Building a Flagstone Patio or Walkway in Victoria BC in 2022
As a landscaper in Victoria BC, we’ve definitely noticed flagstone patios and walkways as a favorite among its residents. They are a beautiful addition to any residence and can be seen in many homes. One of our favorites was a home that had these beautifully colored stones but that also had a bit of sparkle to them. There were perhaps tiny quartz crystals embedded in the stone that were absolutely gorgeous. In this article, we will briefly go over how to install a flagstone patio or walkway.
First we will want to excavate around 6”-7” down. 4” for the base material, 0-1” for a sprinkle of stone dust, and around 1.5-2” for the flagstone themselves. The dirt if loose should be compacted with a plate compactor. At this point, you may also decide to put down landscape fabric. Our opinion on the landscape fabric is that it’s an environmental hazard that often doesn’t prevent weeds as seeds are often blown in on top and not protrude from below. The next stage is to apply around 4” of stone dust or screenings. This is essentially a mix of small pieces of gravel and a lot of fine particulates. Ensure that the mixture is as flat as possible and at the correct pitch for drainage purposes using a hard rake also known as a landscape rake. It is crucial to get this part right as this will set the foundation for your stones. Once it is flat, without bumps, and is the correct depth as well as pitch, spray with water to moisten the mix but without pooling. Then use a plate compactor to compact. You should discover that you have a very solid surface. In fact, this mixture is often used in public parks for walkways, driveways, and patio areas. It is a very durable and cost effective way to build these structures and has great longevity.
At this point you may choose to add another layer of stone dust. This would act as a cushion for the stones kind of like sand for paver bricks. This makes it easier to install the stones and it is important NOT to compact this layer. When laying the stones, mix up the sizes and patterns and do not leave large gaps. It will take some time to fit the jigsaw puzzle together. A hammer is sometimes needed to break up certain pieces to make things fit better. Do not spend too much time on any one section. If you can’t find a good fit, move on and come back to it. Use a regular hammer to break corners off as needed but a deadblow hammer to hammer the pieces into the stone dust.
Once this is completed, you should be left with some gaps. Fill the gaps with stone dust. Sweep it in using a push broom. The stone dust or screenings will keep the stones from drifting and moving sideways or laterally. For the very edge, you can build a border or use an edge restraint used for pavers to keep the stones from moving. They can be buried and hidden out of sight. Do not compact at this stage as it can crack the stones.
While some people choose to use sand, screenings or stone dust are superior as they are larger and heavier and thus less likely to wash out. It is thus recommended to use only screenings. They can be found at your local gravel yard.
Installing flagstone is not so difficult but can be time consuming. Coordinating all the material delivery can also be quite costly from the stones to the screenings and dumping the excess soils. However, in the end it’s all worth it. The natural almost rustic look really adds to the appeal of any property for both its owners as well as any guests. They are truly a great landscaping feature to any home.