When marking off an area for a sidewalk or patio, it can be difficult trying to dig around the layout string. To solve this problem, hammer in the stakes and attach the string, then sprinkle flour in a line on top of the string.
Remove the string and dig along the flour line.
To make a curved pattern, layout a garden hose in the shape desired.
Sprinkle the flour on top of the garden hose to form a layout line.
Remove the hose and dig along the pattern where the hose was.