Love the timeless appeal of natural materials? Then these flagstone walkway ideas will help you transform your garden for years to come. With their gently pitted surface, worn edges and individual tones and markings, it’s hard to beat these hefty sections of stone for sheer durability and stunning good looks, so do try and work them into your design where possible.
Choose from formal walkways lined with majestic planters and low hedging or try a more contemporary take by dotting stone flags through a gravel bed or woodland border.
The good thing about choosing these paving stones for your garden path ideas is that you don’t need many to make a bold impression. Just a few strategically placed – as stepping-stones bridging a rill or informal stream or leading from open lawned area to a secluded seating spot – can alter the mood and prove irresistibly inviting, encouraging visitors to explore the space.
Add style and substance with these 11 flagstone walkway ideas
Level up your backyard with our favourite flagstone walkways – these design tricks are sure to inspire you to take a fresh look at your paving ideas this season and beyond.
1. Use the same flagstones for paths and steps
Create a cohesive look for your landscaping ideas by sticking to a simple combination of colors and materials.
In the stunning Morris & Co garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022, classic Yorkstone flagstones have been used for pathways that meander through the planting, with the same material used for garden steps to link different levels within the space. Opting for these neutral-colored flagstones allows the eye-catching planting to really take center stage.
If you want to take it a step further, use the same materials for other garden structures, such as garden walls and patios, to enhance the timeless aesthetic. Subtle path lighting hidden amongst the planting is a must if you want to ensure you can highlight the materials at night.
2. Edge a flagstone walkway with clay pavers
Celebrate the individual beauty of reclaimed materials with a distinctive design for your flagstone walkway ideas. Highlight their subtle variations in tone, markings and shape by planning paths banded with clay pavers.
Contrasting in color and size, these rich red bricks are the perfect complement to the large flat stone slabs and can be used to ‘draw’ outlines and central, textured panels amongst the stone paved area.
3. Create a paved mosaic with irregular flagstones
Give a walkway character by using flagstones to create a giant mosaic panel. With the emphasis on their varying shapes and texture, team with two or three materials that complement the color of the flagstones but offer contrasting shapes and textures.
The owners of this Prairie-style home asked Ginkgo Leaf Studio (opens in new tab) for an updated landscape that combined an Asian garden feel with a Mid-Century aesthetic.
'We designed a new front walk in a combination of concrete and bluestone,' says James M. Drzewiecki. 'The square of irregular bluestone was placed on axis with the front door while a concrete patio was added off the front porch for informal seating. Bluestone steppers were placed along the edge of the driveway within slate chip mulch, to enhance accessibility along the driveway edge. A simplified palette of flowering perennials, grasses and shrubs fill the planting beds surrounding the new walkway and patio.'
4. Design a flagstone walkway with broken edges
When considering your flagstone walkway ideas, remember that they don't have to be super straight, so add some personality by staggering the flagstone edges to create interesting paver patterns.
The art is to go for a jagged arrangement without it becoming a definite zig-zag. Plant right up to the sides of the paving with turf or low ground cover plants and grasses to emphasize the simple yet stunning effect.
Landscape designer Scott Brinitzer (opens in new tab) showcases this idea in a recent front yard landscaping project. ‘The garden directly in front of the house features a limestone flagstone walkway passing through a zoysia grass lawn. As the walk nears the sidewalk, it is bordered by gumdrops of Green Velvet boxwood and dwarf Japanese mondo grass. The simplicity of the front garden, a study in different greens and textures, provides the surrounding perennial with a clean and neat framework that helps the property look tidy no matter the season.’
5. Focus on accessible design with level walkways
Formed over time from layers of sand, particles and other natural debris, these sedimentary rocks often referred to as flagstone include both sandstone and limestone.
‘Flagstone is a flat stone that traditionally was laid out as part of paths and roads,' say the experts at Westminster Stone (opens in new tab). 'Traditionally it takes the form of sedimentary stones like sandstone, however, several other rocks have also been used in the same way and mistakenly called flagstone.’
Exceptionally durable and each with their own distinct patterns and layers, they are the perfect paving choice when accessibility and practicality is key. Essentially flat and usually found in a large format, they are great for covering wide open areas, including seating areas next to the house and pathways.
Designers Debbie Roberts and Ian Smith of Acres Wild (opens in new tab) recognised the importance of this when planning the accessible garden design for a client in Sussex, UK. ‘The garden was designed as a family garden first and foremost, but one that also happens to be fully accessible, engaging and stimulating for the youngest member of the family who has a degenerative illness,' says Debbie.
'With the aim to create an English country garden to complement the house, the surroundings now feature wider than average walkways and no steps, enough space for easy negotiating in a wheelchair and an environment with a variety of spaces, routeways and destinations to be enjoyed at different times of the day.’
6. Patchwork paths with reclaimed flagstones
Take a tip from the RHS Chelsea’s Brewin Dolphin show garden and mix and match your materials for a stunningly beautiful cheap paving idea. Championing sustainability and designed to show how brownfield sites can be rehabilitated using existing and repurposed materials, this garden is brimming with take-home ideas.
Leading into the heart of the garden, this short length of walkway is a joyful and artistic patchwork of stone flagstones, reclaimed clay pavers and stone chippings, softened with exquisite wild-style planting.
Most impactful when used in a small, concentrated area, work out how best to place and arrange your different types of paving and make sure the sub soil is level and compacted before settling them in place.
