How to Lay a Flagstone Walkway in an Existing Lawn

There is something timelessly appealing about a flagstone walkway for patio or backyard. Maybe it’s because it takes the guesswork out of wondering where, in fact, we should be headed.

Flagstone Walkway

It’s all laid out in front of us, and all we need to do is walk that way. Or maybe it’s appealing because it combines form with function – a beautiful way to keep the lawn from appearing trampled on a well-worn (albeit unofficial) path.

If your yard would benefit from a flagstone pathway, but you’re unsure of how to go about putting one in, this tutorial will give you the tools you need to get started. It’s not a super-fast home improvement project, but the process is satisfying and the result absolutely rewarding.

What is flagstone?

What is flagstone?

Flagstone is a sedentary sandstone used since the 1900s for landscaping. It’s lightweight, resistant to heat absorption, and typically pale in color. You’ll find them around pools, as pathways, or patios.

Is flagstone good for a walkway?

Flagstone pathways are an excellent alternative to concrete. It’s easy to powerwash, lays well, and has well-defined lines. Flagstone provides a smooth non-slip pathway that works well by pools.  And you can evenly install them to prevent tripping.

Flagstone also comes in various sizes and colors, providing you with an array of options for style, design, and purpose using this stone. You can cut them evenly for a smooth, symmetrical surface. Or fashion the irregular stones for a more natural look. 

Is flagstone cheaper than pavers?

Flagstone is typically cheaper than pavers. However, if you’re paying a landscaper to install flagstone and complete a whole project, it will cost more than pavers. The cost of flagstone also depends on the cut, size, color, and quality of the stone.

How to Lay Flagstone on Dirt

How to Lay Flagstone on Dirt

Flagstone is a suitable material to lay in dirt because it’s heavy and gives a rustic look to your outdoor space. You can lay flagstone on dirt with a few easy steps.

  1. First, measure the area you want to place your pieces of flagstone. 
  2. Dig down three to six inches with a shovel in the area you measured. And then flatten and smooth the area with a rake.
  3. Lay the flagstone in the area and make sure it’s flat. Then pack dirt around the stone to ensure it doesn’t wobble.
  4. Next, you’ll lay the other pieces of flagtone with the same process and keeping them spaced only a few inches apart.
  5. Once you’ve placed and set all the flagstone, you can sweep and rinse off the excess dirt to clean the stone.

Give the walkway a few hours to dry before walking on it.

How to Cut Flagstone

There are three primary ways you can cut flagstone. There are other ways, but experts recommend the following methods.

  1. Hammer and chisel – This is the simplest way to cut flagstone. Measure and mark the stone. Then create a groove and tap it until it breaks.
  2. Use a circular saw with a masonry bit. Mark and measure the stone before cutting a deep groove. Then tap the bottom edge with a hammer to easily break off the stone.
  3. Masonry saw is a dedicated tool to cut flagstone and is the easiest method. Measure and mark the stone. And then cut the stone and let the saw do the work.

Materials you’ll need for flagstone walkway:

  • Flagstone slabs (sold by weight; the amount you’ll need varies by thickness of the slabs themselves and the spacing between them, so talk with your landscape products retailer about estimating an amount for your pathway)
  • Sand (amount will vary based upon how many flagstone pieces you have. For your reference: a half-yard of sand was sufficient for the walkway shown in this tutorial.)
  • Shovels (one regular shovel and one hand shovel)
  • Time, energy, and plenty of muscle

How to make a flagstone walkway patio: Step by Step Guide

How to make a flagstone walkway patio: Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Pathway area

Determine the pathway area. This pathway will lead from the edge of a concrete patio, through the lawn, to the garden entrance. It will run about 3’ wide alongside a landscaped area.

