Townhouse Muddy Mess to Secret Garden

Rachelle D
by Rachelle D
4 Materials
5 Days

July 2016: 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!

Update June 30, 2020:

I just started an instagram channel, see the link at the bottom of the page, so you can see how it is coming along over the years. The gardens have grown in nicely and the landscaping is holding up well. We had to have some foundation work done on our house so part of it was torn up and I still need to finish fixing that up. We also replaced our deck so that is different as well. We do have plans this fall to change the round stepping stones to a paver path and I will post an update when we get that done too. :-)

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. icon

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)
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 8 questions
  • Grandmasue10 Grandmasue10 on Mar 06, 2020

    Very nice, and I'm glad the neighbors pitched in; but why pay an HOA fee when you are buying materials and doing labor to improve the outside of your townhouse?

  • Lap49853141 Lap49853141 on May 19, 2022

    I have a muddy path slope that is rocky and has large tree roots. It is impossible to level. Can I still create a beautiful path using the drainage rocks a weed fabric?

  • Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz on Jan 13, 2023

    Love how this looks, but I live up north we’re we get snow (28+ inches on the ground now). Can this be done where we have to blow and shovel snow? I’d be worried about the rocks being shot out of the blower.

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2 of 57 comments
  • C C on Jan 19, 2022

    Love what you did. Very similar to how I created my front walk

  • Ka850936827 Ka850936827 on Jan 18, 2024

    Just love how you made it functional and beautiful. FYI...if you mix vinegar, epsom salts and dawn blue dish detergent and spray the little weeds that come up in the rocks...will kill them. Non-toxic to birds and cats etc. Easy and you don't have to bother with bending and pulling weeds. Hope that's helpful.