Stepping stone path materials vary depending on the region you live in. Selecting and estimating materials for your stone path may seem a little confusing at times.
Products often have different names depending on the quarry or region they came from. We try to be as generic as we can when describing materials.
Most people today use the internet for preliminary shopping. The problem is that not all web sites have information pertaining to your market and conditions.
You may see the name of a stone you like, but your local retailer might not know what you are asking for. Chances are good that they have what you want, but just call it something different.
We built a section just for this reason called Estimating Materials. It takes you through the whole process of what supplies are carried by landscaping yards, and how to estimate your needs.
Stone is sold in different ways around the world. By the ton or pound is always the easiest way to buy it. This way you can estimate your requirements based on the dimensions of your path. If you have more than one landscape supply yard in your area, we recommend visiting each one to see what products they have available.
A visit to the stone yard will give you the chance to ask lots of questions. Find out what is the most popular and durable stone for your pathway. Rainy days are the best time for preliminary shopping or you can usually visit their website if they have one. Tell them what project you are building, and they should be able to give you some guidance.
I have seen landscapers use different products under the garden stepping stones. One may use a fine crushed gravel, and another person may use a washed sand.
The advantage of washed sand is it makes it easier to stabilize the rocks. I prefer to use a fine crushed stone dust, as it has a little more substance to it. Ask your local suppliers what they recommend.
For beginners, the flatter the stone, the easier it is to stabilize into your base.
Look for the best stones you can that also have a little bit of character to them. They should allow you to pick your own stones for building a stepping stone path.
Inquire about the yards return policy if they have one just in case you order too many.
Be aware of iron or other minerals in the stones if they are going to be near concrete or plants.
Iron can bleed which can stain concrete and also affect certain kinds of plants in garden walkways.
Make sure you choose the right size stones that you can handle and place yourself, or with a helper without hurting your back.
Try to use stones that are a regular stock item instead of a one time purchase. You may want to add to your path in different directions down the road. If you select a one-time purchase, you may not be able to match the stone at a later date.
You can estimate the amount of stone required for a patio or walkway by the square footage of the area. Generally, one ton of flagstone will cover approx 80 to 90 sq ft of surface area with 2 inch thick stones. That would make a 120 square ft. Pathway requires about 1.3 tons of stone.
Your stepping stone path is a little different than this and is going to require a little bit of guesswork. Your coverage will vary depending on the width of your path, and the amount of space you have between the stones.(This is another reason why I had you inquire about a return policy.)
One ton of stone on most of my pathways usually covers 130 to 150 square feet.
The easiest method for estimating single stepping stone paths is to pace out your actual steps counting how many stones you will need. Multiply this number by two for a wider path. Instead of buying by the weight, you can now order by the number of stones.
In any dry-laid project I always try to use stones that are at least two inches in thickness or more. If the stones are too thin they will crack very easily if something is dropped on them.
Good field stones can sometimes make great stepping stone paths so long as they have at least one fairly flat surface.
Estimating the amount of sand or crushed rock under your stepping stones is also a little tricky to do.
If you are randomly placing the stones in the lawn you will need enough sand or crushed stone for a couple of inches under each stone.
For a very small path just grab a few bags or buckets. If you have a very large area you may have to buy a ¼ yard.
If you are placing your stepping stone pathway in a sea of gravel or decorative rock, these products are usually sold by the yard. For this, you will need to know the square footage of the area. Purchasing by the yard requires you to convert the cubic feet to cubic yards.
Take the length multiplied by the width multiplied by the depth in feet and divide by 27 and this gives you the yards of material required.
You will also have to divide the number of inches in depth by 12 (there are 12 inches in a foot). This will give you the .25 in the example you see below.
Ex: An area that is 40 ft long by 3 ft wide with and depth of 3 inches
40 ft x 3 ft = 120 sq. ft x .25 (¼ of a foot deep)
= 30 cu. ft divided by 27
= 1.1 yards.
If you need edging along the sides to contain the path materials from migrating into the lawn, there are different kinds of edging available. Talk to your landscape supply yard, and tell them what you are using it for. They should have a couple of different options for you. A common choice is flexible plastic edging sold in 20 foot lengths. Measure out the length of your path before you go to the yard.
You can also visit our Edging and Decorative Rock Module for some tips on using edging and landscape fabric.
For safety, you may also want to consider walkway lighting. There are some excellent solar lighting products on the market that are easy to install.
You may need to use a landscape fabric under your path if the stones are set in a gravel or mulch bed. If they are just set in the grass, then you won't need any.
Make sure you purchase a good quality fabric (landscape supply yards usually carry better quality industrial strength fabrics). This should be easy to estimate for you, because you already have your square footage of the area. It can usually be purchased in rolls 3, 4, or 6 feet wide and 100 feet long.
Now you have all the tools and amounts of materials that you will need to do the job, it's time to move on the the next stage of preparing the site.
Table of Contents: Stepping Stone Path