13 November 2007

Garden Bloggers Design Workshop - Paths and Walkways

I'm jumping on the Design Workshop train, initiated by Gardens Gone Wild and first read about on Digging.

We installed a walkway this past winter in our backyard. Here's the finished product:

Here's the set up:

Our garage used to be connected to the back of our house via what was probably a strange utility room with a slab foundation. Sometime before we bought the house, the room was removed, but the slab and its requisite asbestos floor tiles remained. It looked gross and when it rains in Texas, it's a deluge, and we feared the rain was running under our pier-and-beam, causing problems.

These two photos awkwardly show the Before. Top: the house with the slab in the lower right corner. Bottom: the garage with the slab in the lower left corner.

We basically designed the new walkway and then contracted with a local firm called Dig It to do the work (remove the slab concrete, cut the limestone pavers, install steel, etc.). Well, I should also add that Laurie and Josh from Dig It brought a lot to the table in collaborating on the design. It was a pleasure to work with them.

Here are some process photos:

We learned quickly that blackland clay drains only slightly better than cement. This water drove us crazy during install and still plagues us during heavy rains. The new patio helps, but we still call it Lake Titicaca.

Looking at the new pavers through a gate we added as a dog barrier and entry point.

Our philosophy and thoughts:

We designed this walkway to connect the back door to the pea gravel patio and the "way back" (behind the garage). It doglegs around the garage and leads to the veggie garden and etc. Because it's meant to be a passage to take you to the outdoor patio and way back, it's designed to be wide and easy to walk on. I wanted a modern look, which would then be offset by the more woolly and bushy herbs and perennials near the house. We didn't want it to be too severe, which led to the decision to use limestone pieces of two sizes: square and rectangle. We then created a pattern where no pieces ever come together to make 4 corners. I read in a Japanese design book that 4 corners will draw the eye and serve as a focal point. I wanted the eye to simply float past the pavers.

Pea gravel surrounds the walkway, fills in the spaces between the limestone, and blends into the patio space.

Limestone is interesting in that it's organic enough to keep changing. Even over one summer, it's gathered dark spots from mold, and I think this also helps it to be less severe.

As a counterpoint to the square-cut, high traffic path, I used rough patio limestone to make a more meandering path through the herb garden. It's also a slower way to get to the patio (meant for garden-gazers, not full-time traffic).

Lessons learned? You bet: the pea gravel is forever finding itself on the limestone and drives me crazy. It's hard to sweep the pea gravel off, since the broom picks it up from within the spaces and moves it around. But, I like the look of the gravel in between the pavers, so I don't know if I'd do it differently or not. Still, one of those maintenance things that's annoying as hell.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic looking path! I love the clean, modern look, and you're right---it isn't severe at all. Excellent design. You didn't say, but were you pleased with the Dig It folks who installed it for you?

I would be concerned about the standing water too. Was there no way to regrade or slightly tilt the path so that water would drain off when it rains?

I hope you've let the Gardening Gone Wild folks know you posted. They're compiling a list of participants and will post it at the end of the month.

Thanks for showing us more of your garden.

Lee said...

Thanks Pam.

Yes, we were pleased with Dig It, but of course, their work has not been time-tested yet (being less than one year old). Laurie and Josh were a pleasure to work with. BTW, they did lay down a cement base under the pavers.

The walkway is graded slightly to allow for runoff, and it's much better than it used to be. But right now, the cement driveway acts like the edge of a pool. Our longer term plan is to rip out that cement and go with gravel. Once that happens I think it will drain much, much better.

Dig It: http://digitgardens.com/

Anonymous said...

Thanks for joining in the Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild, Lee. Your path is so inviting and fits beautifully into the space. Your idea of using different sizes of pavers was right on target, I think: The effect is pleasingly geometric without appearing overly formal. I love the wattle edging along your stepping-stone path, too. You've enticed me to read through your archives to see more photos of your garden. Thanks for sharing!

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Arielle Vargas said...

What are the dimensions of the rectangles and squares?

Arielle Vargas said...
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