Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners

Flagstone Paths

Concrete flagstone walks may be made more attractive than ordinary concrete walks as described  by James E. Foster in The American Home. 

Before a flagstone walk is built, a plan of it is drawn. In this plan each stone is shown and its size  is determined. The home owner is thus able to cal-  culate the number of stones of each size he will re-  quire. 

Forms for the stones are made of 2 X 4's, nailed together to form a piece of framework having a thick-  ness of four inches. The individual forms can be made  to vary in size and shape. As a form is essentially an  area surrounded by three or more 2 X 4's, one board  can serve as a boundary for two forms and several  forms can be built into a single piece of framework,  if a little thought is given to the arrangement of the  2 X 4's. The finished forms are set, but not nailed,  on a platform made of 1-inch lumber. 

The concrete for flagstones contains 4% gallons of water to the sack of cement when ordinary moist  sand and pebbles are used. When the concrete is made  with dry materials the water is increased to 5% gallons per sack of cement. With wet sand and pebbles:  however, the water is reduced to 3% gallons. It is irn-  portant to keep the water within the amounts given,  since strength of concrete is controlled by the ratio of  water to cement. 

In most cases a satisfactory concrete can be made by using 2 parts of sand and 3 parts of pebbles to each  sack of cement. If this mixture is too stiff add more  water and cement in the proportion stated. If it is  too wet, however, add more sand and pebbles. 

One hundred square feet of concrete flagstones 4 inches thick can be made with 9 sacks of cement,  18 cubic feet of sand, and 27 cubic feet of pebbles  or crushed stone, provided that aggregates locally  available in the proportions given make a satisfactory  concrete. Since these proportions may require some  changes, the amounts may vary slightly. 

If colored flagstones are desired they may be secured by mixing a small amount of mineral pig-  ments in with the concrete. If pigments are used, two  precautions must be observed: first, do not use any  but approved mineral pigments; and secondly, limit  the amount of pigment to six per cent of the volume  of cement. While larger proportions of pigments can  be used safely in some cases, excessive quantities  generally weaken the concrete. 

Before the concrete is placed in the forms, the surfaces that will come in contact with this material  are painted with oil. Old oil from the crank case of  an automobile (sump oil) will do for this purpose. The object of  the oil is to prevent the fresh concrete from sticking  to the wood and making the form difficult to remove. 

When the concrete is deposited into the forms, it is worked with a trowel or some other tool so that the  corners will be filled. It is then leveled off with a strikeboard that rests on the sides of the forms. Before the concrete hardens it is finished with a wood float. This  is simply a wooden trowel that has a rectangular  surface. The object of using this is to secure a smooth  but gritty surface on the finished flagstones. 

The stones may be built in the basement, in a barn, or out of doors. If they are cast in cold weather, it  is advisable to build them in doors, since the concrete  must have adequate warmth in order to cure properly. 

When stones are cast during dry weather they should be covered with damp straw or burlap so that  they may secure adequate moisture. 

The stones may be removed from the forms forty-eight hours after they have been cast. It is usually  advisable to defer placing them in the ground, however, until at least seven days after they have been  made. 

There are two methods of placing the finished stones. One method is to dig an excavation for the  entire area of >the proposed walk, to set the stones in  it, and to fill the spaces between them either with dirt  or with gravel. The other method is to dig individual  holes for each stone. Either method is satisfactory. 

Another method of making flagstone walks is to dig irregular holes in the ground and place the concrete  directly in them. The material is leveled off and  smoothed with a wood float as it is when the stones  are made in molds. The holes should have per- pendicular sides and be at least four inches deep to  secure the best results. The same concrete is used  for either type of flagstone construction and the effect  in either case is good. 

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