John and I worked last month on replacing a few stone pathways that were around our property. Most of them come off of the pool patio, which is a stamped faux-brick finish. The pathways were just white path stones, some had become uneven and were a bit scary to walk on. Here's a shot from when we first bought the house, you can see one of the pathways on the lower right.
To wet your whistle, here's a shot of the same location, new pathway
So, we planned our choice of pathway to work with the faux-brick but also go with what might replace the hated faux-brick in the distant future. We went with cobblestone, first thinking we might just pack it with sand, but later deciding to use polymer sand in the joints. Polymer sand packs in like sand, but then hardens upon contact with water.
First, we (and that would be the royal "we" as I did not participate in the early prep stage, but I shined in the layout phase) dug out all the existing flagstones and dug down about 4-6 inches. We laid in about 4 inches of paver base and at least 2 inches of sand base on top of that.
The next phase was my responsibility, so I slathered on the sunscreen and my ipod and began laying stones.
The biggest challenge is getting a good pattern of small and large stones. That and keeping your sanity as you debate for 10 minutes to yourself on whether it would be over the top to use two small rectangle blocks or whether a large square would be a better fit.
John wasn't quite off-duty as whenever the path needed to turn, he would have to custom cut some blocks for me.
Doesn't he look hot in that protective shield? I meant hot like temperature, what did you think I meant? Get your mind out of the gutter!
We had four pathways to build. Here I am working on one of the gate pathways.
I did some special features on each of the pathways to give them some character, I'll show you what I mean in the upcoming photos.
Once layout was done, we swept polymer sand into all of the joints. This is a very repetitive task as the sand slowly works its way down, holes open up where you thought you had filled the joint. So you just keep sweeping it over the joints, again and again and again. The polymer sand is then activated by spraying a light mist of water over it for a few seconds, then repeating it a few times every 5-10 minutes.
And here they are:
On this pathway, we already had the edging for the beds laid out. I chose not to cut stone to fit the curve exactly in order to leave some planting triangles where I could put some heat-tolerant plants, like these portulaca. I think they do well at softening the look of the pathway.
This path we lined on one side with leftover limestone from a past project of the previous owner. This helped keep the mulch in the bed as that side of the garden had gotten built up a bit higher. I also gradually increased the width of the path (you can see a bit of the increase on the lower left corner of the photo) . Plants will fill in where the path steps out gradually.
This path already had red edging to hold the mulch back in the beds, so we just did a straightforward path between the edging with two turns in the path where we had to make custom cuts.
This pathway connects to..,
I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the beautiful river rock into this pathway and got inspiration from Diana and her gorgeous mixed-rock pathway. I lined the path with Peruvian moon rock (the darker blue-gray rock) and Arizona River Rock and will slowly fill in more plants along the edge once fall arrives.
Took a few weekends and lots of tag-teaming as one of us worked while the other watched the kids. I'm very pleased with the results and I highly recommend the use of the polymer sand. Although it can be hard to find. We finally found it at Custom Stone Supply in their Round Rock location.
Another BIG task checked off our list. Phew!