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pinksand
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Laying a flagstone path

This question is related to my current landscaping project (https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 12&t=50470), but since this question is a bit more specific I didn't want it to be buried within that thread.

I purchased 1,100 lbs of flagstone last weekend for my approx. 70 sq. ft. garden path. I still need some more stone, but this is all we could fit in our cars ;) (saving the $160 delivery charge). All the information I can find online is for adding a path to an existing garden or lawn so the first step is digging into the ground/sod, then adding a base layer of sand/gravel. If you haven't read my previous thread, I'm smothering my lawn in this space with cardboard and adding this path to the garden I will be adding in that space. Since I will essentially be raising the ground by adding topsoil/compost to the garden surrounding the stones, I'm thinking that no digging will be necessary, but here's where I ran into some questions...

Which should come first, the path, or the garden? I've been going back and forth and was leaning towards laying the path before the soil is delivered on 4/20. The only thing is that the base layer of sand on top of the cardboard would be likely to shift I would imagine? I plan on planting between the stones with creeping ground covers so I thought I could just add the soil around the path and sweep it into the cracks. OR do I lay out the soil, sweep it away from where the path is going, add my sand base and set the stones?

I'm just concerned that since everything will be new and settling I'm going to have some serious issues with shifting no matter which order I do things in. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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tomf
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

I think the garden first.
The things I do are an evolution and I am always learning. My way is not the only way of doing things, and I may and will change the way I do things as I learn better ways. So any advice that I give is in that spirit.

Dillbert
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

you can save yourself the trouble of layering corrugated below the path.

2B crushed stone - 4 inches, followed by coarse sand - 3 inches
stone and "grout" to finish.

unless you plan to fill the area 8+ inches, you'll need to dig the path foundation first - and provide drainage for the canal just constructed.....

yes, you can do the garden area first - but that creates some double work in 're-digging out' the stone path. not a huge problem if you're working with power equipment, but one if by powered, two if by hand - you'll likely regret the hand bit about 25% down the path . . . (g)

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pinksand
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

Dillbert - I'm planning to grout the path with soil and mulch so that creeping ground covers like wooly thyme can grow between the cracks. Would the 4" of 2B crushed stone base layer make it difficult for the plants to grow?

Would something like this work? https://www.lowes.com/pd_60061-79138-XRS ... facetInfo=

I've gotten even more conflicting advice from family advising me that I need a base layer of stone dust beneath the sand. There seem to be very mixed opinions on this topic online and I'm dealing with a bit of information overload...
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Dillbert
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

>>overload

some of the info may not really "conflict" because there are choices.

the essential theory is:
a 'base' for support and drainage
a 'finer' material on top of that - makes setting/leveling the (in this case) flagstone easier

drainage is important - any collected water will freeze and cause minor to major damage/problems.

a 'base' for support is needed - unless the soil is supercompacted, the pavers/flagstone will 'sink' into the soil/soft dirt/mud.

the use of sand or stonedust is a choice; stonedust or granite dust, is more often used where the paving material is quite flat and regular thickness. you can 'wiggle' an irregular bottom into sand much easier than stone dust.

if you're going to grow things as grout, you definitely want to use sand as stone dust eventually gets about as hard as concrete.

since you are not 'hard grouting' (ie like mortar) the joints you could consider less base material as minor flexing / movement will not be an issue.

also, the larger the stone (area wise) the more stable they will be. since you already have the flagstone, not a lot to 'change' in that regard.

if this path on going to be on a slope (even assuming the path is 'flat') the base material is even more important - if it starts sliding down the slope, the flagstone will follow.

if it's over an existing slope, strongly recommend you dig / notch out the pathway base area to be flat vs. laying any base material on a slope.

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pinksand
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

Wonderful information Dillbert! Thank you so much for your help :)

The information you provided regarding stone dust vs sand is exactly what I needed to hear to confirm the majority of the information I found online. Plus, we already purchased the sand so it's definitely good news! It just seemed more appropriate for this project.

The path will be on an incline so I'll definitely be digging down to build a solid foundation with the crushed stone beneath the sand. Thank you for that recommendation. The majority of the flagstone I purchased is quite large, some 2-3 ft wide/long. Then some smaller "stepping stone sized" pieces to fill in the gaps. I just LOVE the big pieces because they're much more stable to walk on... just a bit hard to move when trying to get them all to fit just right ;)

Digging will begin tonight!
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

therock0503
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

Definitely the path first.

I've seen it time and time again (usually with patios), where people, like dillbert said, do the garden/sod/whatever, first, and then they run into drainage problems because the water collects in an area and now they have to go back and redo they garden.

bowhuntaz
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

My buddy did the ground cover between the flag stone, and what a pain in the booty it turned out to be!
We ended up ripping everything out and laying in a base of sand 4"deep, compacting it well, then a dry mortar mix to lay in the flagstone, leveled it, then hosed it down well to set everything in place.
hasn't given us an issue since, and that was 5 years ago.
As to the question of installing beds or stone first, that's totally up to you.
If you lay the stone first, then you'll have to come back and cut here and there to fit the beds in.
If you lay the beds first, you'll have to cut stone to got around the beds.
Either way, you're cutting.
For me, i would lay in raised beds, using stone walls, them build the paths.
Just my thoughts on the subject.
I'm planning raised beds with flagstone walls, with flagstone paths, and underground irrigation lines.
That means lots of 2" diameter pvc buried so i can find it and running my irrigation lines through them accordingly.
Grow to eat, eat to live, grow it yourself and live like a king!

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pinksand
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

My path is in place with 1600 lbs of flagstone laid over a few inches of crushed gravel topped with a couple inches of sand! It is so much easier to walk along than the single line of small stepping stones that was there. It feels solid and is beautiful, but will be even more gorgeous once the garden is in place! Rain poured the other night and so far so good regarding drainage... no puddles! Everything stayed firmly in place as well.

Digging for the base layer definitely created more work, and the crushed gravel added an unplanned expense... but I think it was definitely worth it! Thank you all for your guidance :)
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dillbert
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

>>but I think it was definitely worth it!

oh yeah. if you think doing it right was hard, think about tearing up everything you did so you could re-do it right, version 2....... (g)

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pinksand
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Re: Laying a flagstone path

And that was EXACTLY my motivation :lol:
USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32
"The earth laughs in flowers" -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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