Step 2: Lay Out the Mosaic

Mark Powers making a test version of his pebble mosaic in a miniature sandbox
Photo: Kolin Smith
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Spread the sand to a depth of 3 inches in a sandbox made from scrap plywood or on a plastic tarp or sheeting. Lay the stones upright in the sand in a pattern and shape you like; the sand will hold the stones in place as you work. The stones should be packed together tightly, with parallel stones touching each other in their middles. Don't lay all the stones parallel, though—varying their direction will keep them from shifting out of place. (We created a double- spiral pattern, with one set of stones laid perpendicular to the other.) When you're happy with your mosaic, take a photo of it and note its size and shape for later reference.
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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