Path to Nowhere, Dry River Bed or Separation Between Lawn and Garden?

12 Materials
2 Days

This summer was spent on creating a division in our backyard between our lawn and our garden area. My intention for the garden area was to remove or cover the grass and create a seating area. Hubby refers to this new area as the Park.

Before I started on the Park, I revamped the bark beds in the main section of the backyard. I had just created these bark beds two years ago, but I felt they needed to be updated. For all the details on why I did this and how it came out, you can go here:

When I initially built the bark beds, I lined them with 8" x 16" rectangular bricks. Now that I was updating the look, I no longer needed the bricks, so I decided to use in the garden area.As I worked on this project, I sat the bricks elsewhere around the yard. Some went to the garden area where I would eventually create a seating patio, others went around the tree bench where I would build a platform, and the rest I sat some along the line that would divide what would become the Park and the lawn.

While browsing Pinterest, I found many interesting path styles. When I got ready to work on the path, using that inspiration, I gathered various items from around the yard to go in the path. There were different shapes and sizes of bricks and some flagstone laying around my garden area.

I also had some pottery that had once been a planter that I thought I could use in the design.

After laying all the various pieces in the ground, I could tell that I would need to purchase some so I went to my favorite local landscape business and picked up both the bricks that would edge the new path and some to go inside.

Now that I had all the pieces to create the path, I had to make a decision: remove the sod or lay the path on top of the grass. Over the last two years, I have removed my fair share of sod and it is a LOT of work. My yard is riddled with tree roots and rocks.*****Heads up to the professional landscape folks and those who 'do it the right way'....I know that to help ensure your brick work stays level and solid, it's best to dig deep, add a gravel layer...etc However, with the amount of roots and rock in my soil, doing it the right way would take more muscle than I have. Since I'm a DIY gal and prefer to do things myself as opposed to hiring it out, I do what I can. Surprisingly, considering the winters we get here, the brick borders I have installed over the years have mostly remained in place with the exception of where tree roots have grown larger under them*****So, with that said, I decided not to even remove the sod this time. Gasp! Yes, I would live to regret that particular decision as you'll read below.

Since I wasn't removing the sod, it was even more important that I lay down a weed barrier. I had been collecting newspapers so I used those. When using newspaper as a weed barrier, you'll want to use several sheets and wet them down after you've put them on the ground. In order to remember the layout of the path, I picked up a few bricks at a time, laid down newspaper, wet it good, added a layer of sand then placed the bricks back in place.

I had purchased 1/4 yard of paver sand from the local landscape place down the road to lay under the bricks & brought it from the garage to the path with my garden wagon.

Since the bricks were various thicknesses, putting in the sand at this time allowed me to level them. I also leveled the edge bricks as I went.

I also bought 1/4 yard of small rock and used my garden wagon to bring the rock to the path.

With all the bricks in place & leveled, it was easy to add the rock between them.

When I planned to build this path, I figured it would be easy to roll my garden wagon over it whenever I wanted. But since I didn't remove the sod under the path (which would have set in lower on the ground, making it easier to 'drive' over it), every time I tried to use the wagon, the edge bricks moved. Ugh! I thought about what options might be available and decided to buy a little bridge!***I'm ok with the landscape folks smiling at this point.

I found the cutest one online, it was metal and held up to 450 lbs. I read the reviews then quickly ordered it!

The bridge was delivered in a few days. I had read how easy it was to assemble and those reviews were right!

The arch is in two pieces. I just had to slide one piece into the other and attach the sides.

There are 4 cap nuts that screw onto the bolts that are already attached to each side of the bridge.

I estimate that it too me 15 minutes to assemble the bridge.

The path was just a bit wide where I placed the bridge, so I bought six 12" x 12" cement blocks to set under the legs. The blocks raised the bridge enough to allow clearance over the edge bricks, 3 on each side. Since the sides of the bridge are low & hubby has some balance issues, I also bought two metal poles from Lowes @$10 each and zip-tied them to one side of the bridge. Now when hubby walks over the bridge, he has something to hold onto if he feels the need.

