How to Install a Stone Walkway with Flagstone, Gravel, or Pavers

Paver Walkway lined with flowers leading to black gate
Photo: Ed Gohlich

Install a flagstone, gravel, or paver walkway in a weekend or less! Use these three DIY stone walkway ideas to add interest to your yard. Our easy how-tos walk you through every step of the stone walkway installation process.

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DIY Flagstone Walkway

Flagstone Pathway to blue and gray house
Peter Krumhardt

Use flagstones to bring natural beauty to your walkway. This handsome and durable flagstone walkway makes a great addition to any yard. We recommend choosing flagstones that are at least 3/4-inch thick; thinner pieces crack more readily. Purchase stones of fairly uniform thickness so they will be easy to lay evenly. Buy about 10% more than you think you'll need to allow for waste and breakage. Follow these steps to learn how to build a simple paver walkway.

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Step 1: Cut Paving Stones

Walkway tools sitting on rock
William N. Hopkins

Using a masonry drill bit, cut walkway flagstones to the desired shape by drilling a series of small holes in the stone, about 1 inch apart. Use a hammer and chisel to gently break away the unwanted section of stone. When moving rock, be careful to watch your back. Remember to bend at the knees. Also, safety goggles, gloves, and sturdy shoes are a must when building a stone walkway.

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Step 2: Edge the Perimeter

Pounding stakes into walkway border
William N. Hopkins

Use a garden spade to edge the perimeter of the flagstone walkway. Excavate the area (depth will depend on height of the pavers) and level the surface. Bend plastic edging to conform to the shape of the garden walkway and secure with rods.

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Step 3: Lay Down Fabric

Raking sand for walkway
William N. Hopkins

Lay down a sheet of permeable landscape fabric to prevent weeds from sprouting. Rake about an inch of sand over the fabric, making sure to keep the layer of sand as even as possible. You'll place the stones over the sand, so this ensures that your DIY walkway is flat.

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Step 4: Place Stones

Placing walkway stones
William N. Hopkins

Move paving stones into place, keeping gaps between stones 2 inches or less. Wiggle stones into the sand so they are at the same height. Many rocks have a dull side as well as an interesting one. Be sure to show off the best face of each of your walkway pavers.

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Step 5: Fill Gaps

Sweeping walkway rocks
William N. Hopkins

Fill gaps between flagstone pavers with decorative landscape rock, which is less messy than sand and more stable than pea gravel. Use graduated sizes (to ensure they fit together well) that are 1 inch or smaller in diameter. Use a large broom to help spread the rocks around your simple paver walkway.

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DIY Gravel Walkway Ideas

gravel walkway bordered by big rocks
Bryan E. McCay

This gravel walkway is an inexpensive and informal option for getting around a yard. You can make a stone walkway any width, depending on whether it will be used for solitary strolling or for walking side by side. Larger stones placed along the edges of this DIY walkway act as a barrier to keep gravel from spreading into planting beds.

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Step 1: Level Walkway

shovel and dirt walkway between rocks
Bryan E. McCay

Dig out the walkway to a depth of 2-4 inches, depending on the rocks and gravel chosen. Try to keep the width of the path consistent for a clean look.

Gravel walkways are best suited to low-traffic areas and flat ground, where the gravel won't migrate downhill.

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Step 2: Place Edge Stones

placing rocks for walkway
Bryan E. McCay

Place large stones single file along both edges. Choose stones matching in size and color for a sleek look, or choose rocks of mixed types and sizes for a more natural vibe. These serve both a decorative and practical purpose, as they mark out the path and prevent gravel from scattering.

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Step 3: Lay Fabric

cutting landscape fabric around walkway rocks
Bryan E. McCay

Unroll landscape fabric and cut it a few inches wider than the excavated area. Underlaying the gravel with porous landscaping fabric ensures that the walkway will stay weed-free and mud-free. Use landscape pins ($7, The Home Depot), the metal pins that resemble oversized staples, to secure the fabric and prevent it from shifting over time.

