Low Cost Recessed Stepping Stones

Seattle is known for it's rain. And with that rain comes muddy yards, so I needed stepping stones. But I didn't want to worry about my lawnmower hitting the stones, so I came up with a plan that worked perfectly! And all you need is cement or concrete, water and a shovel.


First of all, pick a day with no rain that's not very hot and cut your grass as short as you can in the area you want to place your stepping stones. Next (on the freshly cut grass) mark the exact outline of what you want each of your stepping stones to look like. (Most people use a marking paint made for marking underground power cables, but I used plain white cooking flour which I sprinkled on with my hand).

The design I used was of "amoeba-like" asymmetrical and slightly interlocking "stones". Next, dig down into the ground about 4 - 6 inches (on and inside the line) while following the line you drew with your shovel. Lastly mix your cement with water (I mixed one bag at a time in a 5 gal bucket) then fill each freshly dug hole to the top with the wet cement. (The ground is your "mold")

*Buy about 1 small bag of concrete per hole depending on the size and depth of the hole. You can press several interesting sticks and leaves into the wet cement, these will look like "fossils" in the "stone". You can also stain the cement with a cement colorant so it looks like stone, (many colors are available), but I left mine plain and they turned out wonderful.

I chose a wavy path for my stepping stones (as opposed to a straight line) with one zigzag in it. This looks great with the "organic" interlocking shape of the recessed cement "stones" and I put a fountain with plants around it in the center where the path "zigged".

The stepping stones look like slate for a fraction of the price, but my favorite thing about them is that we could mow right over them with no harm to our mower blades! That and the way my shoes no longer got wet on my way to the car! I was told that without adding re-bar my stepping stones might crack, but they've been there for nearly 20 years now and have held up fine. But, truthfully, if they do crack, it just adds to the slate-like rock look. No big deal!

April 3, 20081 found this helpful

Lancashire (in England) is known for its rainfall too, and my new and rather scrubby lawn is suffering the same as yours was. What a wonderful idea! I had considered making paving by basically setting cement into the bottom of a bucket, for example, but I didn't want a circular shape. I am definitely going to follow your plan. And I might even press a little mosaic pattern (from broken tiles and pots) into the top too.

Have you got a picture of what your stepping stones look like?

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April 3, 20080 found this helpful

Could you send me a picture at seachelle1 AT cox.net

I would love to see what they look like before I make them.


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April 3, 20080 found this helpful

Lesley, No, I don't have a picture. I did this at the house I moved from 2 years ago. I plan on doing the very same thing at this new place, probably this summer... If you send me your e-mail address to my account here on ThriftyFun, I'll send you a picture when it's completed. Yes, England is a lot like Seattle in the "rain" department. We had a soil with very few rocks, but IF you have a rocky soil where you plan on doing this, I would suggest placing the excess rocks on the INSIDE part of the stepping stone & keep the outside edges free of most rocks when you pour the cement in. The one thing I will mention is that because I used a "zigzag" design, my teenagers would seldom follow the "squiggly" path (but would cut STRAIGHT across) until I put the fountan/planter in. Something to think about if you have kids. For those who live in extremely cold claimants (like Minnesota) think about adding rabbit wire or something as reinforcement because of the tough winters if you want no cracks. I, myself prefer to just sprinkle grass seed inside any cracks that form.

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March 21, 20100 found this helpful

I'm so happy this topic was brought up again. Many thanks for the original post. I do have a question, if someone can help:

I have about 100' for a pathway, & would like 6-8" stones with just 1-2" between them. At let's say 3" deep, how do I calculate about how much Quickrete I'd need? Thanks.

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June 19, 20111 found this helpful

This sounds just wonderful, I would love to see pictures. One question though, you said you could press sticks, leaves or such into the cement to make a fossil like impression, does that mean you press the leaf in and leave it there or press it in and then remove it before the cement dries?

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