When it comes to getting the most from flagstone patios or walkways, there are many options and components a homeowner should consider that go beyond simply color. Flagstone is often the best choice for an outdoor walkway or patio because it is so attractive, durable, maintenance-free, versatile and adaptable. Flagstone blends well with almost any type of outdoor decor, from formal to rustic.
While flagstone patios and walkways are timeless and easily maintained, the hardscape elements and landscaping plants you choose to accent the overall look can help personalize the space and make the difference between “meh” and “marvelous.” Once you’ve decided on your construction, plants and personalization, you can contact our expert team of masons to bring your vision to life.
Pick your flagstone construction method
There are two main methods of building a flagstone walkway or patio. You’ll need to learn about both the excavate and elevate construction methods to decide which one will work best for you.
Both steps begin with staking out the area where the patio will be built. We account for a slight grading away from the home to ensure drainage: 2 inches for every 10 feet away from the home.
The Excavate Method
If the patio will lay about the same grade as the ground around it, we have to first dig out the area so we can lay the foundation for the patio. We dig about 3 inches. If the area drains poorly, we may dig further so we can place 3 inches of well-packed gravel below our patio foundation. Then we create the foundation itself out of stone dust.
The Elevate Method
If the patio will be above the grade of the lawn, we need to build up to it by adding soil and other materials to the sides of where the patio will be. Once we have 3 inches of raised ground around the area, we can fill in with 3 inches of stone dust to create the foundation.
Whichever method we choose, the next step is to begin laying the flagstone. We tap the flagstone in place with a hammer and wood block, compacting the stone dust beneath it. If it moves too far below our planed patio grade, we take up the stone and fill in with more stone dust.
Hardscape elements that work well with flagstone patios can include retaining walls, benches and even water features. These options add to the overall beauty and increase the functionality of your new patio. But it’s the plants you choose to accent each feature, or the entire flagstone patio, that really tie everything together and bring out the softer side of your space.
When choosing plants to accent your flagstone patio or walkway, decide if you want plants that will function as a border or work in a more free-flowing manner by filling the spaces between flagstones, creating visual interest between each stone. You should choose plants that will grow well in the location of your walkway or patio. Drought-resistant plants will not thrive in damp spots, and plants that do well in damp or shady places will suffer in sunny, dry spots.
A fun new trend is the use of “step-able” plants to edge individual stones. Step-able plants include low-lying plants that tend to creep along the ground rather than grow vertically. These plants often offer a lush accent to break up the overall look of flagstone and are a pleasant break from more traditional filler. Additionally, step-able plants are easily maintained, can assist with soil retention and work to minimize soil erosion between flagstones. You want plants that grow thick and short and won’t spill over onto the flagstone.
Popular “step-able” plants include mosses, ivies and herbs. Many of these plants are resilient in the face of foot traffic and can even be chosen specifically for their scent when walked on. Low-lying plants such as Corsican mint and creeping thyme are highly valued as accents to flagstone patios due to their attractive nature, seasonal flowers and pleasing scents.
If you’d rather have a uniform look and get a border, or even wall effect, around your flagstone patio, there are many beautiful plants that adapt wonderfully. One of the earliest bloomers in the spring, the vibrant forsythia can make an excellent screen surrounding your patio that will keep your spring and early summer days filled drops of sunshine. A more hedge-like, lower-lying option can be achieved with lavender. This herb is renowned not only for its exquisite smell, but also for its prolific purple blooms. Other exciting options can include everything from native, ornamental grasses to rich layers of hosta plants and more.
Personalize Your Flagstone
A simple walkway is great, but you can also expand on the concept and personalize your outdoor area even more. Here are a few ideas:
- Stairs made with flagstone can range from a basic, rough-hewn look to a more formal and elegant design.
- Make your garden more inviting with meandering flagstone pathways. You can even create your own private mediation spot by circling a bench with a flagstone path.
- Line an important flagstone walkway with orange LED lights to create a cozy atmosphere.
- Use different color step-able plants between your flagstones for a fun patchwork effect.
- Fill in the gaps between irregular flagstone pieces by creating small mosaic shapes with pebbles.
- Build your flagstone around a mosaic design that fits with a theme, like a tree on the path leading out to a garden or the night sky for an open patio with a firepit.
- Choose a color that transitions well from your home to your backyard. Flagstone can come in a variety of colors including blue, gray, red and beige.
For more ideas and to see the kind of quality work we do, check out our photo gallery of steps and walkways, or view our full gallery to see a variety examples of walkways, patios, retaining walls and water features that can be built by our experienced, talented masons. Contact us and let us help you start planning the outdoor living space of your dreams.