As cold weather pushes flowers into winter dormancy, it is always a good idea to spread a fresh layer of mulch over flowerbeds to insulate roots from harsh winter weather. To add visual interest to mulched beds or pathways, consider adding a few step stones, which look particularly appealing when nestled into dark, cushy mulch.
Whether you use wood, bark or pine needle mulch, step stones introduce contrasting textures that delight the eye and ensure many mud-free visits to your winter garden.
Add Stepping Stones to Mulched Beds:
- Choose step stones that work well with other colors in your landscape. They might match the color of nearby brick or concrete, or you can use natural rock step stones. Also consider weight. Large 16-inch-wide concrete step stones can weigh 40 pounds, compared to bigger, more decorative ones made from recycled rubber weighing only 8 pounds.
- When planning placement, be sure to consider spots that become muddy in late winter, or places that you often visit, such as the area near your bird feeder. Envision an odd number of step stones in small garden scenes, because the human eye finds odd numbers more interesting.
- Cover soil or mulch where stones will be placed with a roll-out fabric weed barrier.
- Install a step stone by raking away any existing mulch and using a spade if needed to level the soil where the step stone will be placed. Wear gloves when handling concrete or stone pieces, which can have sharp edges. Position the stone on the soil, and jump on it a few times to settle it in place. If the stone feels wobbly underfoot, use soil or small stones to support low spots.
- Rake mulch around the new step stones, and then sweep them clean with a broom.