Simple path for side yard
We're planning to re-do the side yard this fall with a path leading from one end to the other. This path is the one we take from the patio to the shed and trash cans at the far end. Last year, we laid about 2 dozen stepping stones (the type that are perfectly round with small smooth stones embedded in cement on the top) down the middle of the path on bare soil, just to have a place to step when the soil is wet. Our soil is heavy clay and so far we have not had any flooding issues in this area even in a very rainy winter.
We want this area to be casual and informal. I have in mind a meandering path with these stones down the middle, and ground cover (perhaps Thyme) in between, bordered by small round rocks (5-6 inches or so in diameter).
I'm wondering if we really need to dig out about 4 inches of soil beneath the stepping stones for drainage. Admittedly, I am trying to take the easy path, but I don't want to have any serious regrets later. If we fill in the stepping stones where they currently lay with DG, and plant in between the stones, and border the path with stones, edging boards and plants, will that be sufficient?