May 16, 2011

Before and After: Rock on the Cottage Garden Path

This is the year for upgrading the paths and driveway around our garden and home. We recently integrated our driveway, guest parking area and garden into one continuous gravel garden. We like the clean simplicity of the gravel garden as well as the easy maintenance.

The cottage garden path by our front door looked a bit sad when compared to the fresh gravel garden. We decided to dress up the cottage garden and solve a few problems in this area as well.

BEFORE: The beige, Chapel Hill grit needed dressing up.
Metal edging was added in preparation for the new rock.
The path material used for rose section of the cottage garden has been "Chapel Hill grit" from a local quarry. We've been using this beige gravel since 2005. It requires a refresh every year or two and is a good surface for walking. The downside of Chapel Hill grit has to do with weeds. It is the perfect medium for germinating weed seeds and we are tired of digging out spurge!

We decided to copy the medium-sized round river rock that we used to dress up the French Drain (created in 2010) that edges the large deer resistant garden. We have found it easy to walk on the medium-sized rock and it doesn't shift around like smaller pea gravel.

A solid base is always needed underneath decorative gravel. The Chapel Hill grit is a suitable base for the new rock, so we did not have to use screenings (fine gravel, coarser than sand) to level and smooth the path.

Edging was needed as the garden bed is now higher than the original path created during our home construction in 2005. After a few years of building up the soil, it was spilling out and it was difficult to retain moisture. This spot gets direct sun (when it shines) all day long in all four seasons, so keeping the soil and moisture in the bed should help during dry seasons.

Metal edging, at a cost of about $1.00 per foot, was easy to hammer into the soft edges of the garden bed and gravel. I used a pointed hoe to dig out a shallow trench, then my husband hammered the edging into the ground. A rubber mallet works well to drive the metal spikes into the ground. The metal edging is somewhat flexible, so it is easy to bend to follow the shape of the garden bed. I backfilled the garden bed edging with new, organic soil.

After the edging was installed, it was just a matter of hauling the rock in a wheelbarrow from our truck. My husband shoveled the rock into small piles along the path. I used a heavy metal rake—appropriate to rock on—to level out the gravel. After a few rainstorms, the dust will be washed away and the new round river rock will be clean.

There is more to the cottage garden path than shown in the photos. All in, the area required one yard of the rock.This project was started and completed in one afternoon, with two of us working. My husband hauled the rock in our large pickup truck (a Toyota® Tundra). This would be too heavy for one load in a smaller truck. More than one square yard would have required either a dump truck delivery or multiple trips with our truck.

We're happy with the appearance and the stability of the new surface. As the plants are ready for a summer growth spurt, it won't take long for the edge to be softened by billowing foliage and flowers.

AFTER: The medium-sized rounded river rock
packed down into a nice, stable surface.
The plants will soon grow over the new edging on the left.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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