garden path ideas
  • 1) Garden Path Ideas and Tips

Perfect Garden Path Tips

What To Do When You Dig And Discover Mushy Ground

Sometimes when you dig down in preparation for laying the substrate for your garden path, you find that the ground is very soft.

The good news is, you don’t have to keep digging to find hard ground. If you’ve come across mushy or peaty, wet ground, just use one 60 kg. bag of Portland Cement to every sq. yard or meter of surface.

  • Spread the dry Portland Cement evenly over the surface, and rototill it 6-8” into the soil.
  • Smooth the surface as desired. Let it set up overnight. (No wetting required.)

And, by the way, you don’t have to worry about whether you’re measuring with yards or meters – the proportion doesn’t really have a set ratio, because every individual’s garden soil varies. This is just a good general and generic guide to go by.

However, you do need to mix your Portland Cement evenly into the soil. Using a Rototiller (which you can rent at your local Home Improvement or rental store, if you don’t have one) is the most effective way to do it.

  • A Key Point About The Grade

Your first excavation needs to slope away from the house – and it should be at least a 3” slope.

It also needs to be the exact replica of your ultimate finished surface.

You do this with stakes and strings. (Garden stakes, construction stakes, bits of wood – whatever works for you to peg into the ground. Don’t get hung up on details, but do observe the basic principles.)

  • Making A 90° Angle: The “3-4-5” Rule

When you want to make a 90° angle with only a flat surface for a reference point (such as the wall of a house, or the sidewalk), use the “3-4-5” rule.

Measure out 2 marks, at 4” (or feet, meters, yards – any other multiple of 4”) along the straight edge of the road, wall or whatever your reference point is. (Make sure your reference point is straight.)

Measure yourself out 3 units from one of those marks.

If the distance between your new mark at 3” and the other end of that 4” mark is 5”, you are at exactly a 90° angle.

  • To Check If Two Objects Are Level To Each Other

You’ve decided to make a path, put in a shed, build the base for a gazebo, or some other project where you’d like it to be level with another large object (like your house). You’d like to check if your two objects dead level, but they are really far apart. They just don’t make a tape measure big enough.

Well, apart from the fact they probably do, there’s a simple way to get around this…

  1. 1.Get some garden hose, and insert a smaller piece of clear garden hose at each end.
  2. Tip up both ends vertically: one near the reference point, and one near the point you’re wondering about.
  3. Fill the hose with water so that the water rises visibly in the vertical clear hose at each end.
  4. Those 2 water levels will be perfectly level. Make your marks accordingly.

Since two garden hose ends are involved, and you need to keep them both upright, it’s a good idea to have one or more helper.

If you have to do this alone, simply tie one of the vertical clear hose ends onto a stake.

I hope these tips have helped further to de-mystify the process of making a perfect Garden Path.

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  • 2) Garden Path Ideas and Tips

De-Mystifying Garden Path Materials And Terms

When people start to read or listen to a straightforward set of instructions for creating a simple Garden Path, often what throws them for an unexpected loop are the garden path materials and terminology.

“Lay in a line of limestone screenings…”

Your Home Improvement or Building Supply professional rattles this off as easily as if he was telling you, “Turn left at the next lights”. But if you’ve never before done this type of Home Improvement project, he’s probably left you floundering in a stagnant pool of uncertainty.

So let’s de-mystify those terms and go into a little more depth. Once you’ve read this post, you can print out “How To Construct A Garden Path” without tripping over a single word.

Materials

  • Sand

A good alternative to fine sand, when you’re at the point of filling in the cracks on your finished path, is a polymerized sand. One readily available U.S. brand is Joint-Lock Polymeric Finishing Sand. Another is Magic Sand. This product has a glue in it which sets up after soaking with a hose. (And the hose pressure helps it go down into the cracks, too.)

  • Limestone Screenings

Your Home Improvement store will most likely not have this very fine form of gravel in stock. You can use the in-store gravel they’ll try to sell you – but I wouldn’t recommend it. The gravel
will end up being too big and round, difficult to compact. If your store doesn’t carry limestone
screenings, get them from a Gravel/Sand retailer directly.

Terms

  • Tamp

Thumping a heavy object on ground surface to compact it.

  • Work piece

Whatever object you are handling, with the intention of working on it (cutting, sanding, etc.)

  • Setting up

Hardening and setting (wet cement drying, glues drying, polymerized sand drying, etc.)

When undertaking any Home Improvement job, a major portion of eliminating confusion is making sure you understand the terminology.

