Stepping stone ideas: 11 playful ways to get around your plot

Looking for a pathway that's full of character and style? These stepping stone ideas have got you sorted

stepping stone ideas: pathway through flowing borders
(Image credit: Val Corbett/Future)

On the lookout for stepping stone ideas? They're a great choice if you want to add a bit of extra oomph to your pathways. From modern to country-cottage style gardens and everything in-between, stepping stones are one of those landscaping ideas that elevate any type of plot.

Lee Dunderdale, Product Manager at Bradstone agrees, saying that 'Stepping stones are a charming feature in any garden. Set in lawns and gravel or even in borders interspersed with planting, they offer a practical way to walk about your garden and add interest and character.'

From ornate, mosaic styles to contemporary designs and more, we've rounded up some of our favorite stepping stone ideas for you to peruse. Just keep scrolling to get inspired.

1. Weave a walkway through trees

stepping stone ideas: curved pathway between trees

(Image credit: Made By Pen)

Try weaving your stepping stone walkway around small trees to add a sense of wonder to your plot. That way, you'll feel like you're journeying through a lush forest whenever you pass by. 

There are plenty of textural ground covers you can surround them with, to enhance the woodland feel. Try Pachysandra terminalis for a reliable carpet of green with white, springtime flowers – it does well in shade so is ideal for carpeting the area beneath trees. The robust, vibrant green Herniaria glabra is a good alternative for lighter shade, whilst creeping thyme – another that grows in partial shade – is a beautifully fragranced option.There's more options in our best ground cover plants guide. 

Creative stepping stone ideas such as this are perfect for transforming a narrow strip at the side of the house, as demonstrated in the gorgeous design above. Looking for more inspiration? Take a look at our garden path ideas.

2. Go for clean lines

stepping stone ideas: modern garden with pathway across lawn towards house

This angular pathway complements the exterior of the house

(Image credit: Future)

If you're after a more contemporary approach for your stepping stone ideas, then take a look at the design above. This row of identically-cut stone slabs looks sleek and chic as it journeys across the lawn from the raised deck.

To recreate the polished look, be sure to consider your surroundings when planning your stepping stone ideas. Here, the clean, angular lines reflect the exterior of the house, creating a cohesive and well-balanced effect. What's more, as they're positioned alongside the border, they make a stylish impact without overly encroaching on the soothing stretch of green lawn.

Looking for similar styles? Head over to our modern garden ideas.

3. Surround with flowers

stepping stone ideas: pathway between two large flowering borders

Add a sense of romance to your stepping stone walkway ideas

(Image credit: Val Corbett/Future)

Position your stepping stone ideas through sumptuous borders for a heady dose of romantic charm.

Journeying down this walkway is bound to be a joy as the soft blooms cocoon up and around from either side. We love how the mounds of hardy geraniums and Alchemilla mollis provide a zing of summer color, and pollinators will adore the display, too.

Enhance the informal look with mismatched sizes of natural stone slabs, interspersed with gravel in a complementary tone. If you're a fan of our cottage garden ideas, then this may well be the stepping stone walkway idea for you.

4. Build across water

stepping stone ideas: path across pond designed by Tom Howard

Position steps across water for a tranquil vibe. Garden designed by Tom Howard Garden Design & Landscaping

(Image credit: Tom Howard Garden Design)

Water is always a lovely addition to a plot, reflecting the sun and offering soothing sounds and movement. But to elevate the relaxing ambience further, try incorporating a stepping stone walkway with your water feature ideas

Crossing over a small pond in this way will evoke a sense of mindfulness and exploration, making you feel more grounded and at one with the natural world. Use consistent shapes to tie the look together – angular lines, as seen here, add a contemporary touch. 

You could also add greenery in the form of rushes and reeds, or, for a pretty floral boost, try irises or the well-loved waterlily.

5. Go round and whimsical

stepping stone ideas: path leading to summer house

Stepping stone walkway ideas look great alongside a pretty summer house

(Image credit: David Giles/Future)

This pretty set-up is full of charm. Whilst the blue-hued summer house takes centre stage, the stepping stone walkway certainly helps to set the whimsical tone. 

Look closely and you'll notice that they're embossed with a vintage coin design, offering extra style points and adding to the fun, eclectic vibe.

Love the look? Take a look at our summer house ideas for more stunning designs.

