Rachelle D
Rachelle D
  • Hometalker
  • West Des Moines, IA

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!

townhouse muddy mess to secret garden, how to, landscape

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.

townhouse muddy mess to secret garden, how to, landscape

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

townhouse muddy mess to secret garden, how to, landscape

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

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

Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Julie
    on Jul 17, 2016

    Have you had rain yet to know if you got better drainage with your wonderful new landscaping? :)

    • Rachelle D
      on Jul 17, 2016

      Oh yes, several times! Before when it rained we would have mud puddles for up to a week. In the spring with the snow melt we would have to put down boards to walk on. Now, the water does still pool at the bottom end by the driveway while raining really hard, but never covers the stepping stones and within 10-15 minutes after the rain quits it is gone. We have also noticed our sump pump doesn't kick on as often so we believe this has helped water drain away from the house as well. That wasn't planned but a happy result. 😊

  • Carla Falkofske
    on Jul 17, 2016

    Would this work on a slope?

    • Sheila
      on Dec 11, 2018

      Use rock that has jagged edges so when you tamp it down, it will lock the rock in place. This helps to lock the rock in place

  • Betty Shilling-Schweikert
    on Jul 17, 2016

    very nice but how would it work in states with snow

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