Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dry Set Flagstone Patio or Walkway Installation

Firepit and flagstone patio desinged by Susan Golis

A dry set natural flagstone patio or walkway is great way to enhance your outdoor living space.  Flagstone is available in many natural colors schemes and I am sure there is stone that will compliment your landscape. 

Before you begin this do it yourself project decide on the design. Look at natural stone patio and walkway books and research online for images on flagstone patios and walkways. 

Designing a stone patio or walkway is fun.  There are not many steps involved in the layout of the patio, however the installation  of the stone, sand and gravel is high labor. I would suggest that you pace yourself with the dry set flagstone patio or walkway installation; you may want to consider completing the DIY project over a long weekend with a couple of your friends.

In 2004 I moved to a historic adobe home in the Southwest region of North America.  My husband and I loved the architectural design of the home and that it was a green home.  We also admired the landscape as the home sat on 1/4 acre. I knew as soon as I saw the landscape that a natural dry set flagstone patio and walkway would not only accent the home but would also compliment the outdoor living space.
Flagstone patio and walkway with edge stone, dry set
 In order to complete the natural stone  patio design my husband would need to excavate the land. He was eager to rent equipment to achieve this task. And when the land was cleared we decided that we would install the patio and walkway the last week of June in 2004. 

We purchased the flagstone and all of our supplies at a wholesale rock company. For our patio and walkway we used 2 tons of flagstones and edging stone, we also purchased pea gravel and AB3 sand.  Our total costs for the patio and walkway came to $11.25 a square foot. 

Tools needed

A rubber mallet, garden tools, spade, wheelbarrow, level, white marking paint, heavy duty leather gloves, 2-wheel dolly, plate compactor, garden hose and a broom. (Note: you can rent a plate compactor at a construction supply store or you can buy one at a home improvement store or

Flagstone patio and walkway instructions

Start the installation of your flagstone patio and walkway by deciding on the location and determining the length and width of your patio and walkway.  A walkway that is three foot in width is good for a residential home and the patio length and width is your choice.  
Outline the design of your patio with white marking paint.  Step back and view the layout and make changes if desired.  When you are satisfied with the layout of the patio and walkway you would then measure the length and width of the patio.  

You need the measurement to determine the quantity of natural flagstone, edging stone, course pea gravel and AB3 sand that is needed to complete the project.

After you determine the location for you patio you would use your spade or tiller to remove the grass and soil to the depth of six inches.  Remove the excess dirt. 

I utilized the extra dirt to fill in low areas of my yard where the water did not drain and I also added it to a raised garden. 
Filling flagstone gaps with pea gravel

Use your garden hose to wet the base of the patio lightly.  While the area is wet, add one inch of AB3 sand and one inch of course pea gravel in the base of the patio and walkway.   

Compact the mixture of sand and gravel.  After you compact the sand and the gravel you would add your edge stone, the edge stone is a personal choice as you do not need it.  We added edge stone because I liked the look of the stone, I thought it gave the patio a more finished look.  

After the edging is installed you would then apply 2 inches of sand on top of the the compacted surface.  The sand is needed to set the stones.  

Laying flagstone

Choose elongated stones that will allow you to walk across the patio easily. Start laying the flagstone in the corners and work your way to the center.  

Set the stones into the sand and then use your rubber mallet to tap the stones lightly.

Work the stones into the sand by shifting the stones or tapping with the mallet.  We used a tight joint with large and small stones.  We 

When the flagstone layout is completed you may add an inch of course pea gravel around the stones or you may leave the flagstone in the dry set.  We opted for the pea gravel as it did prevent the stones from shifting and we thought the addition of gravel was eye appealing. 

Stone firepit and flagstone patio desinged by Susan Golis

Complete the flagstone patio by sweeping the stones to remove any excess  sand or gravel.  When the stones surface is clean attach the nozzle on your hose and set the dial on mist. Lightly mist the entire patio.  Allow the patio to dry before walking on it.

All the photographs that you view on this post are of the natural flagstone patios I have designed for clients. Please do not copy the photographs.

Here is a video that will help you with design ideas:

1 comment:

Holly Day said...

I love your patio! These stones are superb and I've always loved having them in a well designed garden... I'm not that skilled so would have to ask someone to do it for me but I enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading the journey to this stunning new designed garden. Game me some ideas for my own garden ;)