With the bridge in place, I applied a glossy sealer to the small rocks between the bricks in the path. This step is optional but I like the wet-look it gives to the path.

I have found that it also sorta 'glues' the little rocks to each other, preventing them from shifting as much if someone walks on them. I step on the large bricks to walk over the path or along it but I know not everyone will do so.

The decision to place the path on to of the grass worked out very well as far as the center of the path was concerned. The large bricks, rock, and edging bricks closest to the garden area stayed in place. However, after mowing a few times, I decided that I would have to fix the bricks closest to the lawn. When mowing, even though I was careful, the back wheel on the lawnmower would tap a brick or two and knock them out of place. While my intent when creating this path was not to have to remove any more sod, I had to admit that those edging bricks were not going to 'settle' and I needed to take corrective action. ***I see you landscape folks grinning now.

I bought some of the bullet bricks like I had used to line the bark beds this year and set them on the grass close to the edge bricks. My plan was to remove the grass just below the bullet bricks and 'butt' them up to the edge bricks after adding a little sand or topsoil under the edge bricks to bring them up to level. Hubby, however, had a different idea. He thought it would look nice to leave some space between the edge bricks and the bullet bricks then fill the space with the same small rock I had used in the path. I thought about that idea. It would mean removing even more sod and then buying more sand & small rock.

To get a visual of what his idea would look like, I moved the bullet bricks farther away from the edge bricks. I liked that new look! Then, I thought, why not use bark? I needed to buy more bark anyway as we still needed to put some behind the shed.

With the new plan in mind, I began pulling up sod. This sod would go to Linda's property. It would be the 5th time I have taken sod to her and all the previous sod has rooted well and grown nicely. Since this section was small, it only too a couple of hours to remove the sod. I made sure to allow an extra 4" on the outside of the bricks for the wheels of the lawnmower to ride. I ended up with a large wheelbarrow full to take to Linda's. (It has been delivered and 'planted' already)To remove the sod, I use a garden shovel to cut along the outer edge of the area. I then use the garden shovel to cut small sections of sod which makes it easier to remove. Using a kneeling pad & wearing gloves, I peel back the smaller sections of sod with a small garden rake. I clip small roots that are attached to the sod with garden clippers.

When the sod was removed, I laid down landscape cloth (I had run out of newspaper) I ended up with exactly enough landscape cloth for this section of the project.

Then it was time to add bark. As I added bark, I leveled each brick with paver sand.

To blend the new area with the bark beds, I removed the bricks at either end of the new section.

I have to admit, hubby had a great idea! It looks really nice and keeps the edging bricks in place!

Whether I call this is a path to nowhere, a dry river bed, or a brick divider between lawn and park, it's a beautiful addition to our back yard! I had all the tools for this project as well as the rock sealer, so my out of pocket cost for this project was $361. Without the bridge, it was $131.

Here is the cost breakdown of what I bought:

*26 bullet bricks = $37

*1/2 yd bark = $17

*1/4 yd paver sand = $9

*1/4 yd small rock = $9

*Landscape cloth = $12

*Edging & accent bricks = $47

*Bridge = $230


If removing sod:

Using a garden shovel, cut through sod along your perimeter line

Section off small pieces of sod with the shovel to make removal easier

Wearing garden gloves & using a kneeling pad, use a small hand rake, remove each section of sod. If not removing sod, skip this section

Lay down landscape cloth/newspaper/brown paper bags

If using newspaper or bags, wet them

Set bricks on top of landscape cloth/newspaper/brown paper bags

Using paver sand, level bricks as needed

Fill in the area between the bricks with paver sand then small rock

Using a garden sprayer, apply the sealer to small rock (*optional)

Resources for this project:

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Frequently asked questions

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  2 questions
  • TR TR on Aug 30, 2020

    What did the sealer cost you?

  • Yo Yo on Sep 01, 2020

    Where did you ordered the bridge?


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