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Step 2:  Gravel

Prepare the ground, if necessary. If parts of your pathway are not being laid onto existing lawn, (e.g., dirt or gravel), remove excess surface area and rake smooth and level.

lay down the flagstone pieces for a walkway

Step 3: Lay down all flagstone walkway pieces

Lay out the flagstone pieces. You don’t want to get halfway done with your walkway and realize you should’ve used a different stone somewhere back behind, so we highly recommend laying out all your flagstone pieces before you do anything else. This takes a little more time and effort, but it ensures that the end result is exactly what you want.

Tip: Pay attention to the color, smoothness, and cut of each flagstone piece and strategically choose which side you want facing up.

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Step 4: Digging process

Dig around one piece of flagstone. Using a hand shovel, with the blade as vertical as you can make it, dig carefully around a flagstone piece. For this step, you’ll want to go deep enough to be able to remove the piece of lawn as though it were sod.

remove the sod for walkway

Step 5: Remove sod

Remove sod. Use a shovel (vertical blade) to go all around the sod, then lift it out. Lay the flagstone loosely in the hole to make sure it will fit.

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Step 6: Excess dirt

Remove excess dirt, down to 4”-6”. The end goal is to have the top of your flagstone piece lie level with the line of your lawn (the top of the ground before the grass blades shoot up). Removing 4”-6” of dirt, depending on the thickness of your flagstone, will allow you to add enough sand to provide a leveling surface for the flagstone.

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Step 7:  Use level

Pour 2”-4” of sand into the space. Smooth and level the sand evenly around the entire hole.

level the flagstone for a walkway

Step 8: Replace

Replace flagstone on top of sand. Check for level. Adjust the sand level as needed, whether that means taking the flagstone out and adding more sand to one are or removing sand to lower the flagstone overall. Replace flagstone. Repeat as needed until the flagstone lies flat and at the appropriate height.

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Step 9: Readjust

Step on flagstone, in multiple places, to ensure stability. If the flagstone moves or rocks at all, it is unstable and, therefore, unsafe. Readjust sand levels as needed until flagstone lies flat and securely on the ground, no matter where you step on it.

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Step 10: Continue the process for a flagstone walkway

Congratulate yourself on a job well done…then move on to the next one. Continue this process until all stones are set into the ground.

Tip: If you do have non-grassy areas where your flagstone path will go, we found the most efficient method to be: remove top few inches of surface matter (e.g., dirt), cover entire area with 2” of sand, and lay flagstone rocks down in previously determined arrangement. Remove as much sand as possible from between the flagstones, then cut and set sod strips between them. That is what you see in this photo by the hose hanger.

backyard flagstone walkway

There you are! A gorgeous flagstone pathway that guides you intuitively from Point A to Point B. Perfect for summertime outdoor enjoyment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How much does flagstone cost?

If you’re planning to pay for landscaping, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 per square foot. And that includes the base material, mortar, and labor. 

If you’re just buying the flagstone pieces, you’re looking at $2 to $6 per square foot.

How much does a pallet of flagstone cost?

Pallets of flagstone weigh around three to four tons. And one pallet covers approximately 200 to 500 square feet depending on the dimensions of the stone. You can expect to pay $0.20 to $0.60 per pound averaging between $600 to $2500 per pallet. 

Where to Buy Flagstone Near Me

Most local and commercialized hardware stores sell flagstone. You’re sure to find it at a Home Depot, Lowes, or WalMart. If you want to buy flagstone locally, you can check out nearby garden and plant nurseries.

What is the best material to put between flagstones?

There are various materials you can use between flagstone. Sand is more common to use between the stones. But the trouble with sand is getting it to stay in place. Any types of small rocks or crushed gravel will work to fill in the gaps. You can also use mulch or any lightweight wood chunks in between the stones.

A Flagstone Walkway is a Gorgeous Addition to Your Home

Pathways are a primary focal point that you and your visitors will see. Flagstone walkways are appealing and inviting. And not to mention reasonable to install. Transform your home’s exterior with this step-by-step process to install your flagstone walkway.