Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Laying A Natural Stone Walkway.

It takes us a long time to accomplish anything around here, so it's no surprise that even though we started this project at the end of August (last summer) we didn't get around to actually doing anything until this year. After getting the walk trenched out we were ready to lay our stone... Almost.

Every tutorial out there will tell you that your first step after digging is to lay crushed gravel and pack it down as a drainage-bed for your walk. Well luckily for us, under the sod and singular inch of topsoil that is what our entire lot is composed of, crushed and packed gravel. Score one for team lazy & cheap! It meant one less step of back-breaking labour for us. 
ooh gravel-ly

Next up was filling the walk with sand. But not just any sand and certainly not coarse sand, but beach-type fine sand. While we compared quotes from local suppliers, the Freebie Gods smiled and shone light on a very free, very perfectly fine heap of sand. Guess where we got it? It was an after-product of the annual spring street sweeping the municipality does after the snow is 100% gone. 

I`m going to admit, I was being lazy in my blogger duties and did not 1)take a picture of the timely and entirely free sand pile, B)take any pictures of us spreading the sand, or Cat)take any pictures of us laying the stone slabs. So please feel free to imagine a somewhat magically sparkling sand pile in the middle of an enchanted wood (instead of the dull-ish heap on the side of the road that it was), and us wielding our shovels like muscle-tastic heroes of yore (the reality was our gangling and winter-soft bodies sweating profusely while we moaned about how shovelling sand was the

Because we were working with imperfect stone slabs (not quarried, cut or manufactured but natural breaks only), we kind of just winged the project at this point. Our trench wasn't level. At all. There were sections that we had intentionally dug deeper to accommodate some of the hulking gargantuan mass of stone that we had picked because they were oh-so-smooth. We were thumbing our noses at every DIY tutorial out there. No level trench, no 2x4 screed, no measuring tape or surveyors twine. Just us, our jaunty attitudes, some shovels and a rake. There was a lot of guess-work involved, and a lot of shifting, re-levelling, shifting again.. but it worked. 
(according to this iphone picture of not quite levelled stepping stones, I'm a liar, or forgetful.)

Oh how it worked. (YMMV of course)

After getting the sand and stone settled in a pattern we were happy with, we wrangled the edging into place and spread some fancy-schmancy landscapers "marble" (pfft yeah right) around the walk to highlight the natural stone (and also to keep it from looking like a muddy, foul mess).

Believe it or not, in most places there is 4-6 inches of buried stone. The shallowest stones we salvaged on our many hikes were 2-3 inches. Yowza. At best, each weighs 40-60lbs, at worst up to120lbs (that's more than I weigh. So. Yeah. As you can guess I wasn't much help when it came to moving or positioning the larger/thicker stones). Though this was a very long, heavy-lifting type dirty job, it was 100% worth it. We're both happy with the results, and can already visualize what it will look like with a fence and re-built veranda. 

Curb appeal, we're getting there.. slowly.