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I am planning to install a walkway along the wall of my house. This will replace an existing area where the former owner had plants. It looks like below enter image description here

My plan is to level it and to add 2" of sand stone. Not sure if I need gravel as basys here. After that I would compact it and then install these precast slabs that look like flagstone Then fill the gaps between slabs with white decorative stone to add some contrast (https://www.lowes.ca/outdoor/garden-landscaping/mulch-rock-soil/stone-gravel-rock/)

I hope that the final result will look like this: enter image description here

My question: I know that when you are installing something like this you need to make sure that whatever plants and roots are there they must be removed. One way to take care of this problem is to install landscape fabric. Would that be enough or I need to also dig a layer of soil deep enough to remove any vegetation roots ? Most of DIY instructions show how to install this when you have existing lawn and the reader in instructed to remove the sod and build on that.

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You don't need to go deeper than what you need for your design. Remove any substantial exposed roots on the starting surface (say pencil diameter or larger), mainly to level it and prevent voids if they eventually rot away. Landscape fabric can't hurt, but I'm not sure how much difference it will make.

It's generally a good idea to start with a compacted layer of paver base. The material is a designed mix of sizes, and the pieces aren't rounded. It interlocks to make it more stable so it doesn't shift and settle when it gets wet. The finer material gets washed into crevices between larger components, making it even stronger and tighter. Once it's compacted and gets a little water, it can approach concrete in its characteristics. It also helps to block roots. Then use a layer of sand for the slabs.

Be aware that your decorative stone and underlying sand will quickly form a "garden". Dirt will collect in the stones, and seeds and pollen that fall there will grow (even if you have a layer of plastic directly underneath). You will need to regularly treat it with weed killer. I've done a couple of approaches to create a maintenance-free barrier.

One is to use exposed aggregate concrete as the filler where you're showing the decorative stone. You can mix in colorful pebbles and then wash the surface to expose them. If you want to stick with a look closer to what you show, you can fill partially with mortar or grout and then embed a thin layer of stones in the surface.

Another approach I've used is to put in the decorative stone chips, add some fine sand to fill the lower voids (wash it in until you can just start to see it), let it completely dry, and then add plastic resin. That amount of resin can get expensive, but you can make your own cheaply. Explaining how to do it is a bit long and tangential to this question, but if you're interested, we can dedicate a separate question to it.

  • Yeah I must admit that I never considered what comes from above in such setup. I guess one of the things that I can do is to use herbicide. – MiniMe May 14 '17 at 0:40
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Typically the layers are 2 or more inches of gravel for drainage, and 1" or more of sand for easy leveling of the pavers. I have seen it done with and without landscape fabric. I prefer it for weed prevention. There may or may not be a debate where the fabric goes. I have seen more often placed on top of the bare dirt that has been scraped of all vegetation. I prefer to place it over the gravel after the gravel is placed over the subgrade (dirt). The reason is that if the fabric is under the gravel the sand will eventually settle in the gaps of the stone, possibly unevenly and the pavers will not be at the original elevation they were set at. With the fabric between the gravel and the sand, the sand stays at the level you set it and so does the pavers.

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    I had to raise the edge stones up to the level of the patio edges and I now have like 6" to fill in. The slabs will be 2" thick so I need to come up with 4" of gravel and stone screening. Not a big fan of sand. It can be easily moved by ants and the slabs will move on it. I prefer a stone screening well compacted over the gravel. My patio is entirely built on stone screening, no gravel there and it is rock solid. I compacted the stone screening very well and I hammered each concrete brick till I was sure that it can not be pushed down not even one more mm. – MiniMe May 14 '17 at 0:49
  • I prefer stone dust as well over sand since is little more coarse and a little less weed friendly. Tamping of the stones as a final set should be part of the process as a rule. – Jack May 14 '17 at 6:22
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My experience with the fabric is that it deteriorates over time and you get weeds through the fabric liner. Your first year maybe two will be fine. I had done this with a rock scape in a contained wall area , for my scenario remove and replace rocks and fabric (same job over again).

Press in paving gravel (like you are going to make a parking lot) and then adding the fabric might work better. There are no magic bullets with weeds of course.

  • My understanding is that the stone screening is not very weed friendly and very few plants actually grow in this type of "soil". I have left two big heaps of this material almost completely exposed, outside for two years. As I moved one of them today (used the material to rise the edge stones in the picture to the level of the curb pavers used as edging for patio) – MiniMe May 14 '17 at 0:45

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