There were several things I wanted to consider when choosing the paving material for the front walk. It needed to complement the style of the house, and our family’s living style. Snow removal in winter and general maintenance had to be considered. And price and ease of installation would also be factors. Slate was already installed as the floor of the front porch, from which the front walk would begin.This seemed like the most logical choice, since it would tie in with the slate that was already there. But, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem like what I wanted for a front walk. The slate that is already there doesn’t really seem to fit the style of the house. Or perhaps the rigid formality of it doesn’t mesh with the informality of my family. I also suspected, given our poorly draining soil, that it would be difficult to do right. Anything that was going to be mortared into place would need perfect drainage or crack from winter heaving.
There was also a fieldstone wall retaining the parking pad and creating Fern Alley.(Consult this map to get your bearings.) This stone is scattered throughout the beds of two creeks, and we dig it up regularly in the garden. It’s certainly plentiful. But a certain family member with a two-year degree in building construction told me that the stones would all need to be at least two inches thick, and he seemed to think there weren’t enough stones of that thickness on our property–they had all been used in that wall pictured above. So I gave up on the idea of a fieldstone walkway, telling myself that, after all, it would be hard to keep the cracks between the stones weeded.
I floundered around for a while, just hoping something would come to me. I finally came across a photograph of a path made with concrete pavers of two different widths, creating pockets where plants could grow. The effect would be something like this:I thought I was all set with this plan and was getting ready to calculate how many pavers of each size I would need and how much concrete to make all those pavers.
Then last weekend one of my adult children asked why in particular I wanted to go with pavers? Why not use the stone that is plentiful around here? So I told him about the two inch requirement and perceived lack of suitable stones. Scarcely had I finished speaking when another grown son scoffed and said there were plenty of good sized rocks if one had the muscle to get them out of the creek. (And these were the people I was counting on for help, so I guess he figured they had the muscle.) And then the first son said, and even if there weren’t enough, we could buy the rest that we needed.
Then I brought up my last concern, that I might have difficulty keeping the irregular cracks between the stones weeded. (I know Mr. Plant Facilities is concerned about things looking messy.) Well, actually I was even hoping some plants might seed in there. I was kind of hoping it might look like the concrete steps at Faire Garden:I could tell by the look on the faces of my menfolk that this looked messy to them. I could see we had a differing sense of what looked pretty. I told them if the gaps between the stones were the width of my CobraHead weeder, I could keep the weeds out from between the rocks. But I did intend to have plants growing on each side of the walk.
As I mentioned in the first post about the front walk, I want the walk to be the same width as the porch uprights, which are roughly six feet apart. If memory serves, it is forty feet from the edge of the porch to the edge of the road. Two hundred forty square feet of stone. That’s a lot of stone.
This post is part of a continuing series chronicling how I am designing new gardens at my new (to me) house. Previous posts include my one year anniversary, an overview and map of the environs, the initial front walk post, one discussing the front walk garden design, and a post that addressed a few questions about the front walk.