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Five stepping stone pavers set into a gravel path

Overview

Stepping stones can make a great design statement in your garden and are a good way to minimise wear on your lawn. They're easy to lay yourself and we'll show you how. In just a few steps, you'll learn how to mix the mortar and fix the stones into place. We're making a path for a formal garden, but the same techniques also apply for other garden styles.

Steps

1Dry lay stones

Dry laying is when you place the stepping stones on the ground without actually fixing them to the surface. This helps work out how far apart each stone should be. To determine the correct distance, make the stones a stride length apart. 

A person lifting a paver from a stack with other pavers laid out along a gravel path

2Measure the width

To get a neat, even appearance for the path, measure an equal amount of distance either side of the stones. 

A person with a paver measuring the width of a gravel path

3Make a string line

At one end of the path, line up a post with the outside edge of the last stone. Hammer it into the ground with your mallet.

A person using a sledgehammer to insert a star picket in a gravel path

4Insert a second pole

At the other end of the path, insert another pole into the ground, on the same line as the first pole.

A person using a sledgehammer to insert a star picket in a gravel path

5Roll out the line

Now tie your string to one post and roll it out to the other pole. Tie your string to that pole, making sure there is some tension in the string.

Pavers regularly spaced along a string line on a gravel path

6Line up the stones

One by one, press all of your stones up against the string so that they're aligned.
A person placing a paver along a string line on a gravel path

7Mark the paver positions

Mark the positions of your stones by spray painting the ground around the corners of each stone. Make sure you don't spray the top of the stone.
A person marking the ground with spray paint at the corner of a paver

8Dig the holes for the stones

Once you've completed marking the ground, remove all of your stones and start digging holes between those marks. The holes should be a bit deeper than the height of your stones. 
A person digging a hole in a gravel path

9Mix the mortar

Put on your safety gear and mix up the mortar in a wheelbarrow with your spade. You should use 5-parts sand to 1-part cement. Use enough water so that the mortar sticks to the spade. 
A person mixing mortar in a wheelbarrow using a spade

10Fill the holes with mortar

Using your spade, fill the holes with mortar. Make sure there's enough mortar so that the stones will be level with the ground.

A person shovelling mortar from a wheelbarrow into a hole dug in a gravel path

11Lay the pavers in the holes

Now, take each stone and put them back into the holes to set in the mortar. Make sure they're level with the surface of the ground and lined up with the string line. 
A person lowering a paver into a hole in a gravel path

12Level the stones

Use your spirit-level to check and tap the stones into place. Check levels in both directions. 
A person using a rubber mallet and spirit level to position a paver set into gravel

13Backfill around the stones

Backfill around all of the stones. Then leave to dry for 24 hours before you walk on them.
Five stepping stone pavers set into a gravel path

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.