How to lay stepping stones in your garden

Richard Partington

Published on: 06 July 2020

Little girl walking on stepping stone garden path

A winning combination of pretty and practical, stepping stone paths can both take guests on a winding tour of your fantastical flora and lead a mud-free route to the tool shed.

And the best part? Laying a stepping stone path is an absolute cinch. All you need to do is follow our simple how to lay stepping stones guide and you’ll be enjoying the pathway perks in just a matter of hours.

Continue reading, below, to take the first step on your paving project.

Prepare the path

Digging a trench to lay stepping stones

The first job when laying your stepping stone path is also the most important: digging your trench. Stepping stones will become loose and move around without a well-prepared trench, so you’ll want to get this bit right.

What you need to prepare a path to lay stepping stones:

How to prepare a path to lay stepping stones:

  1. Begin by marking out the intended route of your stepping stones. You want to install the pegs at regular intervals along the designated path line.
  2. Before you start digging, check your stepping stones against the width of your trench by placing them in their proposed positions. Ensure that there’s enough space between the stones and edge of the trench.
  3. Then, put the stepping stones to one side and start digging out a trench within the area marked by wooden pegs. This trench should be 20mm deeper than the thickness of your stepping stones.
  4. Finish your path preparations by tamping down the soil surface of the trench, checking that it’s even with a spirit-level. Now you’re ready to lay your stepping stones!

Lay the stepping stones

A freshly laid stepping stone garden path

With the digging out of the way, it’s time to put your stepping stones in their final positions. 

But you can’t just throw them down and call it a day. There are a few vital steps to follow, below, that will ensure your stepping stones stand the test of time.

What you need to lay stepping stones:

How to lay stepping stones:

  1. First, you need to bind each stepping stone to the bottom of the trench. You can do this by spreading a 15mm layer of semi-dry mortar mix (5-parts sharp sand and 1-part cement) onto the intended position of your first stepping stone at the bottom of the trench. 
  2. Lay the stepping stone onto the mortar and then gently tap it down with a rubber mallet to secure it to the mixture. TOP TIP: The surface of the stepping stone should sit slightly below the top of the trench. That way, if you backfill the trench with soil and grass, you can mow straight over the stepping stone, rather than having to go around it.
  3. Repeat this process until all of your stepping stones have been laid into place.
  4. Now it’s time to backfill the rest of the trench. You can do this by either filling the gaps around your stepping stones with gravel, raking the surface until it’s even (which you can check with a spirit-level), or you can make the stones a part of your lawn. To achieve the latter, backfill the trench will soil and then plant grass seeds that will fill in the gaps between the stones. TOP TIP: For the best results, sow your garden seeds in either spring or early autumn, as that’s when the soil is moist and warm.
  5. And just like that, you have laid an attractive stepping stone path through your garden. Nice work!

Now you know how to lay stepping stones, you’re ready to pick out the stones that best suit your garden. Head over to Simply Paving to browse our range of stepping stones or get in touch with us on 0800 032 6306 or start a live chat.