil.
- When laying in a lawn, make sure that the rounds or stones are settled 10 mm below grass level for ease of mowing.
- If laying rounds or stones in a loose material path, raise them slightly so the gravel or bark does not scatter over them.
Selecting stepping stones
Stepping stones can be made from a variety of materials.
Precast concrete stones are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours, and are well suited to a formal garden setting. Round, square, rectangular and kidney shapes are common and come in a range of diameters to suit the situation.
Timber rounds look well in a natural bush setting. They are cut from a variety of hardwoods to a minimum thickness of about 50mm. Soft pine timber is not recommended, as direct ground contact will lead to rot, insect and fungal attack. To increase the life of the timber, coat the rounds with preservative before laying them. Preservative-treated rounds can be purchased ready-cut, or if you can obtain suitably sized timber, cut your own stepping stones using a chain saw.
Flagstone is any flat, irregularly shaped stone or rock. Although heavy and sometimes difficult to find, the natural colours and durability of this type of stone make it an excellent choice as a path material.When selecting stones, choose large pieces of similar thickness.
For a more formal approach, create stepping stone pads from bricks laid at intervals. Usually two or three bricks is sufficient for each pad, with the bricks laid in any pattern of your choice.
Source: Planning and Building Paths'' (Murdoch Books)