How To Lay Flagstone On Dirt? Explained

Suppose you have recently visited the nearest memorial around you on a national holiday; a flagstone is common there. The structure of a flagstone can easily inspire you to build one in your area with a beautiful pathway.

That’s when you will need to know how to lay flagstone on dirt because a base is compulsory there. Anyway, a flagstone is not just a rectangular design for flags, but it’s a combination of stones to make slabs for pathways, fencing, and roofing.

Here, you will find the step-by-step guidelines for laying flagstone on the dirt, including all the necessary things that will make your work easy.

How to Lay Flagstone on Dirt

Plan Your Patio or Walkway

Plan Your Patio or Walkway

If you’re designing a new patio or walkway, planning is critical. Start by sketching out the area on paper to get an idea of size and layout. Once you have your outline, begin measuring and marking where each post will go.

You’ll also want to figure out the slope of your walkway and how deep it should be to prevent water from seeping. Excavate the ground around the posts with a forklift or tractor until they are level with one another. Next, install waterproof concrete from the surrounds around each post (or use precast concrete steps).

Mark the location of your pavers, and attach them to the form surrounding with a jigsaw. Install trim around each post using a belt sander or hand file. Finally, fill in any gaps with clay or concrete mix, trowel it smooth, and let it dry. Start sketching the area on paper if you’re planning to install a new patio or walkway.

Once you have your outline, begin measuring and marking where each post will go. Excavate the ground around the standings with a forklift or tractor until they are level with one another. Next, install waterproof concrete around each post (or use precast concrete steps). Mark the location of your pavers, and attach them to the form covers with a jigsaw.

Install trim around each post using a belt sander or hand file. Finally, fill in any gaps with clay or concrete mix, trowel it smooth, and let it dry.

What Is the Historical Background of Flagstones?

What Is the Historical Background of Flagstones

Well, the word flagstone came from the ancient English word Flagge, which means a slab. It is mostly seen on old, important buildings of America, and Europe, especially at memorials and headstones.

You can see various patterns of patios, flooring, and roofing made of colorful stones in a square or rectangular shape.

The Portage Park of Chicago and the University of Bergamo in Italy are highly known for their flagstones made of sedimentary rocks.

Some monuments also have walls made in flagged style, but the rocks are made of silica, iron oxide, and calcite, providing a vintage look.

How to Lay Flagstone on Dirt?

How to Lay Flagstone on Dirt 1

Those who are interested in laying flagstone on the dirt must know the steps of doing it. Besides, you will know about

  • The necessary materials for flagstone
  • The stepwise guidelines
  • The process of laying flagstone on the dirt at the rooftop
  • The steps of laying bricks beside rocks.
  • Things to avoid while laying flagstone on the dirt

Prepping the Dirt

Prepping the Dirt

Gathering the materials you’ll need to prep your dirt is essential and can be as simple or complex as you like. You’ll need:

Most importantly, you’ll need a container holding at least one cubic yard of dirt. Something like a large garbage can works well. If possible, try to find one with sides at least 2 feet high, so the soil doesn’t escape while you’re working.

A spade or shovel is also helpful for moving the earth around. If using a compost tumbler, get some liner that will keep the dirt from spilling out (like a plastic trash bag). If you’re using a wheelbarrow, ensure it has at least two solid wheels. One of the two solid wheels is for moving the dirt, and one is to help compel it as you throw it in. Some people also like to use weighted blankets or even large weights to help compact the soil while they work. Once you have the necessary supplies, it’s time to start.

What Are the Materials of Laying Flagstone on a Base?

What Are the Materials of Laying Flagstone on a Base

Some materials are necessary to make your flagstone long-lasting and strong; let’s see what they are:

Cement: It is necessary to put on all over the space, not only on the base. The cement will make the shape and structure stronger.

Base: The base can be something solid or semi-solid; it can be dirt (if it can hold the depth of 1-1.5 feet) or cement.

Sand: Though sand has the risk of getting washed away, but it can cover the surface, especially while installing flagstone for flooring.

Gravel: Gravel is necessary to make a flagstone’s foundation stronger, and stone dust is the best thing to use here.

Tools That You Need:

You can’t place or build a proper flagstone with bare hands using the raw materials. That’s why check the list of tools you will need, but they may vary due to flagstone locations.

Flagstone Walkways

  • Stone Chisels for separating or cutting the bricks or stones in shape.
  • A brush or a broom for cleaning the small areas.
  • A caution tape for pointing out the areas you want to cover.
  • A jumping jack for an unstable base, especially when you’re laying flagstone on dirt.
  • A lightweight hammer for hammering the necessary areas or items.
  • An ax can be useful for preparing flagstone walkways when it has to be rocky.
  • A sharp knife to use for shaping the edges of the workpiece.

Flagstone Patio

  • A mini excavator for digging the soil and leveling the dirt while building the flagstone’s base.
  • A compact utility loader that can transfer heavy items of a flagstone from one place to another.
  • A medium-sized plate compactor is needed for the ground’s graveling.
  • Lastly, a stone saw is compulsory for cutting and shaping the stones evenly.

