Secrets From a Pro: Stone Patios

Flagstone patios and walkways are a thing of beauty and a labor-intensive undertaking, even for the seasoned DIYer. But if you spark to the idea of adding an extra seating area, or laying a winding path from your patio to a garden or exit gate, consider the advice of Dave White at Glacier View Landscape and Design in Erie for the best results. 

Dave may have a master’s degree in earth science with a blue-chip resume — having toiled in tech support for an engineering software company and as a scientist at a Colorado University research lab — but his first love is landscaping. 

“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Dave says. “Started in high school and it paid my way through college and grad school.” And while Dave had a Fulbright scholarship to study geology in Iceland and drilled his way through Antarctica to study ice cores, he’d rather be getting his hands dirty here in Erie, designing landscapes and doing the heavy lifting.

Dave had a few cautionary tales for anyone considering a flagstone project, whether it be a conversation piazza in the corner of a backyard, short stacked stairs in a retaining wall, a short pathway to a garden or water feature, or an adjunct to an existing patio. His years of experience means you can learn the right way to add a stone patio the first time.

What’s Good for Walkways?

“We often use chipstone for walkways – which is 3/8-inch crushed granite,” Dave says. “We mix it with Breeze, which is the granite ground to dust, which basically sets up and becomes hard after it rains.” 

Dave says chipstone has become more common than flagstone or concrete, although flagstone offers so many looks and configurations, depending on whether it’s random cut, or square and rectangular.

“All of our stone construction is dry laid. There’s no mortar and it’s not set in concrete.” Dave doesn’t recommend concrete and flagstone combinations because of the freeze and thaw cycles in Colorado which wreak havoc on concrete. “Any water penetrating that area can break the cement or allow mortar to chip out and makes for a mess down the road.” 

How Much is Flagstone?

“Flagstone is about $23 to $32 a square foot installed, depending on the color and whether it’s random or square cut,” he says. “Square cut is more expensive, but easier to install, and there are so many design options with either one.”

The Home Depot in Thornton, just 10 minutes from Erie on Washington Street, will deliver the flagstone and breeze if you’re a veteran DIYer because as Dave acknowledges, the flagstone itself only runs about $4 to $7 a square foot.

The process of laying flagstone is like putting a puzzle together, Dave says, and Glacier View crews first lay the road base (three inches), tamp it, then put down weed barrier and breeze. “We level each stone together to create a continuous smooth plane with a tilt, so water drains off,” Dave says. The surface is then brushed with polymeric sand and flooded with water so that it bonds to the stone.

“It remains sort of rubberized,” Dave says,” so as the patio heaves and flexes and moves imperceptibly over the years with expanding soils and annual freeze-thaw, the patio remains flexible and doesn’t crack. It’s a nice smooth looking finish.”

What’s Your Number One Secret?

One secret Dave shared about his successful approach to stone patios and walkways is laying down a good quality weed barrier. “Some contractors use that cheaper, inferior gray stuff and if we find that, we tear it out,” Dave says. His crew uses DeWitt Pro 5, a heavy-duty, punched woven fabric because they don’t want weeds ruining their work. “In my book, you get one chance to put weed barrier down when you’re landscaping!”

If you have an idea for a chipstone or flagstone project in your front, back or side yard, give Dave a call for a free consultation. 

Perfect Patios in Colliers Hill

Augmenting the perfect patios in the master-planned community of Colliers Hill with a second flagstone seating area or attractive walkway is a master plan in itself! If you don’t live in Colliers Hill yet, drive to the stunning model homes by Meritage Homes, Shea Homes and Richmond American Homes in both ranch or two-story designs and tour all 15. See why home buyers are excited about this amazing community with new homes priced from the upper $300s to the $600s.