Different Types of Flagstone Patios

I am considering installing a flagstone patio in my backyard. It looks like a lot of work, but worth it. Here’s a brief how-to:

There are two types of flagstone patios. There are ones laid in sand and ones laid in concrete. According to this site, with a concrete base and mortar between the stones, the surface stays flatter over time. With sand, the stones shift in time and have a more organic, natural look. Here’s a picture of the difference:
savvyhousekeeping types of flagstone patios how to lay
Personally, I like the sand look, which is good because it is easier to do. Laying flagstone (or other pavers) in sand is called a “dry-laid” method or flexible pavement. From the This Old House site, the dry-laid method “consists of laying pavers directly on a bed of compacted sand or crushed stone. The pavers are butted tightly together, then sand is swept between the joints. This method allows you to easily remove pavers if you ever need to change, repair or alter the patio.”
Once you get the patio laid, you have a choice for what to put between the “joints,” or cracks, of the stone. Some people like the look of the cracks themselves and so lay the stones close together with minimal fill between them, like with this patio from Hammerhead Stoneworks:
savvyhousekeeping types of flagstone patios how to lay
It helps that the stone is gorgeous here.
It’s very common for people to sweep in enough gravel, crushed rocks, or sand to fill the joints all the way, which ends up looking like this patio from Funks Landscaping:
savvyhousekeeping types of flagstone patios how to lay
I hear that the gravel can be annoying and get flung around a lot with this look. But maybe it depends on how it is done.
You can also put dirt or mulch between the stones, like this example from Sunset Magazine:
savvyhousekeeping types of flagstone patios how to lay
Lots of people put plants between the cracks of the flagstone, such as this example with moss from Stone Showroom:
savvyhousekeeping types of flagstone patios how to lay
I love how this looks. However, I hear that moss loves shade and so this doesn’t work if your patio is in the sun. To remedy this, a lot of people grow thyme in between the flagstones, like in this picture from Mountain Valley Growers:
savvyhousekeeping types of flagstone patios how to lay
Thyme doesn’t need a lot of water and loves sun. But I hear it can overrun your stones if you don’t trim it back.
I have just begun to think about this, so I am still not sure what I want to do. If you have any pointers on putting in a flagstone patio, I’d like to hear them.

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6 thoughts on “Different Types of Flagstone Patios”

  1. Thanks for the link to my site…
    You can plant sedum or Corsican mint in the joints as well.
    I fill my joints with a mixture of 3/8″ gravel (pea gravel) and stone screenings. In the image above, it has subsided into the joint some, which it should do, as it packs down with rain and other settling. Usually you add more material to the joints until you get it very solidly anchored. I do like the shadow line though…
    m-

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  2. You must have known this is one of my projects for 2010- I need to make new sidewalks and have no idea how… this looks like it will work out fine!

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  3. You’ve done some great research for your home project. You might also find it useful to look at your local flagstone installation contractor’s website. They usually have a gallery of their work displayed on their site which can help you choose better in making your decision.

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  4. I actually like the look of the cracks. I don’t put anything in between those cracks. I like it that way and i prefer flagstones laid in sand than the ones laid in concrete. I don’t know but for me they are more visually appealing.

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  5. I love the ones with the moss in between the cracks. I like the look of the cracks as well. I like it better than the ones laid in concrete. I like the idea that you can actually remove them if we need to repair or change anything in the patio.

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