The biggest project yet

I fell on my head over the weekend. Literally. I was staining the underside of the little overhang over the front door and I fell off the step ladder and went, as they say, a$$ over tea kettle. Don't worry, I'm fine. Saw a few stars, had a headache for a couple days, but all is well.

I tell you this because it may provide some explanation of what exactly I was thinking when I ordered somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 tons of stone products that I expect to be delivered before the weekend. Regular readers know I've been toying with this project for some time but in my grand tradition of biting off way more than I can comfortably chew, I expanded the project a little.

Trust me, though, it makes sense. As it turns out, stone isn't really that expensive. What is expensive is getting the stone delivered. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of stone yards near me so about 30% of the entire cost of materials for this project is going to be shipping and as long as I was paying it, I decided I was going to load that truck up.

The main portion of the project is creating a path from the patio to the detached garage. This is something Mr. Much More Patient has been wanting for a long time, and it makes sense. That path is well worn and since we walk it, shovel it and snowblow it year-round, it makes it an inhospitable place for grass to grow (which is already a challenge in our sandy soil).

You can see the graffiti attack of the back yard that outlines the future path and some garden beds.

Because I'm a sucker for a curvy path, I'll be incorporating some gentle curves in it (but not so drastic that you feel like you're walking out of your way to get to where you're going). It will be about 50 feet long and 3-1/2 feet wide. The material choices are where it gets, um, interesting.

A year and a half ago I rescued the bluestone from the patio at my grandmother's house (you can read about that here and here) which was torn down. I also rescued her bedroom door, which has become the door to our new bathroom, all of the glass doorknobs, which I haven't retrofit the existing doors for yet, and one other thing I haven't figured out what to do with (I'll go into it in another post because it's too hard to explain it succinctly). There wasn't enough bluestone for the entire path and I also feel that traditional bluestone is a little too formal for my house.

So the plan is to combine irregularly shaped flagstone along with the bluestone (which is not irregularly shaped but I intend to make it so) in the path. I've never seen a path like this and I'm not sure how it's going to work, but it seemed a shame to waste all that material that I had and who knows, it may end up being kind of neat. I haven't decided yet if I'll just intersperse the bluestone amongst the flagstone randomly or if I'll create "clusters" of bluestone at regularly spaced intervals. I plan to play around with the layout a little when I have all the stone.

This is the flagstone I chose for the path. It's called Fond du Lac Silver and it's more of a uniform gray color. Since I'm already mixing with bluestone I didn't want to get too colorful. And it should tie in well with the light gray skirting on our deck. I ordered two-thirds of the path stone in "steppers," which are described as being 8 to 18 inches and the other one-third in flagstone, which is 2 to 3 feet.

I've had a short flagstone path from the patio through the garden for eight years now and I have tried to grow damn near everything between those stones. The most successful attempts have been creeping thyme and Irish moss, but all the walking and shoveling we do on the path during the winter makes it almost impossible to keep it growing from year to year and it has become and expensive proposition to replace a lot of it each spring. So I've decided to nix the idea of anything growing between the stone at all and I'll be putting in gravel around it. It's called Raven Black, and it's a dark gray gravel that I hope will create a more cohesive look between the flagstone and bluestone. I'll hold it all in there with aluminum edging.

Ravenblack 3 4
Raven Black gravel

This is sort of the look the mini-retaining wall will have. I ordered 2- to 3-inch tall stone, and of course my wall will be shorter than the one shown here. I also ordered this in Fond du Lac Silver, shown below.

Lg 1

The second part of the project is the addition of two small retaining walls I'll use to create more level garden beds off the new deck. I've been wanting to add some multi-tiered garden beds ever since I fell in love with the gardens at the Hotel Iroquois in Mackinac Island and with a sloped back yard, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. In a perfect world this is not a project I would take on in the same year (and so late into the spring) as I was tackling the garden path, but it only made sense to buy all the materials at the same time given the high delivery charge. And since I a.) don't have a place to store 2.2 tons of retaining wall flagstone and b.) sure as heck am not moving all that stone twice, the retaining walls will be going in this year too. And while I've laid a few small paths and have a pretty good idea on the process, I'm relatively clueless on the retaining wall building process, so that ought to be very interesting.
Oh, and I've got a bunch of relatives coming to town for Memorial Day so I'd love to have it mostly done by then.

OK, maybe I hit my head harder than I thought.


  1. Maybe you can just ask the relatives to help when they get there! Great family bonding time.....moving tons of rock!

  2. Wow...that's is a lot of work to do!!! I think it sounds great though, and should look amazing once you're done, can't wait to see it!

  3. It is a lot of work but will be worth it. We are in the midst of digging out a 100 foot long curving path that has been bark mulch and we are changing it to gravel. A lot of work and initial expense but well worth it in the long run. We have a lot of stone work in our garden and it makes such a difference. I think it gives a sense of age and purpose and raises it above most gardens one sees. And, if you do the work yourself, that really makes it special!


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