Necessary Time: It can take approximately 3-4 hours to install a flagstone in an area.

Total Cost: It will be $15-$20.

Related: Top 8 Best Paint For Plywood Reviews & Buying Guide

Can You Lay Flagstone on Dirt?

Can You Lay Flagstone on Dirt

Yes, it is possible to lay flagstone on a dirt surface; it can be full solid or semi-solid. You can directly put the layers on dirt when you’re building slabs with thick items.

You can do that because the rocks used for flagstones are resistant to acids and fits well without displacing.

Now, you must know how to lay flagstone on the dirt to build a perfect one without any problem. You can find the stepwise guidelines below to put a flagstone on dirt, especially while flooring.

Steps of Laying Flagstone on the Dirt

Step 1: Planning the Area of Your Flagstone

Step 1 Planning the Area of Your Flagstone

First of all, it is necessary to decide the dimensions of your desired flagstones. Such as how much ground you want to be covered or how many slabs you want to prepare. That’s why it is better to take professional help in designing the patio or path.

Next, you should also consider the height you want to build above the ground; for instance, you may want to build something square-shaped.

That’s when you need a measuring tape to see how much you can utilize and how much area you will need.

Step 2: Gathering All the Necessary Items

Step 2 Gathering All the Necessary Items

It’s quite natural that you won’t have all the resources around you when you plan to build a flagstone.

You must make a list of the necessary raw materials and tools (already mentioned above) to prepare. Next, you must check which things are available in plenty in your stock and what are not.

Please remember that you need to plan a suitable budget for cost management and avoid unnecessary spending.

That’s why you are supposed to decide which materials you will use and how much money you have to spend.

Step 3: Determining the Sizes of Work Pieces

Step 3 Determining the Sizes of Work Pieces

Suppose you have brought everything from your nearest market, but will you find everything according to your desired way? No, and that’s when you will get a brick setting machine, a saw, or a knife to cut the pieces evenly.

Please remember that the big rectangular or square-shaped items are not enough; you will have to prepare for the small corners too. Obviously, when you decide to lay flagstone on dirt, you will choose heavier stones or bricks.

Step 4: Create the Utility Line for Wastes

Step 4 Create the Utility Line for Wastes

Please remember that you can’t cover the whole area you get and leave some area bare without flagstone. It is also necessary to keep space for the utility line or drainage system near the working area.

If you make a line for the waste materials, the garbage that will create while laying the layers and preparing the dirt will easily wash away. Thus, it will go through the main drain line and won’t cause any hamper.

Step 5: Preparing the Dirt for Flagstone

Step 5 Preparing the Dirt for Flagstone

This is the most important stage because you can’t have a good foundation flagstone if you fail to prepare the portion well. Anyway, get an ax for digging the area and observe the area you have already marked before.

Start removing the plants and other things from the area, and then you must dig the dirt there; the separate soil works as dust. Please never put them aside and let them be inside the area, and mix enough stone dust with them.

After mixing the whole thing, you can spread the prepared dirt evenly all over the dug place, with around 3-6 inches depth. The minimum depth should be 3 inches because the first layer of flagstone must be 1-2 inches.

Step 6: Gravelling the Base

Step 6 Gravelling the Base

Putting the dirt only for the base cannot make the foundation of flagstone strong, and that’s when you need gravel. Stone dust and water make a good layer, and the liquid helps the dust set well.

If you have dug more than 4 inches on the ground, make sure that the gravel has at least 2 inches of space. The main stones can take the rest of the places on the ground.

Step 7: Placing the First Layer

Step 7 Placing the First Layer

After you have cut the stone pieces, you should be placing the squares or rectangles, but keep the minimum distance of 2-3 fingers between them. Ensure that the stones or bricks are well set on the dirt and won’t move from their places.

If you’re confused about arranging the large pieces, you can hire a professional or consult a landscape expert.

Most of the required tools will be working in this step because you will need to load and attach the items.

Step 8: Fill the Gaps with Smaller Stones

Step 8 Fill the Gaps with Smaller Stones

This step will use knives or powerful saws to prepare smaller rocks to artistically cover some of the gaps. Be careful with cutting the edges because you have to maintain the size accuracy.

The method of placing them is usually referred to as the second layer laying on the dirt. Anyway, this is not much time-consuming as step 7.

Step 9: Finishing the Flagstone Beautifully

Step 9 Finishing the Flagstone Beautifully

After placing the stones or building a patio and filling most of the gaps, you should let them dry and set them properly. Next, you must think about decorating the uncovered area because you can’t leave that anyways.

The first idea to give the whole surface a rocky look will be spreading sands all over the uncovered area. You must ensure that the sand’s color matches the slabs or stones you have used.

The second thing you can do is planting small trees or let the grass grow on the uncovered area. Thus, you can provide a completely natural look to the space, and it will look good with the stones.

Last but not least, advice is for those who don’t want any parasites or grass in the area. People who want to stop plants growing near the flagstone can use the weed barrier to stop any type of growth.

