How to Build a Stone Bridge

Water features are lovely in backyard gardens. Learn how to build a stone bridge for a charming stream crossing.

Digging trenches

Dig two level places on either side of the stream for stone bridge footings.

Illustration courtesy Storey Publishing

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Stone Primer (Storey Publishing, 2007), by Charles McRaven, presents basic techniques of stonework and dozens of projects for inspiration and practical guidance. Designs for the home include structural masonry and accents like fireplaces and countertops, while landscaping uses include retaining walls, stone bridges, and even stone sheds and water features. The following project is from chapter 11, “Water Features and Footbridges.”

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This bridge is a slab of stone laid across the stream, supported on stones at each end. These support stones are embedded in the bank to form a level base for the slab. Necessarily, the slab must be thick and heavy to carry foot traffic. This means you’ll need some help or equipment to place this stone.

1. Dig two level places 36 inches long and 6 inches below grade on each side of the stream, parallel within 24 inches of each other.

2. Lay 6 inch stones on these leveled “steps” along the stream. These form the foundation for the main stone slab and should be leveled so that no wedging is necessary.

3. Lay one big stone across and pry it into place with the bar. You will probably need a boom or tractor bucket for this job. Lacking this, you can set up a tripod of 2x6 framing lumber with a ratchet hoist to handle the big stone. The stone can be moved to the location on wooden rollers, if necessary, but should be lifted into place.

4. Once set, your simple bridge will be higher than the path leading up to it. If desired, build the path up with soil, tamp it, and add gravel to hold against erosion.

More DIY Projects from Stone Primer:

DIY Stone Steps for Your Garden
Building a Stone Retaining Wall


Excerpted from: Stone Primer © Charles McRaven. Illustration by © Michael Gellatly. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. Buy this book from our store: Stone Primer.