Sand-Set Flagstone Patio

Add rough-hewn character and country quality to your home with a flagstone patio.


A flagstone patio lends its rough-hewn character and country quality to an outdoor design and looks at home in almost any landscape.

One aspect of its construction sets it apart from other materials -- its pattern. No two flagstone installations are the same because of the variety of the stone. Your best bet is to dry-lay the stone on the grass beside the site, selecting pieces from the pile and moving them around until the pattern satisfies you.

Purchase a variety of sizes and shapes. An entire site set with flagstones of approximately the same size looks unnatural. A variety also provides options when you're looking for the right stone to fill a space.

When you lay out your trial pattern, try to set stones with corresponding outlines next to each other -- concave next to convex. Cut them if necessary.

Stonework is not easy. Work slowly and make breaks part of the schedule.


About 8 to 12 hours to excavate and set a 10x10-foot patio

Round-nose shovel, rototiller, spade, garden rake, 2x4 lumber, small sledgehammer, power tamper, rubber mallet, brick set, soft broom, garden hose, carpenter's pencil

Cutting stone, laying stone, laying out square lines

Prepare site

Stones, bedding sand, mason's sand, gravel, landscape fabric

Step 1

Lay out and prepare the site. To set stone paving for the best visual effect, lay out the stones next to the patio site. This leaves the bed undisturbed and gives you more working room. Start with large stones on the perimeter and fill in with smaller stones, cutting to fit or for the best aesthetic effect.

Step 2

Once you devise an attractive layout, place the stones in the same relative positions on the sand bed, keeping the joints about 1/2 inch wide. Bed the stones with a rubber mallet. To work with your weight on the surface, kneel on a 2-foot plywood square.

Step 3

After setting a 6-foot square, use a straightedge or level to check the stones for level. If a stone is too high, pick it up and dig out sand beneath it. Add sand to raise low stones. Test each stone to make sure it doesn't rock.

Step 4

You can finish the patio with sand. Spread a thin layer of sand on the stones and sweep it into the joints with a soft-bristle broom. Mist the surface and sweep in more sand. Repeat misting and sweeping in sand until the sand in the joints is level with the stones.

For Planting Between Stones
If you want to put low-growing plants between the stones, shovel soil into the joints. Spray the surface to wash the excess soil into the joints. Fill in low spots, spray again, and repeat until the soil is about 1/8 inch below the edges. Plant the gaps with grass, moss, or a groundcover to discourage weeds.

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