6. Blend with your edging

stepping stone ideas: path that blends into edging in modern plot designed by Tom Howard Garden Design

(Image credit: Tom Howard Garden Design)

Garden edging ideas are a surefire way to make maintenance easier and a garden look sleeker. So, if you're after a streamlined look, why not blend your stepping stone walkway ideas with your bordering features?

Here, the pared-back paving elongates at points, to extend across the edges of flowerbeds and the raised deck. It's a straightforward design feature, yet feels undoubtedly modern and looks fabulous.

7. Use wooden stepping stone ideas around a hot tub

stepping stone ideas: small wooden steps in gravel

Use textured tiles for added interest

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb/Future)

If you're looking for a walkway to lead to and from your decking ideas, then this is a brilliant option.

The wooden tiles are ideal for protecting bare feet against spiky gravel in summer. What's more, their ridged texture provides a useful grip, so they work well around a hot tub or pool.

Add plenty of foliage – we love the ferns and bamboo used here – and accent the scene with a larger rock or two to amplify the natural vibe. You'll feel like you're in a luxury outdoor spa in no time. 

There's more inspiration for garden spas in our hot tub ideas

8. Create a pattern with different sizes of stone

stepping stone ideas: aerial view of pathway and steps

Get creative with your stepping stone ideas

(Image credit: Melanie Acevedo/Future)

For stepping stone ideas that are a feature in themselves, try arranging a variety of sizes in a fun pattern. It'll add plenty of visual interest to a plot and certainly gives a playful twist to the urban garden shown above.

Use the same material and tone to keep things looking considered. Pale hues create a striking contrast against a verdant lawn.

We're drawn to the pretty pink blossom here too, it's always a lovely feature for a garden. Take a look at our pick of the best flowering trees to get inspired for your own.

9. Use a mosaic design

stepping stone ideas: mosaic stones leading to steps and gate

Try a more ornate approach

(Image credit: Konstantin Trubavin/Getty Images)

Stepping stone ideas can be used to create an artsy, old-world vibe, especially when they follow a mosaic stone design. Here, they draw the eye to the ornate steps and gateway and help to build a sense of intrigue.

A feature like this would work well alongside bohemian garden ideas, which celebrate an eclectic mix of styles inspired by decorative designs and exotic locations.

10. Use gravel in-between each stepping stone

stepping stone ideas: gravel around stones

Mix up the materials for your stepping stone walkway ideas

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb/Future)

Stepping stone slabs don't have to be miles apart to make a stylish impact. Take these, for instance, which are slightly separated by lines of pale gravel. 

The mix of textures instantly makes the look feel more interesting and modern, especially when placed alongside sleek decking. Meanwhile, the difference in levels helps to define the garden's zones. It's a great way to liven up your paving ideas.

11. Try large, circular designs

stepping stone ideas: round pathway joining main path in modern garden

(Image credit: Boca do Lobo)

We adore these circular designs which gradually decrease in size as they join the main walkway. Offering a secondary trail across the plot, they evoke a sense of play. 

Their sculptural shape works beautifully in this artistic garden. Pale tones complement the other hard landscaping features, tying the look together well.

How far apart do you put stepping stones?

sensory garden ideas: water in lawn with stepping stone path

Stepping stones across a pond make a beautiful feature for this sensory garden

(Image credit: David Giles/Future)

When it comes to how far apart your stepping stones should be, Katy Black, Marketing Director at Verona says, 'This is completely up to you and whether you want to create a staggered natural effect, or a more uniform look.'

For symmetrical stepping stones, she suggests to allow 10-15cm distance between tiles, or simply space them to fit the length of your stride. 

If you're after a polished look, take the time to get the spacing consistent between each. 'You may be able to notice unevenly spaced stepping stones when looking out over your garden,' she says.

If you're using your stepping stone ideas as a walkway across a lawn and are worried about a muddy patch forming between each slab, Lee Dunderdale from Bradstone recommends to go slightly wider – around 300mm between each.

Can you just lay stepping stones on top of grass?

'Stepping stones should not be laid straight onto grass as they would most definitely cause a trip hazard and are likely to rock or move if not bedded properly,' advises Lee Dunderdale, Product Manager at Bradstone. 

'Just like a patio, you should first dig out your area for each stone and lay the stepping stones on a full mortar bed,' Lee adds. Take a look at our tips on how to lay a patio in our guide.

'When laying a stepping stone path in a lawn you need to make sure the stones are slightly below the level of the lawn by 10mm or so,' says Garden Designer Tom Howard. This makes mowing much easier, he explains, as you can just run the mower over the stone without the blades chipping it.