Return to the Gardening with Stone Forum | Post a Follow-Up

flagstone an entire backyard... Help!!

Posted by mercerdn 5a (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 2, 05 at 10:53

Help! I plan to flagstone my entire backyard (with the help of a few friends) and have been researching the best way to go about it. The reason I choose flagstone is because I have two dogs who love their backyard... but also love to dig. Every spring my yard is one large, muddy mess!

I plan to lay the flagstone with enough spacing to allow for groundcover, but small enough so that those paws can't get between the flag. I have read various ways to lay a patio but have seen nothing on how to tackle an entire backyard.

I was thinking of tilling the soil a couple of inches, mixing it with some sand and tamping it down. Its sounds simplistic, but is this the way I would do the entire yard? Because I will not be creating just a patio, I have no idea how deep I should till or, once I start laying the flag, where should I start? Would it be better to start at the edge of my property (which is entirely fenced) or in the middle?

For further information... my yard is fairly level, has good drainage and is mostly shaded due to a large maple tree that is just to one side of the yard. The yard is fenced on three sides and the fourth is bordered by my house and a large wooden deck.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: flagstone an entire backyard... Help!!

I am no pro, but a few potential issues come to mind:

First, you may want to check with your local government to see if there are rules/restrictions on what percentage of your property can be paved. In my county, it's something like 30% of non-house footprint max.

Second, even if your yard appears to be "well-drained" now, by paving this much area you will be sharply reducing absorption/increasing runoff, even if you leave spaces between the stones. You will need to ensure proper slope and underlayment to the paved areas to avoid puddling/ prevent erosion in those gaps/ keep water from being channeled towards your house foundations.

Third, flagstone reflects sun and gets pretty hot underfoot, and can get slippery if wet. Flagstone with dog-leavings sound even slipperier, and all that rock might be hard on your dogs' legs.

How about combining flagstone patio areas with other more ecofriendly paving? There are perforated paving systems (often used for driveways and the like) which allow percolation and plant growth and would still keep your hounds from digging. Or try deeply-bedded woodchips in some areas, especially under your maple tree?


RE: flagstone an entire backyard... Help!!

  • Posted by KarinL Vancouver Z8 (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 18, 05 at 21:18

I certainly wouldn't till first as you will only loosen the soil and create a soft bed on which you are bound to get lots of shifting flagstones. Use the compaction you have by skimming off the amount of dirt you need to remove.

However, I would second the concerns voiced about doing the whole yard. Why not do half or a third, and see if it actually performs as you think it will?

RE: flagstone an entire backyard... Help!!

I recently had a flagstone patio and wide path put in my yard. It was laid on 1 to 2 inches of sand spread on the existing compacted clay soil. Two big problems came up - the sand between the pavers largely washed away immediately, and earthworms have taken to tunnelling between the pavers, making a big mess. And it's already starting to shift, after only a year. We're going to have to redo it.

If you do go with pavers, they should be set on a bed of 4 inches of compacted gravel, topped with 2 inches of compacted sand. Then sand or a sand/earth mixture (if you want to plant a groundcover) between them. A lot more work, but otherwise you're going to have some problems.

Another issue you may run into is the large, shallow root system of the Maple tree. We had to raise the patio area to go over it.

I second the idea of a perforated paving system. Should discourage digging but would be friendly underfoot. Maybe you could set in a smaller patio near the house, and use one of the paving systems that allow grass to grow through for the rest.

Good luck! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Turf Pavers

RE: flagstone an entire backyard... Help!!

  • Posted by Symple z5a Canada (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 25, 05 at 13:17

Use crusher fines for level and set of stone, not sand. Mortar outside edge of pad at sharp angle using Portland cement, crusher fines, and sand. Use polymeric sand between joints once your stone level is set, then spray with water.
Soil is precious, please don't leave it under the pad if it is healthy. Use a small machine, strip it, and trade it to a neighbour without dogs for the equivalent volume of road-base (sand and crushed rock) that should be at least 4 inches thick under those flagstones.
Use plate tamper to compact base properly, consider drainage and grade when setting string lines, and maybe plan a shade spot on pad when planning because shadows on flagstone are a beautiful thing in the afternoon sun.
Finally, don't start cutting your flagstone because it is very hard work, and blades are extremely expensive, just have an agreement with supplier that you can return unwanted stones that were included in pallet.

RE: flagstone an entire backyard... Help!!

  • Posted by vanJ So.Cal (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 17, 05 at 11:41

We just landscaped our entire backyard and about 70% of it is in flagstone with two types of thyme planted between the pavers. Our landscaper did not do anythings special with laying the flagstone. We did bring in a lot of fresh dirt and just laid the flagstone down slightly raised above the ground to accomondate the growth of the thyme. We have no problems with the flagstone being slippery but they do get a bit hot in the summer due to the iron in the stone. I would also suggest installing a good drainage system. Van

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Gardening with Stone Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here