Flagstone path: help me understand base material/plants in gaps?
I am hoping you can advise on this DIY path project.
I am planning a fairly casual path thought the lawn. I have gathered nearly enough flagstones/slate pieces from Craigslist and Freecycle, yay! At my last home, I made a short, straight path, with a gravel and sand bed, flagstones bedded with concrete. This new path is much longer, curving, and less formal. I need to figure out the best, cheapest, easiest plan for setting these stones.
I know the "best" plan will not be the cheapest and easiest, so am hoping for advice on a good compromise. The yard is very heavy clay soil topped with a couple inches of crappy loam and grass.
1) Lay stones directly in the grass, cutting around each and putting a couple inches of sand or fines underneath each.
2) Cut out the sod in the path area. Excavate and lay a bed of some kind... (advice on what's really necessary appreciated!) Then lay stones and plant groundcover between them. My question about that is: how will the groundcover grow if there's a really deep bed of sand and gravel underneath it?????
I understand the purpose of the bed... to increase drainage and limit frost heaving. But is that to the detriment of the plants growing between the pavers? Is there a compromise?
If the spaces are just filled with crushed granite or something, not plants, (which would look fabulous at first, I think!) I suspect weeds will soon begin to grow there and need regular maintenance. Is that correct?
So--- if that's right I'd want to plant something. Either grass seed, or preferably something that won't encroach the edges of the stones as much as grass does. Any suggestions?
I have a supremely limited budget and about a million other house renovation projects competing for my time, so my new path probably won't be the optimal thing.... but I would rather have something somewhat nice now than wait several more years for the perfect thing.
Any advice appreciated!