Do It Yourself: Working With Cobblestone

Are you looking at using cobblestones for a home landscaping project? Check this article for history and

In the past, many people built their homes using cobblestones. The stones were readily available as a result of hoeing or plowing fields, or could be taken from nearby riverbeds. Cobbles were hand sorted, using a sizing ring. Friends, family, and neighbors participated in sorting stones for the building project. The best sizes were from five- to six-inches long, with some nine-inch stones included for wall stability. The cobblestone walls were laid using limestone mortar. First, five of the five-odd-inch stones were laid with the inside end of the stone pushed slightly down in the mortar and the outside end of the stone visible to the eye. Then, a nine-inch cobble was placed in the same manner to help the wall stabilize. After several rows were built, additional mortar was compacted between the stones. The finest homes had cobbles sorted not only for size, but also for color. The finished homes were low maintenance, never needed painting, and the walls were inherently fireproof

Today, cobblestones are more likely to be used for landscaping, as working with cobbles is very labor intensive, and therefore, expensive. Building a cobblestone path is time consuming, but relatively easy. Dig your path about six inches below level land. Use wood sidings in order to keep your path lines neat and "clean". Fill your path with about two inches of sand, and then level. Next, pour in a mixture of either dry concrete or a mix of concrete and gravel. Your mix should be flush with the rest of your yard. Then, individually place your stones in the bed, leveling periodically with a flat tool or a two-by-four. If you do not have gravel in your mix, place your cobbles close together. When your path is complete, spray it with water and let it set. Make sure that you don't drench the path; the concrete needs to be wetted through, but not soggy. Remove the wood sidings after the concrete has set. A more "natural" approach is to clean your path of plants and weeds, dig holes for your stones close together and individually place your cobbles. Then, you can "allow" short grasses or small flowering plants to grow between the stones. Regardless of the method you use, try to place the flatter sides of the cobbles up and try to keep them as level as possible. You do not want family, friends, or neighbors tripping on your path.

There are three general ways to lay cobblestone paths. The first one, the easiest, is to lay your stones randomly. Large or small, big or little, reddish or blackish or brownish, press your cobbles into the set you are using. The next method requires some sorting. The sizes of your stones should be "more or less" similar and should be laid in "more or less" straight lines. The effect will end up looking like the stones are "moving" or "rolling," because the lines will wander. The last method involves precision. Your cobbles should be sorted to size, if not to color. The stones should be laid in straight lines. This method is more orderly, and because of the sorting, more time consuming. You can also design intricate patterns or pictures for your paths, but be prepared to spend much more time, and if you are paying someone else to lay your path, much more money.

Where can you get cobblestones? Try your local sand and gravel yard, your local home center, or your local riverbed. If you go the riverbed route, check local, state, and federal ordinances to make sure that removing stones is legal. Another option is to buy molds, fill them with concrete, and set them according to directions using concrete dyes or tints for color.

Laying a cobblestone paths are low maintenance and pleasing to the eye. In a way, it's like bringing a bit of history into your yard. It will accent your landscaping and bring pleasure to you and your visitors.

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