Stepping stone walkways provide an easy way to establish a fantastic sense of flow in your garden and work brilliantly with various landscaping styles.
This guide will look at how you can incorporate a stepping stone walkway into your garden or outdoor living space - read on to learn more.
Stepping stone walkway inspiration
Whether you want to install a pathway that is safe for everyone to walk on or one that winds intricately through your garden’s planters and flower beds, stepping stones are a great option. With a huge range of different styles available to suit landscaping design schemes of all types and budgets, you’re sure to find one perfect for your garden. To help get you started, our team of garden design experts have curated 11 of the most on-trend ideas to kickstart your next project.
1. Create winding pathways through your garden beds
Placing a stepping stone pathway through your garden beds is an excellent way to add character to your outdoor space. Not only does this give you more access to certain areas of your garden, but you’ll also be able to enjoy an aesthetic inspired by the fantastical, magical atmosphere of woodlands. By laying the stepping stones in your preferred type of mulch, you can solve any drainage issues and enrich the soil as it breaks down over time.
2. Keep it consistent
For a sleek and clean look, make sure you maintain some consistency throughout your garden. Use the same textures for your kerbs and edging as you do for your stepping stones, as keeping to the same colour palette will ensure your end result will look and feel coherent. Contrasting colours or textures could mean that your garden design lacks consistency and feels more like a mish-mash of elements rather than one cohesive concept.
For example, when paving stone steps or patio areas, use the same stones that you will use for your stone walkway to create a consistent design throughout and ensure that each zone flows naturally into the next. This will result in a far more professional, elegant finish.
3. Use reclaimed stone or wood
Utilising reclaimed stone or wood for your garden paths helps the environment and adds some vintage charm to your garden.
For example, you could use:
Design a beautiful stone pathway using reclaimed stone pavers. This simple garden path will be a great addition to your garden, leading you from one section to another. For kitchen gardens, one idea is to plant some thyme or marjoram in the gaps between the pavers. This will maximise the potential of your space and add another sensory element to your garden.
Using old railway sleepers is a great way to create a soft and inviting garden path. Sleepers make for great large stepping stones and are an inexpensive way to make your garden pathway attractive. Intersperse the sleepers with gravel or pebbles to add contrast and texture whilst aiding drainage. If you're not sure about using reclaimed sleepers, you could try Marshalls-manufactured Woodstone® sleepers, which achieve the sought-after appearance of aged timber.
Another unique reclaimed material to use is wooden telephone poles. These can be used to line a path in whichever direction, though we’d recommend laying them horizontally. Alternatively, they can be used as wooden pavers when sliced into small rounds. Laying these round slices in a gravel path creates contrast and intrigue. You can surround the slices with ground cover or mulch for a softer look.
A brick walkway will add an aged feel while accentuating the natural beauty of the surrounding garden beds. Not only does this brick walkway look great, but it is also a fantastic way of making your landscaping concept feel more connected to the architecture of your house.
4. Add colour with custom paving stones
Whether you make your own mosaic, ceramic, or concrete stepping stones, or if you choose to purchase some unique pavers from a local manufacturer, custom garden paving stones are a great way to add colour to your garden path and will give the walkway a special flair.
For more great garden path ideas, read our helpful guide or contact our team for advice tailored to your requirements.
5. Experiment with patterns
Out of all the stepping-stone ideas, experimenting with patterns is the easiest way to make your garden feel unique. By incorporating a novel pattern into your landscape design, you'll be able to add some of your own personality into your stone walkways without spending too much time or money.
The possibilities with patterned stone pathways are endless, but if you’re struggling to get started, read through some of our favourite suggestions below:
Add visual interest to your garden by laying your stepping stones in circular patterns. Perhaps add a focal point, such as a small fountain or sundial, in the centre of the stepping stone circle. Circular design ideas are also great when paving around a fire pit. Larger stepping stones are best used in this instance.
An easy yet ultra-effective way to add a fun twist to your backyard is to have a section with a checkerboard pattern. In the empty spaces, you can plant colourful flowers and ground cover or turn it into an innovative herb garden to make the most out of every square inch of your outdoor space.
A mosaic-style stone walkway can be challenging, but the finished product will make it well worth the effort. Mosaic pathways are mesmerising, and installing one will make a lasting impression on anyone who visits your garden.
Use irregular stepping stones to create a patchwork design or various coloured stones to add images to your stone walkway. If you want a sharp, clean look, fill the gaps in with concrete. Otherwise, plant some short grass or ground cover in between the stones to add greenery and soften the overall look and feel of the pathway.
