Pathway of slate stepping stones through gravel in a lush green backyard

Making The Most Of A Small Backyard With Stepping Stones

A backyard stepping stone hardscape can be both functional and attractive with the right design and stone type. Use these project and stone selection tips to transform your yard with high-quality stepping stones.

Planning Your Hardscape Project

A stepping stone path to your home can define and enhance different areas, guide guests, and provide easy access to gardens. Stone walkway design is often overlooked during the initial house build, resulting in dull and boring walkways.

In the United States, stone walkways are commonly considered a convenience, not a necessary feature that allows easy access to the home’s exterior areas and a level of visual refinement to your yard.

A well-designed path of high-quality stepping stones can be the finishing touch your home needs, or perhaps even the main focal point that brings together all of the landscaping efforts around the home.


To begin planning, you will want to determine the project’s size, shape, and cost of the materials you will use. The size and shape will then be marked to show all the project boundaries and to determine the total cost.

On average, a landscape contractor will charge about $1,400 for a medium-sized project, or roughly between $13.00 and $17.49 per square foot installed. Projects have shown an average of $635 in material costs if you choose to do it yourself (Information courtesy of Porch.com).

Home improvement stores and other local businesses sell various natural and artificial stepping stones to choose from. They will usually deliver it for you, and you can have the stone stacked near where the path will go so you won’t have to move it again.

If you search around online a bit, you can sometimes find coupons that will make the cost even lower.

Making The Most Of A Small Backyard With Stepping Stones -

Common Backyard Stepping Stones Materials in the United States

Flagstones are one of the most common landscaping stones in the United States. This type of stone includes various stone compositions to choose from, such as sandstone and limestone.

They tend to have an irregular outline but can be cut flat or to a selected diameter.

Sandstone has a coarse texture and rough, loose grain features (compressed sand look). Sandstone is available in brown, tan, black, grey, white, and red and adds a natural vibe to any home’s exterior while still looking sleek and modern.

Basalt is another stone that holds a wide range of potential in the field of landscape design. It comes in several shades from grey to black, but can be treated to reflect different surface styles.

Depending on the treatment, you can create a polished, modern look, country-style look, or a dark palette. Because of its composition, basalt has little resistance to weathering in comparison to stones like granite.

Slate is fine-grained and has a unique appearance due to the layers of sedimentary deposits in the Earth that create the stone. It is mostly composed of clay minerals and high levels of quartz.

One particular type of slate, spotted slate, is very modern but can be hard to find. Because slate absorbs minimal amounts of moisture, it can ensure rain, sleet, and snow.

Colors of slate stepping stones are determined by the type of iron present and can range from grey to other green, gold, and red shades.

A professional company to check out would be RCP Block and Brick. They boast, “We at RCP Block & Brick strive to obtain and sell the highest quality and most diverse selection of natural stone available in the market today.”

This company states they do not offer free shipping but are more than willing to work with the customer to reach a beneficial conclusion for all.

Stepping Stone Designs and Ideas for a Beautiful Backyard

Choosing the right surface for your stones can be tricky. You want to select a surface that won’t be slippery when wet and avoid black or dark stones if they are in direct sunlight throughout the day.

Consider your home’s style when choosing the type. Try to match textures and colors with the home to create a professional look. Another tip is to pour a concrete walkway. After each concrete portion is poured, take a piece of wood and make indentations in the concrete. Last, paint with the desired color/texture.

Another fun tip is to change the environment around the stepping stones. Add a colored light bulb, a fairy garden, or a birdbath. These could make perfect accessories to your stepping stone pathway.

How to Install Conventional Stepping Stones With Ease

After choosing the perfect stepping stones, it is time to put the plan into action. Some tools you may need are a wheelbarrow, shovel, rake, carpenter’s level, tape measure, and sticks and string to lay the boundaries out. First, determine the boundary edges of the project area and clear it of any vegetation. If using an herbicide, apply at least twice with three days in between before beginning the installation.

Once the vegetation is gone, pour a two-inch layer of sand or compacted gravel and level with a 2×4 or similarly-sized leveling tool or tamping tool. Now that the ground is level place the stepping stones into the sand approximately 6-8 inches apart. Ensure each stone is kept above the sand and is level with the one before it.

A weed barrier or good landscape fabric is optional but recommended to keep your stone path maintenance-free and clear of damaging and aesthetically displeasing weeds and other unwanted ground cover type vegetation.

After the brick or stone steps are in place, take the weed barrier fabric and place over the stepping stones. By carefully cutting around the stepping stones, you create a perfect barrier to minimize weeds. Weighing the barrier down with rocks can also help while cutting around the stones.

After the barrier is set (metal edging works great here), surround the stepping stones with pebbles, river rocks, scoria (also known as lava rock), pea gravel, or any other landscaping material of your choice.

The material should be deep enough to cover the weed barrier while simultaneously keeping the stepping stones’ surface clear of any material.

For a crisp, finished look, a narrow strip of landscape edging or intentional border edging is ideal. To install, dig a narrow trench that allows you to place the edging material just deep enough not to be a tripping hazard.

The top should be about an inch above the gravel surfaces. Always ensure that the stepping stones are in a safe place to avoid slipping or falling. Parents, tenants, the elderly, and children will appreciate the safe environment!

Stepping Out

When your yard starts to seem dull and boring, or when you start feeling ready for a change, stepping stone hardscapes are the perfect solution to spice up your backyard.

Not only do they create a safe and fun place to step, but they can also be absolutely beautiful and visually stunning when executed in the right way. The color combinations are entirely customizable and can typically be personalized any way you like.

Adding this fun feature to your landscape will provide a great way to protect your lawn and efficiently and effectively guide people around your home in an aesthetically pleasing way.

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JDFerris
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