Townhouse Muddy Mess to Secret Garden

4 Materials

We bought our townhouse 7 years ago and every year from spring through fall every time it rained we had to dodge a muddy mess to get from our deck to our driveway. We got several bids from professional landscapers ranging from $3500 up to $7500 for a deluxe flagstone design that was gorgeous but way out of our ballpark!

I started by drafting a few designs on graph paper and we met with our neighbors and picked one. I then had it approved by our HOA board. We waited for it to dry out a bit, then pulled up the old sunken stepping stones, and marked an outline for the shallow trench. Then we dug the trench about 6 inches deep by 3 foot wide to aid drainage. We used a garden tiller to break up the soil and then with shovels and wheelbarrow removed it all. Then we tamped down the soil underneath with a tamped. Next came the sand, about 3 inches deep and tamped it down. Then the landscape fabric over the top and we placed the edging brick in place. Next came a 1 inch layer of drainage rock.

We then placed the round stepping stones where we wanted them and the back-filled with drainage rock around the stones.

We didn't have enough of the round to do between the deck and garage so for a little different look used square stones and set them in a diamond shape. Then I filled in around the edges with plants and garden decorations. I absolutely love it and our neighbors rave about it. It was a lot of hard work but so worth it! Final cost was about $1200 total and we split cost with our neighbor that shares the walkway. We will enjoy this for many years!

May 2018

May 2018. Our work is holding up well.

Lessons learned. Use the best weed barrier you can find. I spend a lot of time pulling little weeds out of the rock. We probably should have put drainage tile in but water drains away within a couple hours so not too bad. We still love it.

Suggested materials:

  • Tiller  (Borrowed, but can be rented.)
  • Wheel barrow, shovels, spades, tamper, mallet  (Had them in our garage.)
  • Marking paint, 4 rolls 25 ft landscape fabric, 1 pallet sand, 2 pallets drainage rock, 40 brick pave  (Lowes)
See all materials

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Betty Shilling-Schweikert
    on Jul 17, 2016

    very nice but how would it work in states with snow

  • Stephanie
    3 days ago

    How much did it cost you?

    • Rachelle D
      2 days ago

      Materials only, we did the work ourselves. About $1000 all said and done.

  • Blackpearl
    2 days ago

    It looks beautiful and we have done a similar thing between our fence and the side of our house. My husband is reluctant to put in paving slabs because he thinks they will break unless he levels it all and lays sand. Did you have to do that? The stones are hard to walk on.

    • Rachelle D
      2 days ago

      We have a base of compacted sand and landscape fabric underneath and we placed the stones the put the drainage gravel around them. These are very thick handmade stepping stones that were made about 30 years ago when the property was built. I have seen some disintegrate that were exposed to soil and water but they are very strong. We have one right now that is crumbling that used to sit in water and in the spring I plan to make a replacement. The last picture ture I posted was a couple years after completing and it has held up much better than I expected.

Join the conversation

3 of 49 comments
  • Angele
    on Oct 20, 2019

    Landscape fabric only makes it impossible to pull the weeds. Pour the hot boil water from pasta and steamed veg on them nasty buggers or a solution of vinegar and dove sprayed. Just make sure not to spray too close to anything you want to keep. Beautiful work!

    • Rachelle D
      2 days ago

      I use a vinegar and Epsom salt solution in a pump sprayer in the spring when weeds first pop up and works great!

  • Shirley Freeman
    on Nov 10, 2019

    I love the way it turned out.

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