In the Spring of 2004, we decided to upgrade our old pea gravel walkway that goes from the driveway to the front patio area. The previous owners had put down some stepping stones that were spaced too far apart and filled in with pea gravel. It was such a mess and we were always tracking stones into the house as well as into the lawn. Our low cost solution was to make our own cobblestone walkway by using a Walkmaker mold by Quikrete.
Pea Gravel Walkway Before
The first thing we did was take out the existing stepping stones and filled in those holes with base type stone similar to pea gravel, only smaller. Then we proceeded to mix the concrete and fill each 2" x 2" mold, right on top of the existing soil and grass, rotating each mold a quarter turn to get a random looking pattern down the entire walkway. Below is a picture after we made all the molds.
The great thing about these molds is that you fill them and then remove the mold and continue on to the next one. If you have to curve the walkway like we did, you can just make some extra cobblestones and fill those areas in. I made an extra set of stones on a piece of plywood covered in plastic and just moved them to the walkway after they dried.
To aid in the concrete drying without cracking, you should mist the concrete several times a day to keep it from drying out too quickly. Since this walkway is in a shady area, we did not have to cover it with plastic, but if your area is very sunny and it's very hot, you may want to cover the concrete with plastic or you can mist it often to keep it from drying too quickly and cracking.
Once the concrete is dry, you can fill in the cracks between the stones with sand, topsoil or sand topping mix. We choose sand topping mix (concrete without stones) because we did not want grass or weeds to grow up between the stones. To do that, you just sweep the mix between the cracks and water it down. After that was dry we put topsoil along the edges and blended the walk with the surrounding grass.
This was a very inexpensive project costing about $60 in 2004 and was finished over the course of two weekends, with the majority of the time being drying time for the concrete and sand topping mix.
Walkway After Grass Grew In
Update: January 2006
The walkway has held up well. The only problems we have had is that the tree roots seem to have cracked the sand topping mix. The walkway still looks good, but when it is wet the cracks are more noticeable. Another issue is we had to raise one side to level the walk and we had a lot of rain right after we finished it, so some of the soil washed away before the grass seed could sprout. Over time, that edge has dipped, also cracking a little of the sand topping mix, but all the stones are still intact and holding up well even without sealing the concrete. My suggestion would be if your walk or patio is not completely level and/or near a tree with large roots, you probably should fill the cracks with sand or topsoil and let moss, grass, or some other ground cover grow up between the cobbles.
Update: January 2007
The walkway looks like it has been there forever, which is the look I was going for. The stones themselves have held up well....still no cracking or chipping. We are considering putting in another cobblestone walkway at some point.