Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Operation EVEN STEP

The path on the side of our house runs from the garage to the patio off our dining room. However, if you were in our backyard and needed to get to the garage, I would have suggested you walk through the house. And if your shoes were covered in mud or worse, I would still have suggested a tour of the house rather than risk your neck on the path.

See what I mean! That thing was scary. And my husband and I were tempted to pretend we didn’t see it (for like 10 years), but one day I started picking up pine cones over there, and I couldn’t stop. I started cleaning up the leaves next, and eventually I started pulling up stones. Once I get started on something it’s hard for me to stop until it’s “perfect” or at least close to how I envision it.

Ben was a good sport about the project as well. He, like most of our projects, had to do most of the heavy lifting, and some of those stones were huge. We also went even further than just removing the pinecones, leaves, and stones. We ripped out all the nasty, rotting railroad ties that bordered the path as well. It was a very productive day … followed by four weeks of very unproductive days. Our back porch was a rock garden for the entirety of that time, but eventually we got back out there.

First we wanted to level out the path. Over the years roots had grown across the path. We considered removing them, but there was no way to do so. They were HUGE! We had no choice but to build the path up. We went to a big box store to get some sand, but it would have cost us $60 plus just for sand. We live 5 minutes from a beach, so I wasn’t about to pay that much. Luckily we didn’t have to go steal beach sand because Ben found a local place that filled the bed of his truck with sand for $10. Check your local businesses for similar deals.

Before we poured the sand, we laid a weed barrier fabric on the ground. They had three options of longevity: 10, 20, or 30 years. We went with 30 because I don’t feel like pulling those stones up any time soon to lay down more.

To keep the fabric in place we purchased some brick pavers as our new path liner. They don’t rot! We placed them on the edges of the fabric that we laid out to be the exact size of the path we wanted.

Next came the sand. We spread it out as best we could when it was dry, but had much better luck getting is smooth when it was wet. It didn’t feel pretty though. It was like muck and I was covered in sand from head to foot. I intended to use a trowel to smooth out the sand along the path, but like I so often do, I ditched the tool for my own two hands. Ben will vouch that I frequently give up on hand tools for things like putty, caulk, even sometimes paint, and just use the tools God gave me.

Next we laid the stone back on the path. It was like a huge puzzle with no right answer. Basically we laid the large stones first so they would be evenly distributed throughout, and then filled in the holes with the smaller ones.

Then it was time for more sand … yeah (said with forced enthusiasm)! We filled in the space between the stones almost completely with sand, but we left enough room to fill the final space with pebbles. In total the project was under $100, but definitely time and work intensive. 
If you'll notice there isn't a picture of the finished product. That's because we finished one hour before we went and adopted a puppy, who subsequently came home and destroyed our path. So if you are planning on getting a puppy, my suggestion would be to skip the outdoor projects for a while.

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