My original timeline for the challenge had us done with tiling by now, but some of our supplies took longer to arrive than we had anticipated and we had to push it back. This unexpected lag in our schedule turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we felt like we had to do something, and the walkway leading up to the patio really needed a lot of love.
We’ve already done a lot of work to this little section of the yard over the years. When we first moved in, we had this gnarly mud patch. Bless our souls for adding that garden bed despite not being able to walk in the yard without sinking through the mud. It. didn’t take long before we decided that we did something about it and added a gravel path with some natural drainage.
Right after this project was probably the best it ever looked. Our plants quickly died and the mud from the rest of the yard slowly covered the white marble chip gravel. It looked dirty and worn pretty quickly, and I think that’s fine and normal for a yard, but it really pointed to the bigger mud problem we had on our hands. The yard just wasn’t draining.
After we destroyed the side yard during the last One Room Challenge, we took out the gravel and added mulch. The mulch was great. Not the most attractive solution, but drained much better and there was so much less dirt being tracked in to the house. Around the same time that we added the mulch, we also added a very ambitious amount of garden beds. This is when I realized that gardening isn’t really my thing. It was way too much for me to take care of, and well…if you take a close look at the photo above you’ll see that the garden beds are actually just full of garbage. Not a good look.
And now we’ve evolved the space once again. After we poured our slab we wanted to make sure that we had adequate drainage, so hardscaping the front quarter of the side yard and along the fence line around the extended patio was the right move for us.
We had already excavated quite a bit and then we sloped the sub-grade towards the middle. We compacted the sub-grade and then moved the existing marble gravel from in between our driveway slabs to fill in some of the space. After another round of compacting we laid down landscape fabric and pinned it in place.
We laid 24-inch white concrete pavers for a more defined walkway. They look more light pink than white, but we also have very bright white concrete countertops to compare them to). We pulled a string to set the slope from the patio to the fence door and then we leveled the pavers with some existing gravel to keep it level.
We ordered two yards of 5/8-inch black star gravel for delivery and filled in the space from back to front and leveled the gravel in line with the top of the pavers. This made it so that the patio end had ~2-inches of gravel depth and the fence door end had ~4-inches of gravel depth. Per usual, we ordered slightly too much material and were able to fill in our front garden bed and give our neighbor 1/2 a yard of gravel for his back yard.
Water should drain down through the rock and follow the slope we set in the sub-grade out to the street — especially since our soil is basically non-porous.
A benefit of having a slab between the front and back of the side yard is that little to no slit/soil should runoff into the gravel, which was a problem with our first attempt at hardscaping. This also has to do with all of the excavating and sloping work we did to make sure the back of the side yard slopes to the back of the property and the front half slopes to the street. Before doing this hardscaping we would usually have standing water over our mulch in the front half of the yard — indicating poor drainage. Having 2+ inch of gravel depth and a proper slope should fix this issue for us, as will a few other projects we have up our sleeves (rain barrel + gutters)!
Make sure to check back next week and also follow along with everyone else participating in the challenge!
This post was written for the Collected Eclectic blog.
Collected Eclectic was a passion project focused on recording the process as Grace and Michael van Meurer transformed their builder grade home in to something special.
124 blog posts were published between 2018 and 2021. Explore the complete Collected Eclectic archive here.
Learn more about the project here.