How to Make a Garden Sized Stone Cairn

The history of stone cairns is murky; no one knows the exact significance of a pile of stones placed individually. They have been found in Ireland, Scotland and all over the northern part of the United States. Whether they have spiritual significance or were simply a method of marking a place of meaning, they can give an otherwise basic scene a mysterious kind of beauty. Create your own calming garden look by forming a personal-sized stone cairn in your garden. No two are alike, and the final size and shape are up to you.

The meaning and significance of your personal stone cairn is up to you.

Step 1

Collect stones that are smooth and have flat surfaces.  Look in the woods, near streams or at the beach to find stones that have been smoothed over by nature.

Choose stones about the size of the palm of your hand for the central part of the cairn, and smaller and larger ones for the base and top.  The total number of stones is your decision.

Step 2

Wash the collection of stones under running water with a scrub brush.  Remove all bits of dirt and sand that may adhere to the stones.

Allow them to air dry for 24 hours in the sun. 

Step 3

Place the largest stone on a flat and level spot in your garden.  Pull up the grass a bit to level the surface if you need to.

Arrange the stone so the flattest and most attractive side faces up. 

Step 4

Stack the stones, one by one, into a pile or small tower.  Keep the larger stones toward the bottom of the cairn and place the smaller ones toward the top.

Use your own artistic eye to arrange the stones into a pleasing look. 

Step 5

Leave the stones to stay in the garden as they are, or stick them together into a more permanent structure by gluing them together with silicone glue. 

Things You Will Need

  • Stones
  • Scrub brush
  • Silicone glue


  • Allow the grass to grow up around your cairn for a more natural look.


  • Place the cairn to the side of your yard in a protected spot where it won't be in danger from the lawnmower.

About the Author

Working in sunny Florida, Anne Baley has been writing professionally since 2009. Her home and lifestyle articles have been seen on Coldwell Banker and Gardening Know How. Baley has published a series of books teaching how to live a frugal life with style and panache.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images