Finishing the walkway

After several posts about the construction and plantings, you'd think I'd be done writing about the walkway. There was one more detail that I hadn't finished yet though, and it required some time to pass: filling the cracks.

I had filled them about halfway with the "screenings" (small gravel and powder), and was not yet certain what I'd be using to fill the rest of the way to to the top: more screenings, or polymeric sand. I also wanted to give the screenings that were already there a chance to get washed down a bit by rain -- let them settle a bit. So over the past two weeks I let things settle, researched polymeric sand a bit more, and made my decision.


I decided to use the screenings. The only reason I didn't want to use them in the first place was that I was concerned with the small stones and grit that might get tracked into the house. So I was contemplating the sand, which forms a flexible "mortar" that is great for weed suppression and would take care of the "little stone and grit" problem.

What I learned though is that polymeric sand:

  1. Can only be used in joints of up to 1/2" (12mm) wide -- some of mine are much wider
  2. Should be used to the entire depth of the cracks, a minimum of 1" (25mm)
  3. Doesn't last forever and will eventually need to be replaced
  4. Is not water permeable when correctly installed

After reading all of this, I decided to take my chances with the grit and weeds and go with the screenings. Let's get to it!

First I had to remove lots of fallen leaves from the cracks. This was tedious by hand and was one of the few times I've ever regretted not having a leaf blower.

Next I had to decide where my 'Elfin' creeping time would be planted. I bought a six-pack of this awesome groundcover to tuck into pockets in the walkway, so had to find appropriate spots. I didn't want it in the center of the walkway, just on the edges.

this looks like a good spot

This plant (or one very much like it) has been doing really well for me on the patio stairway landing:

It's spread into the cracks quite well, and is even cascading over the edge:

I can probably remove that part and plant it somewhere else next year. My point is, the thyme loves growing in the screenings!

I had to scoop some of the gravel base out to create more of a planting hole, and divided most of these into multiple parts:

I'm hoping they will do well here, but I don't know if they'll get enough sunlight to thrive. Thyme doesn't do well unless it has loads of sun, at least here.

With the plantings sorted and the leaves cleared, it was just a matter of dumping the screenings and sweeping them into the cracks:

It makes a huge visible difference, like when grouting tile:

After all of the cracks were filled, a rough sweeping to remove the extra:

Then a second sweeping to clean things up more:

Finally, some water to wash everything down:

When I built the patio several years ago I took a lot of time to actually pack the screenings in between the stones using sticks and other tools for jamming between the stones. For this project I decided to just let rain and gravity do the packing. It will take more time and possibly require more screenings to be added later, but it's so much less work. Plus I don't want the cracks filled to the very top (to help with the grit issue) so would appreciate a bit more settling.

One thing I didn't consider when building this is the slope of the yard. Water collects in this one area:

It quickly drains away though (glad I skipped the polymeric sand!) so shouldn't be much of a problem.

So that's the last walkway post I've got planned for this year, unless something unexpected happens, like a lightning strike or raccoons deciding they can use some 'Elfin' thyme and dig it up.

I've already mentioned that I'm happy with the way the walkway has turned out, but now it's even better!


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (October 9, 2012 at 10:30 AM)  

I'm a big fan of flagstone, and your walkway looks fantastic. If the Elfin thyme thrives there, why not add a few pockets in the middle of the walkway for contrast?

Unknown  – (October 9, 2012 at 7:42 PM)  

Great job Alan!
Very nice and neat.
Elfin thyme is a great choice..Let Mother Nature fix up the rest and you'll be walking on cool grounds your feet ever laid on :)

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (October 9, 2012 at 9:29 PM)  

Its stunning! Another beautiful area in your garden!

Barbie  – (October 10, 2012 at 8:40 AM)  

Wow - looks awesome! Finished off beautifully. Well done - master path maker!

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