How to Make a Simple Pebble Mosaic
Design and Make a Mosaic for Your Garden
A pebble mosaic is a lovely addition to any garden, whether it serves as a focal point, a border for a path or a surround for another feature such as a bird bath or pond, or to break up a large area of paving. It can add a unique and personal touch of magic to an otherwise undistinguished plot. Although I am by no means an expert, I made this simple circular design quite easily over a couple of days. It is not difficult to source suitable materials locally and online and plenty of advice is available too. This mosaic is located in an
I took inspiration from a great book by Maggie Howarth, who knows a thing or two about the subject!
Having chosen your spot, sketch a few ideas and think what materials could be used to achieve the desired effect. You may already have materials you want to incorporate into the design—leftover quarry tiles perhaps or roof slates. Varying the size and colour of the material will make it more interesting. It could be an abstract pattern or a favourite motif. A scaled sketch will be very useful as you can draw in the larger stones to scale and calculate how many you will need. The simplest designs can be the most effective – the interest comes from the textures and colours of the pebbles.
This mosaic is located in an area of paving which doesn't get any heavy traffic and has been constructed accordingly. If you want to build your mosaic in a driveway you will need a more robust construction.
- 50-60 large white cobbles (approx. 8cms)
- Shards of dark slate for perimeter
- small white stones
- small golden stones
- Large black skimmers for sun rays
- Sharp Sand
- Building Sand
- 1 metre diameter steel hoop (or other edging)
- Gardening gloves
- Straight piece of wood for tamping down pebbles
- Spirit level
- Old brush
- Hard core/ scrap brick and stone pieces
First of all you need to choose a suitable place for the mosaic—you will need enough depth to accommodate the pebbles and 10 to 15 cm hardcore or course stone. Once you have chosen the site, dig it out to the subsoil level. Your pebbles will need a solid edge to lean against—this could be slabs, stone, bricks or concrete. Use a spirit level to make sure all is straight. I went for a 20 cm deep steel hoop because I knew someone who could make me one and it was a neat solution. Once the edging is in place, put in around 10 cm of the hardcore and ram it down to form a compact base, filling any gaps with sand. Then add a dry mix of four parts sand to one part cement on top of this leaving enough room for the largest stones. You can use just sand for this layer - it will be less robust but will allow better drainage. Wear your gloves when working with cement as it burns the skin, and make sure the area has a waterproof covering if you leave it.
Placing the Stones
Plot out your design and lay out the biggest or deepest stones first – in this case the white cobbles, the slate shards around the edge and the black skimmer stones. Use an old plate to mark the central circle.
Two important points to ensure that you create a solid and successful mosaic:
Most of each stone needs to be beneath the surface with just the top edge showing.
It is important to have firm contact between the stones as they serve to support each other.
Once the largest stones have been placed raise the level around them with more dry sand/cement mix to the right height to bed the smaller stones in. Make sure the stones are arranged tightly together, tamped down and use the spirit level.
Once all the stones are laid and you are happy with the results, make a dry mixture of 3 parts fine sand to 1 part cement. Add this to the mosaic, making sure it is all well brushed in to all the gaps. You then need to soak it with water and leave it, covered, for three weeks.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
If the stones for a pebble mosaic are set in dry mortar it is difficult to tell if the water has saturated all the way down. So while I am sprinkling water, how do I know if there is too little, the right amount, or too much?
It might be useful for you to watch a video showing the construction process - there are some available on Youtube if you search for them. It is many years since I made my own mosaic so I'm a bit rusty about the process now! I'm an artist by profession so haven't done anything similar since.Helpful 5
How do I know when I have sprinkled my pebble mosaic with enough water?
I would try and sprinkle it evenly until it is fully saturated, then cover it with plastic for a few weeks.Helpful 2