You can successfully lay flagstone on the dirt if you follow the 9-steps method mentioned above. It may take some hours, but that’s the best way you can follow without professional help.

Can You Lay Flagstone on Dirt While Roofing?

Can You Lay Flagstone on Dirt While Roofing

Well, you can do that, but the ingredients’ uses may vary; for instance, you will need cement while building something on the roof.

The difference between putting flagstone on the dirt in making a walkway and roofing is the base. When you build a big structure on the roof, the roof gets more pressure at one area than the ground.

That’s why adding cement and stronger dust items are necessary to create the dirt for flagstone on a rooftop; the same goes for building walls.

How to Lay Bricks on Dirt Along Rocks?

How to Lay Bricks on Dirt Along Rocks

Bricks are better options for flagstone to fence or roofing; you can also use bricks to create borders across a walkway.

Now you should know how to do that if you want to create borders of a rocky path or create slabs; the steps are given below:

Step 1: Make Way for Bricks

Step 1 Make Way for Bricks

Cut the edges to make room for the borders, but make sure that both sides have even space for placing bricks horizontally. Next, you will need a hose to make wide ways on both sides for placing bricks.

Step 2: Use a Shovel to Deepen the Dug Area

Step 2 Use a Shovel to Deepen the Dug Area

It is necessary to dig the area deeper to create a dirt base and fit thick, heavy bricks inside. Here, a shovel would be helpful for the purpose; it can dig the soil up to 3-4 inches. It can also soften the hard area that will make your placement easier.

Step 3: Prepare the Dirt and Surface

Step 3 Prepare the Dirt and Surface

You can later smash some gravel items and mix them with the dug soil along with some water. Thus, the surface would be almost ready to have bricks inside; moreover, you will need a wooden or metal rake.

The rake helps you deal with the trench and make the surface evenly smooth, and completely prepares the borders for putting bricks.

Step 4: Place the Bricks

Step 4 Place the Bricks

Start placing the bricks one by one evenly, being in the line, and you may use some equipment if you need some help.

Please make sure that they have settled well inside, or you can add more sands or other materials if needed.

The second layer or gap-filling process is the same as putting stones on paves or patio for the flagstones.

Things You Should Avoid While Laying Flagstone on Dirt

Things You Should Avoid While Laying Flagstone on Dirt

Some actions of yours either may spoil the whole thing, or it can affect the flagstone that you have built. It is necessary to avoid such activities, such as:

  • Never dig the whole soil for yourself with an ax or shovel; use an excavator instead. Later, you can use the manual one to dig small holes or to process the corners.
  • You must purchase stones larger than you have planned but never get the smaller ones than your estimated square feet.
  • While graveling the soil and dirt; otherwise, the stones won’t set on the base.
  • You should avoid working without making a road map or predesigned structure because the plans make the flagstone perfect.
  • Please don’t work without taking safety measures (mask, glasses, gloves, etc.) if you’re working for yourself.

If you avoid the things mentioned above, you will surely have no problem laying flagstone on the dirt.

Keep These Tips in Mind

1. always start with a level surface – without leveling the flagstone, bumps and divots will show up right after its installation

2. use a trowel to even out the surface of the flagstone before laying down your first slab

3. place flags on top of one another to form an even layer – this will help avoid any gaps or unevenness in your finished product.

4. use a chisel to trim any excess flags and edges off your finished product.

5. use a hose to clean any residual dirt or stones from the surface of your flagstone – this will help ensure that your flagstone looks its best when installed.

6. use a level to ensure your flagstone is straight before final installation.

Wrapping It Up

When it’s time to end your flagstone project, use a trowel or shovel to level the surface, you must ensure to pack the flagstones tightly, and no gaps remain. Spread a layer of topsoil over the flagstones and smooth it with your hands or a rake. Finally, add another thin layer of soil, using your hand again if needed.

Tools and Materials

-Cordless drill with a bit size that will fit the diameter of your flagstone (mine was 2″).

-Tape measure

-Straw or razor blade

-Chisel or mason’s chisel

-Circular saw with a broader blade than what you use for lumber

-Paint or sealant

-Ruler or yardstick

-Labels (optional)

Final Words

Now that you know how to lay flagstone on dirt directly or indirectly, you won’t face any problems further.

Anyway, you can also have alternatives of dirt as the base of flagstone, but no matter what you choose, you should know the whole process.

Just imagine that you have completed flooring with flagstone, and it ruined in some moments during monsoon.

How pathetic it would be, wouldn’t it? Follow the steps and choose good quality materials; your problems will be solved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Base for Flagstone Pathway?

Well, concrete, aggregate, bricks, and heavy stones are the best to make flagstone pathways because they strengthen the structure.

Do You Need Sands for Flagstones?

If you don’t want to use sands beneath flagstones, you can skip that, but you should include them to fill the gaps between stones.

Is Flagstone Cheaper than a Pave Layer?

Yes, you will have to spend $3-$6 less than a paved layer per square meter if you flagstone the area; moreover, the process of flagstone is easier.

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