Introduction

a finished spiral-shaped pebble mosaic
Photo: Kolin Smith
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If you're looking for an outdoor project that's a bit off the beaten path, a pebble mosaic will give your yard, garden, or walkway a unique and unexpected focal point. Though the materials to build it are pretty basic—flat pebbles or cobbles from a stone yard (or ordered online); concrete mix, gravel, and stone dust for the base—your design can be anything but.

This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers used 2- and 3-inch polished stones from Stone Decorative to create this spiral-pattern mosaic, which can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your site and the stones you select. "Just be sure to lay the stones on edge for added strength and stability," he says.
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    Tools List

    • trenching spade
      Spade to dig out the base
    • 2x4
      2x4s to screed the concrete and hold a tarp in place as the mosaic dries
    • garden sprayer
      Garden sprayer or hose with fine-mist attachment
    • 2 nails and string
      Two large nails and string
    • garden spade
      Garden spade
    • 4x4s
      4x4 to set and level the stones. It should be about the length of the mosaic's radius so that you can work on one small section at a time.
    • mallet
      Rubber mallet
    • Natural Bristle Brush
      Paint brush to spread the topping mix.
    • mason's brush
      Stiff-bristled brush to shape and dress the topping mix.

    Shopping List

    1. Sand and scrap plywood to make a box in which to lay out the mosaic's design. (Or spread the sand on a plastic tarp.)

    2. Mosaic stones. Choose flat pebbles or cobbles in colors you like. We used green and slate black from the Signature Stones collection at Stone Decorative

    3. Paver base

    4. Stone dust

    5. Concrete mix, such as Quikrete.6. Topping mix. Also known as sand mix, it's finer than concrete mix and contains no aggregate. Quikrete and other companies make it. You'll add it like grout between the joints after laying the stones.

    7. Pavers, bricks, or bluestones to surround the mosaic and hold it in place.

    8. Plastic tarp or sheeting