Installing loose stones for paths..

Loose stones for paths and walkways.

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  Building loose stone paths and walkways

Loose stone paths can bring more textures and colors into your landscape and flower beds than any other material. Loose stone paths also adds an element not offered by other surfaces. The subtle crunching of the material underfoot can be soothing as you amble along the path.

Loose stone paths is either rough or smooth. Rough materials such as crushed granite chips or lava rock tend to compact. Smooth stones such as river rock or pea gravel will also settle into the sub base but their surface trends to migrate more with use. You’ll find many types size and colors of loose stone. Crushed quartz and quartz pebbles range from white to light pink. Crushed granite and lava rock are red. Dolomite and limestone are white or blue gray. Pea gravel and river rock display a variety of colors. Larger river rock isn’t as ornament or border for a path. For walking comfort choose ¼ to ¾  inch aggregates.

Color and texture. loose stone paths offers an endless array considerable depending both on size and whether the stone is crushed or rounded mechanically or naturally.

Sitting. Complements or contrasts both formal and informal designs. The final effect depends on contours of the path. Excellent for defining flower beds borders and shrubs. Can provide dramatic contrasts to surrounding garden or lawn area.

 

 

 

 

Advantages of a loose stone paths and walkways

1. One  of the least expensive materials for path construction, only slightly more expensive than organic materials.

2. Moderately easy to install.

3. Conforms to minor variations in terrain, crushed material holds well on gentle slopes.

4. Drains quickly and is not subject to heaving in freeze, thaw cycles.

5. Cleans up easily, a light spray is usually enough to wash away dirt.

 

 

 

 

Disadvantages of loose stone paths and walkways

1. Loose stones over ¾ inch are not easy to walk on.

2. Moving wheeled equipment over it can be difficult.

3. Small smooth materials such as pea gravel, can be displaced while walking on slopes

4. Some loose stones even crushed stone, is slippery if tracked onto a hard surface such as concrete.

5. White materials discolor easily.

 

                 Tools needed to install loose stones

 

·         Stakes, mason’s line, 4 foot level

·         Wheelbarrow

·         Round and square nose shovels or spades.

·         Garden rake

·         Tamper

·         Saw, for cutting drain pipe

·         Scissors, for cutting landscape fabric.

·         Tape measure

·         Hammer

·         Garden hose.

 

Design tips installing loose around your flower beds

 

Put loose stones between the flower beds, or make a straight or formal ribbon through the yard. First pick the route, then the color and texture. Decide if you want the color to offset the predominant color scheme of your flower beds or complement it with a subtle change in hue. Some fine, crushed material will settle into the sub-base and surrounding soil, creating a natural borderless effect.

Choose colors carefully. Bluestone may look enticing in the bag, but too vivid when installed. While rock offers the starkest contrast and reflects the moonlight but wide white walks may overwhelm a nearby flower bed. White rock also turns an unattractive gray over time.

 

 

 

 

Building loose stone paths

 

Excavation depth for the loose stone path depends on how well your soil drains.

1. Laying out the loose stone path. Lay out the contours of your path, or flower bed using batter boards or stakes for a straight design or garden hose for a curved installation. Be sure to include the width of the edging materials and any forms used to keep the edging straight. Mark the lines with spray marking paint, remove the sod, and excavate. 

 

2. If your soil drains rapidly you can build the path on a 4 inch gravel base. In poorly draining soil you’ll need 6 inches of gravel. In heavy clays excavate deep enough to install a drain pipe.

 

3. Installing edging forms. If you are using forms set them now. You can preassemble the forms from 2 – stock and stakes, or drive the stakes first and then screw the forms to them. In either case stake the forms every 3 to 4 feet. The soil determines whether to drive the stakes separately. Driving preassembled forms into clay soil is often difficult, stakes adjacent to the one you’ll driving hang up on the surface, increasing the probability of splitting the form board.

 

4. Adding the gravel base. Shovel in gravel for the base and spread it with a garden rake. Gravel is hard to push around, so you need a sturdy rake. And it will spread more easily if you use the back side of the rake instead of the tines. Build the gravel base a little at a time tamping it about every 2 inches of depth. Make sure the base is level in all directions and along the length of the path. Scoop up or rake out gravel from high spots and add it to low spots.

 

5. Set the edging. When you have about 4 inches of gravel in the base, set the edging materials on the gravel to check the base height. Add to the base if necessary to bring the top of the edging to grade level, or higher if your plans call for it.  If the edging is already too high use the side of the garden rake to scrape a trench in the base. Repeat either process until the edging is flush along the path surface.

 

6. Lay in landscape fabric. Cut landscape fabric so it fits snugly between the edges.

 

7. Topping off the path. Adding the top layer of loose stone will go more quickly than the base construction. Pour the stone from a wheelbarrow or shovel it in with a round nosed shovel. Shovel the stone into low areas and level it with the back of a garden rake, and pushing and pulling the gravel to a consistent surface. Dampen the surface with a fine spray and tamp it firmly. After tamping add more stone, dampen it and tamp again.

 

            Keeping your loose stone paths and flower beds neat.

 

Loose stones will move around with use, and stones on sloped paths will slide toward the bottom. To keep your path looking neat rake it regularly. Start at the lower end of the slopes and rake upward.

 

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