Monday, June 10, 2013

Creating Pathways

A new little pathway (with Jaq the three legged chihauhau back by the worm farm)
I  continue to be preoccupied in the garden, making new raised beds for planting, and putting in access paths. Both tasks are hard physical labour that leaves me exhausted if I go at it for more than a couple of hours at a time. But the results are very pleasing, so I'm trying to learn to pace myself better when carrying concrete slabs or digging.

I'm also trying to avoid unnecessary expenses in the garden so both my raised beds and paths are made with things I've found for free or very cheap: odd paving stones, old bricks, broken concrete, a material that usually ends up in landfill but when reused  is sometimes called 'urbanite'.  There was a lot of broken concrete lying around the property when I arrived but I've used it all up and now have to go out and collect it from other people's places- more heavy lifting.

My two most recent path projects are short and sweet.  Inside our front gate is a dark damp little wedge which I'm trying to make lighter and more attractive.  This is what it looked like a year ago, just before I moved in:
That nasty spiky plant positioned to poke everyone in the eye as they entered was the first to go.  
Weeded, with a few pavers and bricks arranged at the bottom of the steps
Cleared for action, with a bunch of tiny baby succulents newly planted and almost invisible on the right. 
I cleared away all the weeds, moved the pebbles around a bit, and planted up succulents against the house. Access to the front door is up the steps but to get around to the back garden and the cottage where my flatmate lives involved crunching over more pebbles- particularly troublesome for pushing a bicycle or wheelbarrow, but it stayed like that for nearly a year. I kept waiting for someone who might help me make a proper path.
looking down on the new path from the deck
Then last month I finally just went ahead and made a new little side path, using only materials I already had and laying them onto bare earth. I've researched enough about making paths to know I haven't done it properly, but it looks all right and so far it hasn't tripped anybody up.  I still need to rearrange the pebbles some more, and once the planting takes off come Spring it should be a much more welcoming entrance area.  Even at this stage of work in progress I still get a little thrill every time I come home and open the gate.
An improved entrance- look how well my succulent garden is coming along.
The other recent path project was to fill in a soggy gap between the wooden boardwalk and the steps to Shirley's cottage behind the house.  A few overgrown bits of broken concrete dotted a low lying lawn which collected rainwater, making winter access very muddy.  Having gained some path making confidence with the entrance above, Autumn's rains prompted me to finally have a crack at the cottage pathway.

The old path, last Spring
I decided to try and make the path flush between the top of the boardwalk and the bottom-most step, which meant raising the path quite high up from the lawn. I bought a $17 of pit sand for the purpose- the only cash spent on both paths.
A Summer view showing the boardwalk which comes to an abrupt end halfway to the cottage.
 I dug out the grass first and then put in little trenches on each side of the path to try and help with drainage.  Shirley and I put in wooden boards on each side and then filled the trenches and centre with sand, trying to make it as compressed and level as we could without specialised tools.

More-or-less finished path, raised up from the lawn to be level with the boardwalk and bottom step.
We made the path on a Saturday morning, trying to beat rain forecast for late morning so I had started very early preparing the foundations. Just as I'd laid the first few pavers, friends arrived with a truck load of free firewood which I had to help unload, and by the time I'd done that I could hardly move. Luckily Shirley did a great job to finish laying the path, so it was truly a collaborative effort.

High and dry crazy paving. The feet came with the cottage.