What Is Crazy Paving?

Dan Harkins

A cheaper but often more time-consuming method of paving a walkway involves using irregular-shaped stones in a seemingly aimless way. Called crazy paving, this style is commonly used on garden paths but can be found in many applications, dating back as far as the ancient Romans. Some use different shapes of stones but form a uniform and tightly packed walkway, sealed with as little mortar as possible. Others just lay stones at random intervals and let the grass grow in between.

Hammers and chisels may be used to cut stones in the exact shapes needed for crazy paving.
Hammers and chisels may be used to cut stones in the exact shapes needed for crazy paving.

Uniformly cut stone can be expensive, particularly marble, quartz and slate. This is especially true when using the stones to pave a large area of ground. Broken pieces of these materials can be used for a crazy paving project, which can add just as much aesthetic appeal if set correctly. Concrete flagstone is perhaps the most commonly used crazy paving stone.

Crushed gravel can be used for crazy paving.
Crushed gravel can be used for crazy paving.

A few methods can be used to properly support a crazy paving path. Many lay a thin bed of cement and set the stones in before it dries. For thicker stones, this would allow for vehicle driving as well. Others use a bed of crushed gravel and sand, into which the stone pieces are laidIn either case, masons attempt to place the stones are close as possible to minimize grouting, which is the most susceptible to breakage. The general method involves using large stones to form the basic path, then smaller cuts to fill in the gaps in a seamless manner. Masons often use chisels and hammers to cut stones in the exact shape they need to make a crazy paving project not so crazy.

No matter what kind of base is used for crazy paving, a common feature is a geometrical uniformity of the walkway. This can be achieved by laying boards along the perimeter of where the walkway will be constructed, giving the final project a finished look. It also can be achieved by a installing a thin row of small, uniform stones that form a clean border and an aesthetic juxtaposition of styles.

Perhaps the most haphazard-looking crazy paving is the Mediterranean style. This involves using the same kind of irregular-shaped stones, but laid in a crushed rock bedding at spaced-apart, seemingly random intervals. Then, soil and seed or sod is laid between the stones to cover the crushed rock and lend a garden area a unique appearance.

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