Slate, or fine-grain rock, is a paving material you can use to create an eye-pleasing, simple pathway in your garden. Slate offers the strength of concrete and has a naturally smooth surface and unique texture that lends itself well to paving. Laying a slate path may sound intimidating, but with a little planning and some basic tools, the process should go smoothly and painlessly. Follow these steps to learn how to properly lay a slate path.
Determine the area where you will lay your slate path. Use a hose or rubber tubing to outline the contours of the slate path. Make the path's contours 16 inches wide or more so that two people can comfortably walk the path side by side.
Lay down 1-in. slate pieces in the desired pattern in an area beside the marked path. Rearrange the pieces as needed until you are satisfied with the arrangement.
Using a shovel, dig out the soil between the path's contours to a depth of two inches. Shovel the unearthed soil into a wheelbarrow for easy removal. Smooth out the surface of the soil with a piece of 2-in. by 4-in. scrap wood. Use a level to ensure an even surface.
Pour sand onto the path up to one inch from the surface. Use a level and the scrap wood to even out the sand layer. Position the slate pieces in the desired pattern onto the path, starting at one end and working your way across the path.
Fill any gaps between the slate pieces with smaller pieces of slate. Create small slate pieces by striking larger slate pieces over a rock to shatter it. Use the level to ensure the slate path is smooth and even. Press down firmly and evenly on any uneven stones to level out the path's surface.
Pour a layer of sand across the slate path to fill any cracks between the slate. Sweep away excess sand with a broom.
The wheelbarrow will be handy for moving heavy slate and sand. Design a curving slate path to allow your path travellers to slow down and admire any landscaping or special garden features planted around the path.
Always wear safety goggles and gloves when working with stone to avoid injury.