This month, we are all about the home, both exterior and interior. Summer is over and we are getting our houses back into shape after a housekeeping holiday. The outside has been used a lot at your house this summer. Take a minute to assess the situation. Where are people walking in your yard?

Paths have a way of making themselves known. The first, gentle tread of feet evolves quickly into a trough of mud through a place that people desire to walk.

Image credit:

Image credit:

You have some options for turning your mud pit into something functional, marvelous even. Of course, you can brick the path or lay stones on it, but both of these solutions, quite frankly, cost a lot of money. Once you brick the path, why not just brick in the whole patio. Once that’s done, might as well do the driveway. See how the creep continues?

This would be the never-ending bricking project for me. Image credit:

But, if you just need a path, and you don’t want to spend a fortune on brick or stone, there is a great way to build one yourself with cobblestones, pea gravel and wood slats that is easy and inexpensive. Barbie Tafel, who brought us the easy but beautiful garden post last week, showed me her homemade path a couple of weeks ago. As with anything that involves a home project, at first it seemed overwhelming, but she broke it down into a few manageable steps to show me that this is really something I can do myself.

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She did this HERSELF.

The area on the side of her house opposite her driveway was getting constant traffic from her children cutting through the front yard and down the side of the house, down a hill to their back yard. Barbie needed to make a path to salvage the yard, but did not want to invest a lot of time or money.

She opted for an old fashioned walking path, similar to ones seen at Farmington and Locust Grove. It involved edging the path in brick, creek stones or cobblestones and then filling that perimeter in with pea gravel. Because her yard is on a sharp incline, she needed to create natural steps with wood slats, as well. (If you do not have a hill to manage, the steps are not needed.)

Following the natural progression of the hill, Barbie laid wood slats at stopping points along the way, acting as steps. She used wood from old railway tresses that she found, but you can just as easily use 4 x 4 treated landscape timber, which can be found at any large hardware or outdoor store.


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She then lined the path with cobblestones and bricks, a mish mash of items. If you do not have a bunch of these perimeter rocks on hand, you can buy these as well, and they usually run about $4 apiece. Barbie recommends to start treasure hunting in fields and around your neighborhood to find them rather than pay all the money.

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She built a fence with a door to act as the beginning of her path from the front yard down to the back yard.

She made sure that her dirt was firm and packed. Her dirt looked like the dirt below.

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Dirt is firm and packed.

She then filled the packed dirt perimeter with pea gravel, or what she calls “river grit.” She recommends taking a garbage can down to Nugent Sand and filling it with pea gravel. Just rake it out into a even spread, and remember that a little goes a long way.


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Her path is in the shade, so she made sure that the greenery near the path needed little sun and thrived on neglect.

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This is dark green, long leaf Laurel. It is a great shade plant.


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Similar to Laurel, this is Acuba, a yellow variegated plant.

After the planting and the path were complete, she added some personal touches.


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Little Piggy loves his path.

And that’s it. A project for one, with little time or money invested. I’m certainly game to try this. How about you?