After two back-breaking Saturdays, I think I can put a cherry on top of my project and call it complete. At least this phase of it. There has been this unsightly patch of ground between my driveway and the back patio that has bugged me ever since I've lived here. Just a few straggling clumps of grass, but mostly dirt and leaves. (In the photos below, to the right of the path, you can see what I'm talking about. The entire area was like that.) It's pretty much like the takeoff and landing strip for The 409, and has a higher volume of foot traffic than any other area in my yard. So no wonder it won't grow grass, and no wonder it's just ground up leaves and dirt. And when it rains, it's just a glorified mud hole. The entire back yard has had a rather marsh-like quality to it for several months now, it seems. With the ground being so moist, and with a tiny little budget from my tax refund, I decided that now was the time to do something about it. My scrapbooking girlfriends will tell you that I'm probably one of the most anal peole they know, and sometimes my attention to detail will bog me down for hours. So it was with my pathway project. I looked at designs on line. I looked at the free magazine from Lowes on how to make a walkway using paving stones. I looked at Home Depot, Lowes, and Wal Mart until I believe they all know me by name in the lawn and garden departments. I would make up my mind to use paving stones. Then I decided to use Quikreet and their molds to make my own cobblestone path. Then I thought about using bricks. I considered just digging a trench and pouring some concrete. My delimma was that all the stuff I read about doing this particular project just took too many steps. Measure. Dig. Level. Sand. Level. Pea gravel. Level. Sand. Etc. I do not have the patience, the time or the money for all that. It's the Willie Dunahoo in me. I want it done now.
Let me just break here and issue a warning: If you are a construction worker, an architect, or just a guy (or girl) who knows how to do things, you might just want to click out of this post right now. I'm going to tell you how I created my pathway, and it might just make your head explode to read about it. I don't want that on my conscience, so please just leave now. :-)
A few folks, who are pretty good at knowing a lot of things about a lot of things, and who are also familiar with the terrain of said unsightly patch of ground, told me that since the ground is so wet, if i'd just smooth the area and get it fairly level, that the paver stones would settle themselves into the ground. Well, that sounded like a doable solution. Fortunately for me, said patch of ground is fairly level. And the ground has been so wet lately, you could probably hammer a wet noodle all the way to China.
Last Saturday morning found my mom and me at the Wal Mart in Athens, buying paving stones, pine bark mini-nuggets, edging, and sour cream. (The sour cream was for my dad. He loves onion dip.) Mom and dad helped me unload the 40 paving stones onto my driveway, and the excavation process got underway. So my dad has this flat-bottomed shovel, and I spent much of the afternoon just skimming off the top layer of dirt to a nice, shiny (moist) patch of ground. I had pictured in my mind how I wanted the path to look. Instead of connecting the driveway and patio with a straight line, I was going to do this whole staggered-look thing and wind the pathway around a little flower bed. So I was doing this three-stone staggering thing, and after I had placed about 15 stones, I realized that it looked like Picaso on acid. The afternoon was wearing on, so I thought it best just to give up any kind of creative design and just go for the straight line. Besides, I didn't have near enough pavers to go with the other plan. The work went pretty quickly, and I lacked one paver and two half-pavers having enough to finish the job. I couldn't stand the thoughts of waiting until Tuesday (because of work schedule) to get the remaining pavers, so another quick trip to Wal Mart for a few groceries and paving stones solved that problem. No way I could have slept that night knowing that the stones were missing.
The remaining naked ground was to be covered with pine nuggets. I had purchased four bags of the mini-nugget style... which covered approximately 1/3 of the area. I wasn't very pleased with the look... it didn't look much better than the leaves and sticks that had been on the ground before the excavation process. It was unanimous with Whitney, we decided I needed the regular size nuggets. Sunday began my work week, and the project had to lie dormant for a few days. Another trip to Wal Mart for more pine nuggets (no sour cream this time). Still not enough to cover. Well, it covered the naked ground, but then I needed to cover up the mini-nuggets. Friday morning, while Leyland was in school, Whitney, Corey, and I went to Lowes to pick up some plastic piping and flexible elbow thingy so that I could re-route the rainwater from the downspout. I don't want to have to step over the ugly black drainage pipe on my pretty new walkway, but neither do I want the rainwater flooding my bed of pine nuggets. I bought flexible tubing, and I'm going to turn that tube 180 degrees, run it alongside my house and let it drain onto the concrete under my little porch, where it will flow on down to the front of my house. Isn'at that a brilliant idea? I was so excited to find that flexible tubing!!
We also went to Wal Mart where I returned the original edging and sprung for a more expensive kind that seemed like would be easier to manage and would hold up better. For some reason I didn't get the pine nuggets. And for the life of me, I can't remember why. So, yesterday morning found me en route to Wal Mart ... AGAIN ... for more nuggets. And I also found another type of edging that I liked better than the one I had previously exchanged for. So I bought that too. And I needed a rubber mallet to install it, so I now have a brand new tool for my tool box!! It was touch and go with the weather, but between sprinkles, I managed to finish cleaning off the patio, put down all the edging, and lay out the remaining pine nuggets. The edging was really cool. It's little pieces that connect together, so you're not rasslin' with one long piece. Add a small shepherd's hook, a $2.00 bird feeder (until I can get a nicer one) and my little project is pretty much complete. There are a lot of things yet to be done, but at least the landing strip to my back door is now "paved". Hopefully this will cut down on some of the debris tracked in from outdoors. Once I get a few plants and flowers going out there, I think it will be nice.
But about the downspout project... well that didn't go so well. I think one more trip to Lowe's will fix me up for that, though. I bought the wrong thing to connect the pipe to the downspout. I thought Frank might have one at his little hardware store here in town, but no such luck. If I can't find the right piece, I'll just get David to come fix it for me like he fixed his. (You don't want to know....)