  • If you don’t know what a tool is, ask the store professional to take you to one, and show you the features.
  • If you don’t know what a process, don’t be afraid to stop him right there and say: “Could you please explain what you mean by that term? I’m not familiar with it.”

Don’t let ego or timidity keep you silent. It’s your home. It’s their job to tell you how. The truth is Home improvement professionals will cheerfully do what you may be hesitant to do.

And that is, “When in doubt – ask.”

  • 3) Garden Path Ideas and Tips

How To Construct A Garden Path

Every summer, about 2,000,000 optimistic homeowners decide to install a garden path. They rush out to the Gardening Center or Home Improvement department store, spend an inordinate amount of time getting someone to help them calculate how many bricks they’ll need.

99% of the time, the store professional will warn them of the need to dig a proper bed for the path, and explain about substrates and sand. The homeowner listens with half an hour, convinced he knows perfectly well what’s being talked about, and dashes off.

Somehow, Joe Homeowner gets those puppies home; perhaps by delivery (having seen the famous photo of a Volkswagen buckled to the ground under a flat of bricks) or by having them marked as a “Will Call” and fetching them in smaller loads.

He rents a mini back-hoe, and has a fun afternoon peeling up a 6” layer of sod. He throws down 3 bags of sand, and sets his stones, filling in the cracks with sand or garden dirt. He graciously allows his wife to brush the stones off, and they admire his handiwork. Done.

A year later, he stares at the bucking, twisting, crumbling path and insists loudly there’s nothing wrong with it as his mother-in-law is carted away by ambulance, after severely injuring her ankle and hip in the course of tripping over one of the jutting bricks.

He should never have thrown away the little diagram the store professional drew for him. The one that looked like this:

The Correct Way To Install A Brick Path

Translated, the little drawing means the path is not just a single layer of bricks or paving stones, but an assembly. It’s a unit that has more layers than a Hero sandwich.Your bricks are just the top layer. The one you see. The real work of creating that perfect, professionally-laid path is determined by how carefully you prepare the layers beneath.

This is one perfectly professional way to install a simple brick path…

  1. Dig down the depth you will need. Calculate this by adding the depth of your pavers or bricks plus 1 ½” – 2” fine sand, plus 2 layers each of compacted limestone screenings.
  2. Tamp (compact) the exposed earth – a rented plate compactor is the best thing to use for this entire project.
  3. Lay in a “Lift” (layer) of limestone screening.
  4. Compact and smooth over top.
  5. Repeat step 4. (You will know that these are compacted properly when it is somewhat difficult to pound a 5 or 6 inch spike into them).
  6. Position vinyl edges along the desired sides of the pathway, and spike into position with 4” galvanized nails. Lay in a Lift of 1 ½”-2” fine sand.
  7. Compact the sand with your plate compactor and screed the top for uniform smoothness, using a 2’ X 4’ whose length equals the width of your pathway. Placing a nail at each end, at the appropriate spot, will allow the Screed to track along the top of the edgings. This will provide your finished Face at the same depth as your pavers.

Garden Path Designs

Lay in the pavers or bricks. If you are using a uniform, staggered pattern, start at one end, in one corner. Work along to the other end.

If you are adventuresome and creative, and wish to do a design with your pavers (possibly a radiating circle at the center point of the walkway) start at the center point of that design, and work to each end.

Because we do not line the end joints up on pavers, cutting will be involved. Even if the walk is the same width as a certain number of pavers, because of staggering, one brick in every other row will have to be cut.

Mark on the work piece where you want the cut on all 4 sides. Place the work piece on a firm hard surface (such as another paver). Position the brick set fully on the mark – you want the entire edge of the brickset contacting the workpiece.

Tap the brick set enough to make a little groove all the way across the face of the work piece. Repeat this on all 4 sides. You should now have a groove girdling the work piece. Be sure and keep the work piece on the hard, smooth surface. Place the brick set centered in one of the longer grooves so that its entire edge is fully contacting the groove, and the length of the brickset is very close to 90 from the face of the work piece. Give it a good healthy belt with your sledgehammer – usually only one is required – and amazingly, the workpiece is now 2, with a relatively smooth edge where your cut was just made.

Now all the bricks are in place. Compact them again with the place compactor, starting in the middle, and working to the edges and ends.

Use the finest sand you can find to fill in the cracks of the pavers. This is done by pouring sand over the top of the pavers, and is worked down in between by brooming over with a stiff push-broom. If you’ve used a polymerized sand like Magic Sand, be sure to finish by hosing it down, which will make the sand magically set up.

What you will have at the end of this process is a professional and pleasing garden path.

  • 4) Garden Path Ideas and Tips

Tools You Will Need To Make A Perfect Garden Path

Instructions are far less baffling, when you understand what the tools named in them actually do – and where you can find them.

