Setting Inlaid Stepping Stones

Recently I was given some natural stone to add to my landscape by a local gardener.  Some of the stone was large and flat while other stones were rough edged and angular. Today I’ll show you how I used the large flat stones in three areas of my yard. First I’ll tell you how I set the stones. I didn’t use any fancy equipment other than a shovel. Often when people set stones and concrete they lay down sand or crushed gravel underneath. I didn’t since I wanted a very natural, like-it-had-always-been-there look.

  1. I laid the stones down where I wanted them and made sure they were positioned right. 
  2. I used my shovel and edged around the stone fitting the shape of the stone as tightly as I could.
  3. I removed the sod and transferred pieces to other areas of the yard that have dips in them. (Speaking of dips, have you ever wondered about the signs that say “Dip in Road”? Why doesn’t he ever move? ;))
  4. Then I tested the stone fitting to make sure I had removed enough soil from underneath and either added or subtracted soil to make it fit better. 
  5. Last, I set the stone and back filled around the edges.

Ideally the grass will grow around the stones and they will appear to have always been there.

The first area is by the arbor. A large threshold type stone was just what the area needed.

The large stones on the sides are set at 5 feet apart which makes the threshold stone about 24-28 inches long.

A close-up. 

The second area is next to our front sidewalk garden to create an entry point into the yard. the entry was already there but it was grass only. I removed the sod, put the stones in, and mulched around them.

The third and final area to show you is the beginning of a natural stepping stone pathway between the birdbath garden and the deck garden. As I gather more stones I’ll add to the pathway.

The pathway splits after the stones where a viburnum anchors a small planting bed. The left side goes back to the front yard via the side garden and the arbor. The right path goes back to the backyard lawn.

That grill really stands out, I’ll have to plant something next to it to disguise it!

How do you use stone in your garden?

10 thoughts on “Setting Inlaid Stepping Stones”

  1. Dave ! This is exactly what I want for two separate paths leading from the front garden to the back garden .. I actually laid a heavy one in fron of the garden shed door .. I dug more out that I needed to fit the stone in but added sand to make it as stable as possible because if it wiggled .. well I would end up face first on the shed floor probably ? LOL
    Great post on this technique : )

  2. That looks really nice, Dave! My husband and I looked really hard for nice flat rocks in our area and they just weren't easy to find so my path of them is out and a landing pad for a bench is in. This is what I planned to do with them but wasn't sure it would work nicely. Now I know it looks great!

  3. A very nice gift Dave…Have you priced rock recently! Btw, I like the way you've used it in the garden. I use it to line beds and make walls…gail

  4. Dave,
    Very nice.
    I have to admit I'm a little envious someone 'gave' you stones… no, not really… I'm happy for your blessing. 🙂
    I just bought(yesterday)natural stones (rounded though)for a border between my new front lawn project and the road. They will keep my soil and mulch from washing out into the road.

    Otherwise I use the type of natural stones you were given (the ones I'm happy you were blessed with) for making pathways between my large planted beds. I like really big planting beds but it's nice to be able to walk through them, too. And I use them for pathways in my vegetable garden. I'm trying to purchase some each year until I have all my "little projects" completely. They are expensive… but SO worth it.

  5. Looks so "natural" Dave. I really like to use natural stone but where I'm located the soil moves. Yes, moves. My shed has dropped down over time & it really needs to be raised up a tad. It's frustrating.

  6. Lucky you to be gifted with some real stone. A super good addition to your garden; which is really changing fast!

  7. That look really good and really adds something to your yard. I only hvae stepping stones that finally after a year are even and the grass is growing around them. I can now mow right on over them and not hit the stpping stone, yay!


  8. Joy,

    In front of your shed sounds like a great place for that large stone. The sand does help to level it but in this case the soil underneath was relatively stable. I definitely don't want to see you land on the floor!


    I bet it does look great! I had asked around for a couple weeks before someone volunteered his rocks. I wish we had a few more rocks around to play with in our yard. I'll have to go rock hunting again soon!


    I sure haven't priced it lately. I just know that I want to spend as little as possible and free is the best price! Your walls look great!


    Thanks! I hope to locate some building contractors in our area and see if they would mind me hauling off a truckload of rock. That might work for you too.


    Stones are great for borders! Check out my post for tomorrow evening. I posted at our garden club chatroom to see if anyone had any to spare. Otherwise most of my stone is imported (saying "imported" makes everything sound fancier) from my in-laws in Mt. Juliet. I would love to use stone in the vegetable garden as well but I'm settling for wood for now.


    I think your soil is a lot sandier than the soils we have here. Our heavy clay doesn't let much sink.


    Thanks! I've been working fairly aggressively at it this year trying to get some area looking more "finished."


    Mowing over them was one of my primary concerns. I don't want to make more work for myself than necessary!

Comments are closed.