You'll be amazed at the range of patterns you can achieve with bricks. Upgrade your brick pathway by laying the paving in an elegant herringbone pattern, or create swirls by laying the bricks in circular configurations. Bricks are a fabulous way of creating an intricate edging feature to your pathway by framing larger paving stones with a more detailed design.
If you’re struggling to get hold of traditional clay bricks, cement bricks such as those produced by Marshalls are a fantastic alternative. They are often cheaper and more environmentally friendly than clay bricks whilst still offering a range of styles and finishes.
Explore our range of cement bricks to learn how to incorporate them into your garden design. Or take a look at our Alvanley Pavers for a herringbone effect option.
6. Vary textures along your garden path
An easy way to add variety and intrigue to your stone path is to use pavers with different textures. The overall look can remain consistent by sticking to the same colours. Another option is to combine wooden stepping stones with pea gravel and line the pathway with stones.
River rock slabs are a stunning way to add texture to your garden paths and create a natural feel when paired with a water feature.
7. Make a zen stone path
Incorporating a Japanese design concept into your garden can be achieved simply by laying a natural stone path with large pebbles and smooth stones. These paths are a wonderful addition to a rain garden and can double as channels for the rainwater to reach ponds, water features, and streams.
If you have a brook, pond, or natural pool in your garden, you can install large stones to create a path across the body of water. Match these to your chosen paving stones to give your oriental oasis a sleek, uniform appearance.
8. Greenify the walkway with plants
A wonderful way to create an enchanting garden path is to add vegetation and flowers wherever possible. Fill the gaps between the stones with grasses or flowering ground cover. Line the edges of the paths with border plants, choosing colours that complement your chosen paving stones.
When designing the pathway leading to your front door, think carefully about what plants you'd like to use to accentuate the walkway. Maintain consistency by using the same plants along your home's exterior in hanging baskets, plant pots and garden beds.
9. Add a path across the lawn
A large lawn can be a wonderful feature, but making sure that it’s visually interesting can be a challenge. Adding an embedded stone path across the lawn at strategic places is a great way to spruce it up whilst also helping to reduce foot traffic across your lawn.
We suggest observing the paths that are taken across the lawn most frequently and using those as your guides for where to lay the stones, otherwise you risk people ignoring the pathway and taking the scenic route instead.
10. Make your pathways accessible
If you'd like to make sure that your stepping stone path can be used by people of all ages and abilities, then it is best to ensure that you create a level stone path with a non-slip surface. This will ensure that it is accessible for your whole family, transforming it into a space for reconnecting with loved ones and making memories that last a lifetime.
If you'd like to have some undulating paths throughout your yard, you can still keep the area accessible. This can be achieved by ensuring that all the main garden paths or paths with the most foot traffic are paved with non-slip stone pavers and that the individual stones are level.
11. Use flagstone pavers
A well-designed walkway made using smooth flagstone is easy to clean and maintain, making it one of the more accessible materials used to create a stone path.
A flagstone walkway is a great addition to a highly manicured garden, as the straight lines of the stones will make your new walkway look sharp and chic. Remember to crown the pathway slightly when laying the slabs to ensure good water run-off into the surrounding flower beds and prevent flooding.
Make the perfect stepping stone walkway with Marshalls
Planning the right design for your garden can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. Here at Marshalls, our teams are on hand to help you through every step of the way. Whatever you’re trying to achieve with your next garden design project, we have the experience and expertise needed to make the whole process a success.
We offer a wide range of products for your garden, ranging from garden paving to driveway paving and much more.
For more information on how to lay stepping stones or if you’d like more inspiration for your garden, check out our other guides!
What is best to put under stepping stones?
The best materials to use when installing stepping stones are compacted soil, a fine aggregate (e.g. decomposed granite) and sharp sand. The aggregate should be laid on top of the compacted soil, and the sharp sand should be on top of the aggregate. The sharp sand is used for levelling the stones to ensure that your stepping stone pathway is safe.
What is the cheapest way to make a walkway?
If you want to create a natural walkway, the cheapest materials to use are mulch and gravel. These are great choices if you want to keep your construction simple, as they don't require much other than some landscape fabric and a border. They are also soft underfoot, which is an added bonus!
Can you lay stepping stones on just sand?
You can lay stepping stones using only sharp sand, but this is not the best solution as the stones could be unstable. In this case, landscapers recommend utilising stronger cement. If you choose to lay your stones on the sand, you'll need the layer to be 1.5cm deep, and you'll use a rubber mallet to level the stones. This method will work better on hard ground than on soft ground.