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How to Make Stepping Stones

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In some gardens, stepping stone paths beckon, virtually begging to be followed. Handmade stones add a unique, personal touch to a garden—you can even inscribe them to commemorate special days, such as birthdays or anniversaries. This is a great project to share with children—there’s almost no way to go wrong and you can use a nearly infinite variety of materials, depending on the ages and interests of the children. There are many stepping-stone kits on the market, but you don’t need one—the materials are readily available. 

To form stepping stones, use quick-setting concrete mix—about one 40-lb. bag of mix for each 18"-square stone. This mix is caustic: Wear a dust mask and gloves when using it. Experiment with textures, patterns, and shapes. If you don’t like a pattern, smooth the surface and start again. Remember, though, that you must work fairly quickly—quick-setting concrete sets up within 30 minutes. To slow the process, you can lightly mist the surface with water after “erasing” a pattern.

In addition to the decorative techniques described on the next page, you can make gorgeous accent stones from pieces of broken china or pottery. You can buy broken bits of china at craft stores, but it’s less expensive to buy old dishes at garage sales or flea markets and break them yourself. Place the dishes in a heavy paper bag and then tap the bag with a rubber mallet. Wear safety goggles and heavy gloves when handling broken pieces, and file any sharp edges with a masonry file.

How to Build Stepping Stones

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    Coat molds with petroleum jelly. Mix quick-setting concrete and fill the molds. Skim off excess water.

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    Decorate the stones with stamped designs or embedded ornaments. Let the stepping stones harden thoroughly.

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    Add a layer of compactible gravel, and then set each stone in place. Adjust until each stone is level and stable.

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