If you have ever looked into high end landscape installations, you will find that the products are of a natural quality. Man made products are an antithesis to landscaping. The purpose of landscaping is to be in nature. This is why high end landscapes typically use flagstone for the patio and walkways. High end landscapes most often use select flagstone. Select pieces are much larger than average. Then, moss or thyme is planted in flagstone cracks. Moss and Thyme keep out weeds, hold the stones in place, and flower tiny beautiful flowers. Elfin Thyme is preferred because it grows very dense and low to the ground.
To complete this project you will need, a strong back, shovel, pick, boots, gloves, level, two by four, large mason chisel, mini sledge hammer, helper, and a skill saw with diamond blade. You may also need metal landscape edging, bender board, and stakes.
Select stones are quite striking. There are shades of glittery gray, brilliant white, deep red, feathery blue, and tortoise green. They somehow shimmer back at you in a friendly way. You can create quite a masterpiece by using multiple stone colors, shapes, and hand picking unique stones. Irish Moss and Elfin Thyme soften the hard stone, cool it, and bring in natural beauty.
You can expect to pay around $5.00 per square foot installing yourself. Contractors charge $10.00 to $15.00 per square foot (including material).
How To Install
Dig Out Dirt
First, if necessary, dig out the dirt. Stake out the patio edges and decide how high the patio can be. In most cases, you will need to dig down six inches. The stone will be 2 inches, the gravel base will be 2 inches, and the sand will be two inches.
Install Edging (Optional)
Use metal landscape edging or bender board to hold the edges in place. This step is purely optional. The larger select stones will stay in place well without the edging. Edging is more necessary if you use smaller patio stones.
After you dig out the dirt make sure the base is compacted well. You can rent a plate compacter from a construction rental store or you can use a hand tamper. Once the base is compact, add two inches of gravel or road base and compact again.
Gravel And Road Base
For larger jobs road base is the best way to go. State spec road base is a combination or gravel and dirt. It compacts really well to make roads and will work well for your patio. In any case, you can also use fine gravel. The finer gravel will compact tighter and be easier to work with. You should use coarse gravel because it will compact better. Coarse pea gravel is a good choice.
The stones are not uniform. You need sand to adjust for stone height. Add 2-3 inches of sand on top of the compacted base. Make sure the sand is coarse. Like gravel, coarse sand compacts better.
You will need at least two people to lift and place the stone. Use a mini sledge hammer and blue mason chisel with a yellow hand guard to break the stone. This will give you natural breaks. You can also use a skill saw with a diamond blade, but the cuts will not look as natural. Wet saws will be too small to do anything for you. If you ordered correctly, you will have mostly large stones with some smaller stones. This will reduce the cutting time.
To see if the stone is level, it is helpful to have a straight two by four. Lay it on the stone and look for depressions. You can also put a level on the two by four.
The stone should not be perfectly flat. A small slope is needed to help water run off the patio. Every foot of patio should have a ¼ inch slope (at least).
One ton of flagstone will cover approximately 80-125 square feet. There are many variables. Stone weight and thickness vary. Check with your stone yard for the exact kind of stone you wish to purchase. Most flagstones will cover 125 square feet with one ton. One variable is the gap between stones. For best results, order select stones. A lot of people throw in some smaller patio stone to fill in smaller gaps. It's a little less expensive and you don't have to break up the larger stone.
One ton will cover approximately 80 square feet in a two inch depth.
One ton will cover approximately 124 square feet in a two inch depth.
Length * Width * Height / 27 = Yards Then, each product will weigh a different amount. You should use a different multiplier for each product. A rule of thumb is to use 1.5. So take the yards and multiply by 1.5 to get the tons that you need. There will be more tons than yards. Sand has a multiplier of 1.2 and gravel has a multiplier of 1.4. Flagstone will be around 1.5.
You can also choose a polmeric sand to put between the stone cracks. It looks like sand, but with three light water applications it will dry as hard as concrete. If you have an unstable area, you can install the flagstone on dry cement. Then, water the cement down so that it will harden and cure properly.