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Step 4: Fill in Gravel

placing rocks on landscape fabric
Bryan E. McCay

In addition to the pins, tuck the fabric edges under the walkway stones. Both will help keep the fabric secured. Fill the stone walkway with gravel and smooth. Now your rustic garden path is ready to be used!

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Install a Paver Walkway

Paver Walkway lined with flowers leading to black gate
Ed Gohlich

All you need to install concrete walkway pavers is a firm, smooth base of sand and some sweat equity. Choose a layout that requires minimal cutting. Your path should be at least 3 feet wide. Keep the path at least 2 feet away from trees, large bushes, and hedges.

This DIY paver walkway provides a clean and attractive route through the yard. Concrete pavers offer a wide range of colors and patterns, are easy to install, and are relatively inexpensive. Interlocking paver blocks are also available, making the process of laying paver patios and paths even easier.

Expert Advice: To calculate the amount of sand (or gravel) you'll need for a paver stone walkway, multiply the path length (in feet) by width (in feet) and then multiply by the desired depth of sand (in feet) to determine cubic feet. Divide by 27 to determine cubic yards.

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Step 1: Mark Borders

Marking walkway with spray paint
Ed Gohlich

Lay out a row or two of pavers to determine a configuration that won't require much cutting. Once you've determined the width (remember to account for the edging), mark each border with a string attached to stakes. Mark the borders of the stone walkway directly onto the ground with chalk or spray paint.

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Step 2: Excavate the Path

Digging out walkway
Ed Gohlich

After marking your paver walkway design, clear the area of plant materials and debris. With a shovel, dig a level trough approximately 6 inches deep. Slope the surface of the trench slightly away from structures to facilitate drainage (approximately 1 inch every 4-8 feet). Spread landscape fabric ($19, The Home Depot) across the trench and up the sides. Add a 2-inch layer of gravel and tamp.

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Step 3: Install Edging

Putting nail in walkway frame
Ed Gohlich

Install 2x4 plastic edging designed for pavers along the trench, mitering joints and fastening the edging into the ground with metal spikes every 4 feet. Level across the walkway to make sure the edges line up and lie flat.

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Step 4: Fill with Sand

Framing walkway in the dirt and gravel
Ed Gohlich

Fill the trench with coarse bedding sand, leaving enough depth for the pavers, and rake smooth. Dampen the sand, then level it by dragging a 2x6-inch piece of wood (width of the path). Add sand to low spots and remove sand that builds up. Tamp the soil firm, removing any roots 1/2 inch or more in diameter. Add steps if the walkway must incline more than 10%.

If desired, install the weed barrier. Make a screed from a 2x6, notching it equal to the thickness of the pavers. Add enough sand to form a 2-inch layer. Screed the sand to form a level bed. Moisten and tamp the sand until it is well packed and smooth.

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Step 5: Start Laying Pavers

Hammering stones in walkway
Ed Gohlich

Starting at the corner, lay the first few pavers snugly against the edging. Use a rubber mallet to tap the pavers into place. Every few feet, use a level to check that the pavers are set at the same height. Make sure paver edges and joints are aligned.

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Step 6: Cut Pavers

Saw cutting wood
Ed Gohlich

Rent a masonry saw to cut pavers if you lay them in a staggered pattern or if the path is curved. Or, cut the pavers manually by first scoring and then cutting them with a baby sledge and a brickset. Be aware of how the cut paver edge compares to the manufactured edges when laying them in place for a clean and consistent look. Use a framing square to true up the courses every few feet. Always use safety glasses, earplugs, and a face mask when operating a masonry saw.

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Step 7: Fill in with Fine Sand

Sweeping stone walkway
Ed Gohlich

Finally, spread sand on the paver walkway. Pour fine silicate sand in the joints and more on top of the pavers. Use a broom to sweep sand into joints. Repeat this process until the joints between the pavers are filled. Tamp the surface periodically. When the joints are nearly full, sweep off excess sand and dampen the filled joints.

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