“Screed”

This is a handy little smoothing gadget you can make yourself, virtually on the spot.

All you will need is a 2” X 4” piece of wood. If you don’t have one, buy one from the Lumber department, and get them to cut it so that the length equals the width of your desired pathway.

Hammer a nail into at each end of your piece of 2” X 4”, at the appropriate spot. Find the correct spot by measuring the ends of the 2” X 4” (as in the diagram) against the Edging, and making a mark with a pen. This will allow the Screed to track along the top of the edgings, eliminating the chance you will press and push too far in. This will ensure your finished Face will be the same depth as your pavers when your path is finished.

  • Cutting Tools

Because we do not line the end joints up on pavers, cutting will be involved. Even if the walk is the same width as a certain number of pavers, because of staggering, one brick in every other row will still have to be cut.

You can cut your paver one of two ways…

Wet Saw – the same saw you use to cut ceramic tiles. You can rent these at most rental places, or at your Home Improvement store (usually about $30-40 for the day). The advantage of this method: It is the easiest device to cut with.

Another cheaper and almost as easy way to cut them is to use a 3lb. sledgehammer or mallet, and a brick set.

Brick Set – A brickset is a broad, cold chisel used by masons. Cutting with this looks impressive, but is actually remarkably simple. The advantage of this method lies in simplicity and price: Buying one of these will cost about half the rental of the wet saw.

To use a Brick Set properly:

  1. Mark onto the workpiece (in this case, “the workpiece” being your paver or brick) where you want the cut. Be sure to mark on all 4 sides.
  2. Place the workpiece on a firm hard surface (such as another paver). Position the brick set fully on the mark – you want the entire edge of the brickset contacting the workpiece.
  3. Tap the brickset enough to make a little groove all the way across the face of the workpiece. Repeat this on all 4 sides. You should now have a groove girdling the workpiece. Be sure and keep the workpiece on the hard, smooth surface.
  4. Place the brickset centered in one of the longer grooves so that its entire edge is fully contacting the groove, and the length of the brickset is very close to 90 from the face of the workpiece.
  5. Give it a good healthy belt with your sledgehammer – usually only one is required – and amazingly, the workpiece is now 2, with a relatively smooth edge where your cut was just made.

Now all the bricks are in place. Compact them again with the place compactor, starting in the middle, and working to the edges and ends. You can now finish off your product by filling any gaps with the finest sand you are able to find, followed by a hosing down (if applicable) and your most technologically challenging tool of all – a thorough sweeping with a stiff push-broom.

  • 5) Garden path Ideas and Tips

Tips for Planning a Landscape Project

Landscaping is a big factor in giving a home its curb appeal. Curb appeal is what attracts people to a house from the outside. Without it, many sales don’t even get started. But you can create curb appeal whether you want to sell your house or not.

We all like to live in an attractive looking home. So if you have finished renovating your home, the next project may be some landscaping.

Here are a few tips to help you begin

  • Allow for the season. If you get blizzards in the winter, there is no use in digging and planting a new garden in late autumn. While you are waiting for spring, you can start to plan by taking note of where the shadows fall in your garden and where the water seems to pool. If you have a wet spot, you may care to use it for a bog garden or a natural water feature. Make a plan of your yard and see what you think suits it best.
  • Find out what kind of plants grow best in your area and what type of bugs might be a pest. You will also want your landscape to fit in with your current needs and still be able to adapt it to future needs. If you have children – or plan to – lots of grassy space is ideal for them to run and play. If you love to entertain, you might prefer to use some of that space for a pool, deck or barbeque area.
  • If you are still having major renovations or extensions done on your home or plan to in the near future, leave the lawn and garden until it is finished, otherwise tradespeople could be trampling or driving over your newly dug beds and squashing all those lovely flowers.
  • When you do create your garden, be sure to plant the sort of things that suit your lifestyle. If you want it to look good, but don’t like the idea of spending most of your free days working in the garden, then choose plants that are low maintenance like perennial shrubs and groundcovers. A beautiful shrub or two in the middle of a neatly cut lawn can look just as stunning as several square meters of annuals in full bloom.
  • If you hate to mow lawns or live in an arid area, consider replacing them with colored gravel. A spectacular front yard could be a small fishpond with red gravel surrounds, flanked by some small but stately grass trees and white boulders.

Landscaping is not only about plants and gardens though. Your landscaping projects could include a gazebo, a deck, a new barbeque area, a swimming pool or fishpond, a water garden with a fountain, or simply some flowerpots and deckchairs under a tree.