The History and Uses of Stepping Stones in Outdoor Spaces

Stepping stones have been an important part of human history for thousands of years since people first needed to traverse a difficult terrain. They serve many purposes, from getting across a stream to creating a beautiful pathway in a garden.

The origins of stepping stones

Historically, stepping stones were used as a practical solution to get safely across a body of water. People would use stones already present in the river or stream, but over time the use of purposefully placed stones became more common.

The also had other purposes: in Japan, for example, stepping stones were placed in gardens and around temples to help practitioners slow down and focus their mind as they walked mindfully over them.

Using stepping stones in modern times

In the modern era, stepping stones are still used for practical reasons, such as providing a safe and stable way to cross a stream or to traverse muddy or uneven ground. They are now also commonly utilised to add a decorative or visually interesting element to outdoor spaces such as gardens and backyards.

Stepping stones can be employed to deliberately create a sense of movement and rhythm in gardens, like a meandering pathway through a flowerbed or vegetable garden, or a path to a special feature like a fountain or bench.

Choosing the right type of stone can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden. Natural stone pavers can add a rustic look, while polished stones or porcelain options can give a more modern, sleek appearance.

The versatile nature of stepping stones makes them ideal for adding an element of surprise to an outdoor space. They don’t have to be used just for pathways, but also can be placed in unexpected locations, like in between flower bushes or as accents in a rock garden.


Stepping stones have been used for practical purposes for millennia, and in modern times are still used to cross bodies of water but can also serve as a decorative element in gardens and backyards.

They can bring much to outdoor spaces of all types, whether it by serving a practical need or by adding to the aesthetic appeal of an outdoor area. By playing with size, shape and colour, the right stepping stones can create a unique, eye-catching, and memorable experience for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors.

Photo by photonblast on Unsplash

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