Landscaping opinions, flagstones for partial driveway?

I guess I could put this in GQ but I want opinions on if this will work or alternate suggestions which I guess is IMHO territory.

I have a small front yard and I am on a busy street. I have 2 cars in my driveway and I hate trying to back out in traffic so I turn my car around and back in so when I pull out I don’t have to wait as long for a clear traffic space to back out and turn around. The problem is I have to use a small section of my front yard to turn around which hasn’t been good for the grass. Turning around and backing in from the street is also next to impossible except late at night due to the traffic during the day. The area of the yard I use is roughly 6 feet by 10 feet, maybe not even that long (it’s really about the length of my car). I do not want to extend my driveway with concrete, which would require a lot of work, a professional and a permit and just look like boring concrete, so I was thinking of laying flagstones or slate down in that area that would be strong enough to handle a car but also look a little decorative. I also like the idea of less grass to deal with and was leaning toward a xeriscaped look. I considered just crushed shell (no permit required) but my concern is that it would end up everywhere, same goes for mulch. Unless it’s possible to buy that artificial mulch in large sheets? Hmm.


  1. I figured I would have to do some digging so that the stones could be placed flush with the driveway and sidewalk. Right?

  2. Do you think flagstones will work or should I use pavers or bricks? I was thinking flagstone because I like the more natural stone and abstract shapes and I don’t want to deal with trying to accurately place geometric shapes so they look nice. I am not actually sure if flagstone is the correct term, I am thinking of the flattish stones with no set shape that looks like the rock was just broken randomly.

  3. What do I do for in between the flagstones? If I seed the area with grass will the grass survive if the flagstones have to hold the weight of the car? I realize it will be harder to cut grass and weeding would need to be done manually but it is a small area. What about using the crushed shells, pebbles or sand in between the flagstones? It was my hope that the stones would hold the smaller shells/pebbles in place.

  4. How do I actually go about placing the stones? I was doing some online research and did not find a lot of opinions about using it for a driveway. Those discussions I did find were not optimistic about driving on flagstones and said they would pretty much need to be set in concrete and could still crack. Some mentioned concrete pavers that were made to look like natural flagstones. If I find something like that could I just dig out my area, lay some bedding sand and then lay the stones and fill in between with whatever I decide to use (sand, shell, dirt/grass), without having to use any concrete or mortar to set the stones in? Should I lay a weed fabric down first, and should it be over or under the bedding sand?

  5. Am I crazy for even considering this and am I better off just calling a professional and getting some quotes to see if I could afford it? My concern is that it is such a small area that no one would want to bother unless they charge an outrageous amount.

I do realize if I decide to do this I will probably need to get a permit for any work done and I will check with the city before proceeding. I just need some opinions or alternate suggestions for this planning stage. Thanks.

These are flagstones.

Ok…first let me lead by saying I do not think you need a permit for laying flag stone - concrete may be a different ball of wax - but flag stones I think are non-permit materials.

Second, I would string off the section you wish to place the stones, and see that it is the appropriate size for what you are looking to do. Placing the string allows you to see it in your minds eye without cutting up the earth.

After you have found the right size, and have your strings out, I’d cut 4-6 inches down, and create a base rectangle that will eventually house your flag stones. Then a layer of weed fabric then I’d put #5 stone pebbles down, and then a top layer of #8 pebbles, and finish it off with a layer of stone dust. Then place the flag stones on this. After a few good rains they will settle in like concrete and it will look very nice. You can use 2x4’s or pavers as the border so you can move your lawn mower around the area nicely.

I would not use pavers in lieu of larger flag stones, because as you back over it over and over again you will begin to see tire tracks, and if you make a little mistake on the bedding, they could all heave after a good rain. This is why you use the pebbles of varying size so you can get drainage, the stone dust will act as a moving mortar.

It’s heavy work, but well worth it for what you are doing.

Yes, those are what I was seeing as flagstones in my head. Thanks for the suggestions. You make it sound doable. I realize it will be a lot of work and was trying to get everything planned out and maybe schedule it for a time when I may have a few days off.

My uncle lives on a busy road (38th AveN) and had the exact same problem as you. In addition to his truck, he has two bikes and his wife’s car. He opted to go with cement and extend a leg for the main driveway in a Y-shape on one side and place round pavement stones with scalloped edges (sorry, can’t find a pic) on the other side. He pulls in the main part, veers to the left part of the Y and backs onto the scalloped stone area and pulls forward. His wife parks on the left part of the Y leaving the main driveway clear.

It works well enough, although he can’t park on the scalloped stones if his wife’s car is on the Y leg part. Those stones tend to move a bit, though…especially with lots of rain. But he’s happy with it, and didn’t have to go through the hassle of a permit. Luckily he has friends that did the cement portion so it wasn’t expensive either.

We just relaid our driveway. It is about 40 yards long and we have an antique house so there is no way that we would use concrete. We used crushed gray stone which looks great, its cheap, and is easy to work with. Even with a driveway that size, the whole project was less than $300 and a few hours work. The disadvantages are that the stones can randomly spread a little in the yard over time and the surface isn’t ideal for snowplowing but it can be done.

Since I don’t think I explained it well, I drew you a picture.

Will flagstone hold up under the weight of the car driving over it?

Oh yeah…as long as the bed is layed properly.

If you go with concrete, you can color and stamp it. Search on “stamped concrete” and see what it looks like. I think it’s a wonderful idea, and I’ve seen the results. You can’t tell it’s not laid stones!

Bomanite is one such product. They have authorized installers around, and like any successful idea, a slew of imitators. You can choose the pattern, texture, color, etc., and it can look similar to a flagstone surface (although you won’t get joints between the stones).

I will offer a cautious vote against flagstones. Cautious because I am not from Florida and conditions are different there than here. I’m referring to flagstone as a striated stone that easily splits to create a flat surface; it can either be sedimentary (like bluestone or shale), or metamorphic (like slate).

My limited experience with flagstone is that the characteristic that makes it desirable (easily split) also makes it suspect for vehicular loads. In a perfect situation the loads would be transferred evenly and directly to the base material beneath. However, if there is any settlement (through imperfect compaction, erosion or any other similar reason), the stone will end up spanning across the void and will eventually fail when subjected to vehicular traffic; foot traffic is different. I think that this is why it is usually seen in a concrete bed in driveways.

Not to single you out Phlosphr, but:

this heaving condition would be equally disastrous for flagstones.

There are any number of companies with some very attractive concrete/brick/asphalt modular pavers that would be appropriate for this use. Asphalt probably isn’t the best choice for Florida but concrete might be right. Look at “tumbled” pavers that have a bit of wear at the edges if that appeals to you.

Hmm. A lot to think about, thanks for the input. I guess I will do some more research and look into getting some estimates from professionals for the stamped concrete and consider all my options.