7. Create a zen-style walkway
Large flagstones along with other elements such as rocks, stone and gravel play a key role in Japanese garden ideas. Symbolic of earthly and spiritual forces, their thoughtful placement has significant meaning.
Ian Smith, Designer at Acres Wild explains, ‘Japanese gardens are all about abstraction of nature in an artful manner which appears to be natural but is in fact highly controlled and considered.’
Landscape designer Rick Everett at Kirman Design (opens in new tab) also adds: ‘Creating a successful Japanese garden or arrangement within your garden hinges on authenticity. Take the time to study how and why ornaments, rocks and plants are traditionally positioned in original Japanese gardens.’
Known as Shiki ishi, the art of creating stone walkways from split or ‘dressed’ stone is a precise and skilful art, that can create breathtakingly beautiful results. Setting large rectangular flagstones amongst smaller and irregular rocks, pebbles or slabs often symbolises the movement of water and the flow of a river or life force. Stone plinths placed at right angles represent bridges and, along with entrances and gateways mark the transition of passing from the earthly and everyday world to the tranquil and spiritual space beyond.
If you are looking to add some serenity and beauty to your outside space, then these centuries old design concepts for landscaping with rocks are well worth exploring. Look carefully at your plot and see if you can create new walkways and vantage points. Suggest a change of pace by varying the scale and position of your chosen paving, using flagstones as places to pause.
8. Highlight the charm of stone with planting
Heighten the beautiful pale hues found in flagstone walkways with sympathetic planting in your garden borders. Carefully choosing foliage, bark and blooms in standout shades of white and silver makes a real impact and, together with the light grey stone path gives the garden color scheme a delicate and ethereal feel.
Soft billowing plants such as cow parsley, dianthus, low growing phlox and salvias spill out onto the flagstone walkway, and the plot is punctuated with two symmetrical stately lines of Himalayan birch, help to integrate the hard landscaping into the surroundings. Wide lime pointing between the flags also adds to the magical effect.
9. Go for flagstones with a contemporary edge
Indian sandstone is revered for its high quality, smooth grain and cheerful array of rich, warm tones. A great way to bring color and interest to a shady garden that can look a little bland in dull weather, it is an affordable and modern paving idea for many.
A sedimentary rock formed on the seabed over millions of years from compressed layers of different coloured sands, it has stunning natural veining, which only looks better when wet.
Recently quarried Indian sandstone flags come in a variety of different finishes and edge styles. From crisp diamond cut sides to softer, tumbled and hand-hewn slabs, it’s easy to find a paving style that will suit your chosen garden design ideas.
10. Weave a flagstone walkway amongst the planting
Commanding in scale and texture, individual flagstones will make a statement when used as a bold stepping stone idea in any style garden. Ideal for creating winding walkways, they naturally encourage visitors to explore the space and experience different aspects of the plot.
Use this power of intrigue by weaving them in a looping fashion through your garden. Aim to stagger them slightly, rather than as a continuous line, and position plants and structures between them to obscure sight lines and add to the sense of mystery.
Designer Peter Reader of Peter Reader Landscapes (opens in new tab) employs this concept beautifully in this wildlife garden. ‘The client was going to be largely working from home and so a lovely garden as the view from the garden office was clearly a priority. They also enjoyed having the garden partly divided as it created more interest and a journey to the office each day. This gravel garden concept also suited the clients' wish for the garden to have naturalistic planting with tall grasses and perennials.’
11. Design a break-away flagstone path
Highlight the charm of stone flagstones by using them en masse for both your patio ideas and for a break-away walkway that leads off across the lawn or border, into the garden. An ideal way to soften the boundaries between hard and soft landscaping, it’s a simple but effective design trick to unify a large-scale plot.
Continuing subtle detailing – such as a brick bond or staggered laying pattern – from the patio through to the stepping-stone style path, adds to the top-end finish and lends a softer, informal feel to the overall garden.
What is the best material to put between flagstones?
Sand is most often used to fill the gaps between newly laid stones as it allows water to drain through and prevents weeds from growing, but there are other options, depending on the finished look you want.
Landscaping with gravel is an option as it can be brushed between newly laid flags and is great for adding a contemporary note that emphasizes the stone’s smooth finish and markings, but getting the right size is key. Large grade aggregates can leave unsightly gaps, spill out on to the stones and encourage weeds to push through. A better option is to go for 1/4 inch minimum crushed gravel, which can be pounded into the joints, leaving a smart, clean-looking result.
Commercial brush-in grouts are another option for your flagstone walkway ideas. A speedier choice than traditional pointing, they are usually come pre-mixed or in two parts – one containing epoxy resin and the other an epoxy hardener.
How can you keep a flagstone walkway looking good?
While moss and creeping plants such as mind-your-own-business and thyme may look charming growing between your flagstones, there may be a time when you prefer your paving to sport a clean and fresher look.
Treating flagstone walkways to a good, thorough clean will work wonders, either working with an acid-free, strong stone detergent or patio cleaner and some hefty scrubbing with a broom or blitzing the job with one of the best pressure washers.
'We recommend you angle the jet at 30˚ and spray diagonally, on a medium pressure,' says the experts at Beswick Stone (opens in new tab). 'However you choose to clean your flagstone walkway, always make sure the cleaning products are rinsed away thoroughly.’
Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey, England, and spends much of her time writing about them too.
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