A path's journey

Unrealistic ambition strikes again. Last week I told you about what I think is the biggest project I've taken on yet. I didn't lay out the timeline (other than to say that I wanted it to be finished as soon as possible and hopefully before several relatives come into town for Memorial Day). But in the back of my mine, I was really thinking I'd get the whole thing more or less finished over the weekend. Not completely finished, mind you, but finished all but a few bits and pieces that I could take care of on a few nights after work.

Like pretty much every other project that I've taken on my life, that was a completely unrealistic concept. It also happened to be the weekend for our master gardeners' plant sale so I was working at that all morning Saturday until about 3 p.m. and when I walked out of the building where it was held it was pouring. Day 1 was shot (although I did put it to use on an indoor project I'll fill you in on later in the week).

Then Sunday morning I got a later start than I anticipated, so by the time I got out there and had all my tools assembled, it was a bit after 9 a.m. I was thinking about doing a time-lapse video throughout the day, but the thought of editing all the video was intolerable (I've made several videos for blog posts and never posted any because it's such a pain to edit them). So I tried to take pictures about every hour or so from the same place so you could see how it came together.

9:15 a.m.

The outline of the path was cut Thursday so at least that part was finished going into the big work day.



10:15 a.m.

I pulled out all the sod. I was moving the dirt we dug up to a new garden area so I wanted the sod separated out.



11:30 a.m.

Help arrives! Mr. Much More Patient came back from work and we each started at an end digging down about 7 inches to allow for road base. We tried using the Kubota borrowed from his workplace, but we didn't have the digging arm attached so we ended up doing it all by hand.



1 p.m.

The dogs decided it was time to go to the beach for a walk in between the last update so to the beach we went (note tired dogs laying in the driveway and Mr. Much More Patient checking his e-mail in the garage) and not much looks like it was accomplished since the previous picture.



2 p.m.

Still digging. Make it stop.



3:30 p.m.

Finally, the digging is finished.



Here's a close-up of our crazy soil. There are a lot of areas in our property where it is obvious that fill (mostly clay) was brought in (the garage used to be next to the house and was moved so a lot was brought in for that), but this shows what I think the native soil is mostly like. The top layer is top soil that is a little bit clay-ish. The middle layer is a deep, dark lovely hummus-rich loam and the reddish bit at the bottom is sand. I'm not sure why it is red, perhaps there's a lot of iron in it, but it sure is nice to dig in.



5:15 p.m.

After some final edging and a little clean up and raking (and trip to the grocery store), we started putting the road base in. We thought it would be easier to install the aluminum edging if there was some road base for the stakes to bite in to. The Kubota did come in handy for this part of the job. You'll notice in the foreground that an ice cold beer (or two) also came in handy.



6:30 p.m.

With a massive thunderstorm threatening we worked quickly to get the metal edging installed. I'm not overly thrilled with how the edging looks right now, but I'm hoping once we get more road base in it will even out the curves a bit.



So that's where we ended for that day. If storms hadn't rolled through all night, I would have come back out after dinner to put in some more road base and compact it and maybe even start laying down some stones.

A few observations on the path:

1. It's curvier than I originally intended it to be. I'm not sure how that happened. I think when I started cutting the edges it looked funny so I freestyled a bit. There will be garden beds on both side of it for part of the length so I think that will help quite a bit with the curviness. Also, it's actually mostly a straight walk to the garage with the exception of the bigger curve in the middle. I hope I don't end up regretting its design, but I'm certainly not changing it at this point.

2. The digging was by far the worst part and there are parts where we simply couldn't dig as deep as I would have liked. By the garage, for instance, we hit gravel about 5 inches down. But since we're essentially putting gravel in, we figured that was ok and we'll just put a thin layer of road base there.

3. Since we did the edging in kind of a hurry, I have to go back and check that it's high enough. Since we're putting gravel in between the stones I do not want them intermingling with the grass or, worse yet, the dirt from the garden beds falling into the path (weed city).

4. We did not put down any landscaping fabric. In my experience that stuff just makes more work down the line. It does a good job preventing weeds for about a year, but eventually bits of dirt and weed seeds get into the path and then the landscape fabric actually works against you buy holding the dirt in and giving the weeds a place to grow.

Obviously there's a lot more to do so stay tuned. And if you're planning on taking on a ridiculous path of your own, this one is about 50 feet long, 3.5 feet wide and we had two people working in for about half the time. The rest of the day I was on my own. If we had friends who owed us a lot of money, we could have made them work it off for the digging portion and it would have gone much faster.


  1. its looking fantastic! i love that its curvy.

    i would love it if you would send me a few finished pics of your portico. work on our house will start in about a month and want to use yours as my inspiration if you don't mind.


  2. No problem, Londen. Let me see if I can find some already taken, if not I can snap a few for you tonight or tomorrow morning.

  3. You are too funny, Erin! I might have helped, had I been there. You know, brought you more beer. LOL.

    It's beautiful and makes me want to get at ours, as I want to make it wider than it is, and neaten it up a bit. It's not as long as yours though.

    There's always something to do, isn't there? Every year, I feel very overwhelmed at this point. It would help if I stayed home though. LOL. I'm home for several weeks now.

  4. We just started digging a 100 ft. curving path that we are changing from bark to gravel. It is under a number of 50-year-old trees so roots are the issue here. Very interesting to watch your process. We started pulling up the wood chips two summers ago and are only now doing the digging down so you are a speed demon from our perspective! It is slow, hard work. As for the curves, some plants will hang over so they will soften it no matter how you do it initially. And I know that I spend most of my time on any path looking down at the flowers, so the fact that it is curved or straight doesn't matter in that sense. I have to have Mark read this to see if we are missing any steps in our plan.

  5. Oh gosh, Linda, I feel for you. I hope to god I love this path because once it's done I don't ever want to touch it again! A hundred feet is crazy long! And good point about the curves.

  6. Good grief! What a lot of work. It looks terrific, though, and I like the curve! Much more interesting than a straight shot or even a wide sweep. (if that makes ANY sense at all - ha!)

    I can't wait to see the finished product! Congrats on getting so much done so far! It's going to be great!


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it. I try to respond to comments here or sometimes via email so make sure to check back.