Patios, walkways, and stepping stones are part of our offerings too.
They just have to be real stone. We don't do any paver work, or anything with man made materials. Stone is my passion, and I've always felt that I would be wasting my time doing the same work that so many others are capable of doing.
Patios are a great addition to any yard because it enlarges your living space. The beauty of stone is it's timeless, not to mention will go good with just about any future home enhancement.
Our stone patios and walkways can be done several different ways.
1. It can be laid on a bed of gravel / paver base. The base is compacted, and the rock is pieced loosely on top. Once the stone pattern is set, the edges are concreted in. Once the concrete is dry, a decorative gravel is swept between the rocks to finish it. We will add a small amount of sand to the patio, and wash it in. This creates a solid, solid stone patio. This is the next best thing to concrete and grout.
2. It can be laid on regular potting soil. The bonus with doing it this way, is that you can put dwarf mondo grass in the cracks between all of the rocks. We still will concrete around the edges for stability. In time, the mondo grass will grow a solid root system locking the patio together sort of. While this is my favorite patio method, it is the least stable for the long term.
3. It can be laid in mortar on top of a solid concrete base. This is my second favorite stone patio construction method. It opens a huge amount of possibility to what you can do, and it tends to be flatter / wheel chair friendly. The other two stone patio types you need to use thick rock, usually 2" or thicker. By mortaring the stones to the base, you are able to use most flat rocks you can find. This brings some of the extremely flat rock, but very thin, into the possibilities. Mosaics are possible, better patterns. Maybe some stone tile to enhance it? Possibilities.
Believe it or not, there is an art to installing stepping stones.
A few things need to be considered when installing stepping stones.
1. You want to make sure the rock is thick enough to be stable and not move / crack when walking on them.
2. You want to make sure they are spaced correctly so when walking on them you take a step, there is a stone. You take another step, another stone, etc. (I learned that not everyone has my legs. One time I was really thorough in spacing the stones correctly and the client had a fit. He was shorter than me, but not by much. It seemed that he wanted to have it be like an obstacle course. The way I had to install the stones was very counter-intuitive, but as he wished.) *** Key lesson - Always check with the end user before setting all of the stones.
3. You want the stones to have a random type of placement based on size. For example, big first and last step. Big step coming off of another level. Big, small, big, medium, medium, small, big, big, medium, big, small. As you see, there is no pattern really, just randomness. What you don't want is, big, big, big, medium, medium, medium, small, small, small.
4. You want a good pattern. This is all in the way the stone is placed. It's just has to look good! Make sure each rock is spun to where it looks good to you, or the end user. I normally will set them out, then ask clients for feedback.
5. It's really all about the end user. One client may want all of the stones to be as square as possible, while a second client is looking for the more random shaped stone, the better.
Patterns are key when creating stone patios.
What we try to achieve with stone patios is a randomness that doesn't create lines. Like run a run on sentence, you don't want run on lines. Similar to when setting a stone wall. Two rocks side by side, and another one centered on top of the 2.
For example, when to stones are set, there is a line between them. When setting the next one, you should try to center it right at the top or bottom of the line. It is helpful to use multi-sized rock. It makes it easier to keep, "lines", from forming.