Side path project

I'm whipping through my list of garden projects: first the trellis, now the path that runs next to that trellis. If you remember, this path is on the south side of the house and turns into a stream whenever it rains.

I somehow managed to keep wood chip mulch here all of last season, but this spring we had a heavy rain that cleared it all away, leaving a compacted muddy slope.


The compaction isn't just from walking on it either -- water running over a slope will compact the soil too.

I've recently decided that a dry creek bed of sorts would be the answer here, and over the weekend I jumped in.

Step one was to remove some soil, emphasizing the "channel" that the water already follows:

Ideally this would be made several inches deep, but I only took 2-3" (5-7cm) or so out.

Next, landscape fabric:

I learned years ago that rocks of almost any size when placed on bare soil will eventually work themselves into that soil, so the fabric is essential to keep the gravel clean.

(I knew I wouldn't be able to complete the entire path in one day, so I started with the top part.)

I chose a mix of "river pebbles" which are the larger stones, and "pea pebbles" which are smaller and would help lock everything together. Remember that this is also a path so needs to be a bit more solid -- I can't stand walking on loose gravel.

After getting some of the rocks in...

...I realized that what was missing were the steppers that the lower half of the path had:

They would not only give human feet a nice solid surface to connect with, but would help stabilize the gravel to help keep it from sliding down the slope.

So off to Kirkwood Material Supply to get some weathered field stones...

...which then got set into the gravel:

The next day it rained but I tried digging a little more after it stopped:

It was much too muddy and not a bit of fun.

I was able to finish up the lower section last evening though:

The darker (wetter) stones show you which part I completed yesterday.

All that is left now is to figure out what to do at the lower end. I may try to redirect the water a bit instead of letting it wash straight down the yard or under the deck as it does now.

I suspect that a very heavy rain might be able to wash some of the gravel away, but this seems like it will be a good solution to the problem, and looks so much nicer than it ever has.

Bring on the next project!


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Mark and Gaz  – (May 28, 2015 at 8:39 AM)  

Looks great, also like it's always been there!

outlawgardener  – (May 28, 2015 at 9:22 AM)  

Look at you go! You're a project maniac! The path looks really great.

Alan  – (May 28, 2015 at 9:52 AM)  

Mark/Gaz: Funny you say that, as I feel the same way already -- I almost can't remember what it was like before!

Peter: The Sustainable Backyard Garden Tour is June 14, so I'm driven to get these done!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 28, 2015 at 1:14 PM)  

Hey, feel like hopping on a plane to Sacramento? I have lots of projects to do :-)

Teri  – (May 28, 2015 at 9:14 PM)  

Smashing! Looks really nice Alan.

Barbie  – (June 10, 2015 at 6:34 AM)  

Hi Alan!! I see you have Blue Kale!! I am hunting everywhere for them - do you collect seeds?
The brassica problem is a pain for me too. Try growing chives and thyme around them - this will confuse the nasties that attack them. So far for me so good!!

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