There’s not much difference in the way you’re going to create your stepping stone path if you’re setting it in a lawn than if you’re setting it in a spot where you’ll be planting softscape between the stones. Here’s what you’ll do differently:
When I built the stepping stone path shown in the How to Build a Stepping Stone Path DIY article, I set it in a well traveled, shady area where I could never grow much of any kind of grass. So the sod I removed was not stuff I wanted to grow elsewhere, I just wanted it off my path. When I removed a chunk, I simply shook out the dirt into my wheelbarrow and threw the remaining bits of nature into my yard waste bin.
Assuming you’ll be setting your path into a relatively healthy lawn, the sod you remove for each stone can be used to repatch small sections of grass elsewhere that have grown sparse or brown. Just remove the grass sod in chunks that are three inches thick; you’ll get one or two slabs of sod per stone. Place them on a tarp, wet them down, and move them all to a shady place when you’re done with your path. Use these for spot replacement within several days. Make two piles on your tarp; one for sod to be re-used, the other for the remaining soil, some of which you’ll be replacing around your stone. By using the tarp, you’ll protect the lawn in the vicinity of your path, and you’ll easily be able to move the chunks of sod when you’re done. Just drag the tarp and its contents to your shady spot.
Stepping stones laid across a lawn must be set flush with the ground. This way, when you mow your lawn, you can mow right over the path. When you’re figuring out how deep to make your holes, add 1” to your calculations. And when you set your stone, make sure it’s flush and level with the ground.
No matter how careful you’ve been, you’re going to have created some patches of lawn that are covered with soil. Especially right around your stones. Sprinkle some of your topsoil mix over the soil that’s currently showing on your lawn. Sprinkle a bit over any existing weak spots while you’re at it. Then spread grass seed wherever you see dirt.
This article is best used in conjunction with the Stepping Stone Path DIY Article.