Choosing the right path (2)

The front of our lawn is garnished with a raised bed filled with perennials, and we are continually moving, adding, and subtracting residents as we feel the urge. Planting closer to the street allows passing neighbors to enjoy the view, and the grass berm serves as a deterrent to pet potty stops among the plants. The bed is bisected by a path that offers access for busy feet and egress for rain water rushing to the curb. Now that the bed is well-established I am ready to change the look of this path and make it gardeny (which is not a word but should be).

I sketched a rough idea and passed it to Shawn. She agreed the path needed an upgrade, and she liked my proposal.

I wanted a miniature terrace garden in the path, although the slight slope would not offer much in the way of terracing. I retrieved sections of granite backsplash from a recent tile job and proceeded to make rock dust. Cutting stone is a noisy and dirty endeavor but a sense of accomplishment erupts when the piece snaps along the line. I know it is not a statue of David, but, hey, I can pretend.

Choosing the right path (3)

Wear safety glasses when cutting or hammering the stone and protect the eyes.

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Using my trusty hand-mattock and a level I made short work of placing the cross pieces. I could envision rain water tricking over the falls on the journey to the street.

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Broken pieces of granite divided into smaller chunks added interest to the path. Once the whole shebang is backfilled with good soil and covered with spreading plants it should blend with the garden.

Choosing the right path (6)

Choosing our path is often trial and error. Sometimes our conscience warns us within a step or two we’ve strayed into danger. At other times we may be far down the path before we check our bearings and realize we executed a wrong turn. David invested many days in the wilderness and understood the importance of the path.

Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Psalm 25:4 NASB

My path design was an error. It was the wrong path. The color of the tiles clashed with the natural look of the garden. We wanted the path to disappear in favor of the plants, not stand out like the beacon at RDU.

Backing up to correct our course in life can be a challenge, but charging forward on the wrong path is foolishness. Deleting a path under construction is easy. I removed the granite, saving it for a future project.

Choosing the right path (7)

Dividing Path, Version 2.0 was underway. The end next to the street must impede water flow enough to prevent erosion from heavy runoff. Recycled sections of a retaining wall were the perfect choice. We played with several orientations but chose to leave open wedges between them to accommodate creeping phlox.

Choosing the right path (8)

Placing pavers in a random arrangement is surprisingly time-consuming but the look has to be right. An initial 2” of soil served as a mounting medium for the stones. If the path is intended for high traffic or heavy loads this foundation is the wrong choice. Our path is for very occasional use so the free-floating stones will settle in over time.

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Once the pavers are in place an additional 2” of soil was added to bring the path level with the surface.

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We tamped the soil and settled the pavers by walking on them.

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For the greenery we chose ground cover plants:

  • John Creech Sedum
  • Silver Edge Thyme (may grow to 10” high but we loved the plant)
  • Fort Hill Creeping Phlox
  • Emerald Blue Moss Phlox
  • Coral Carpet Stonecrop Sedum
  • Moss plugs from the back garden

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The plants have space to spread out, and I will trim as needed. In spite of what many people believe, tending the garden is the oldest profession.

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We watered heavily to soak the new soil, hydrate the plants, and settle the steppers. Note my dirty knees. I give thanks for the ability to kneel in the garden and for a garden to kneel in.

After several days of heavy rain the plants are thriving and the soil remains stable. The grass will fill in to hide the edge of the wall stones this season while the phlox spreads to soften the look even more next season.

Choosing the right path (1)

It’s time to sit on the porch with a glass of ice cold water and enjoy the new path.