How I Surprised My boyfriend...with Rocks.

Remember that house we moved into in April? Since we’ve moved into it there are a few things we just couldn’t stand. One of those things was our side yard. The part of our yard that connects our front yard to our back yard.

It came with this…‘adorable’ stone walkway. I think the only thing that was adorable about it was the gate you walked through to get to it.

See, it’s pretty adorable.

The rocks of the path were just dropped down on some black weed fabric stuff, with nothing to hold them back from the rest of the yard. There was nothing in between them to keep them in place, so there were these huge gaps between them. Grass & weeds started to grow in between them so they started to get uneven and were really tricky to walk on.

Weeds with a side of rocks?

Keith was heading to the mountains for a few days and I knew that he hated this path as much as I did. We are having a party this weekend and I didn’t want this mess to be the first thing our guests see.

I decided to rip it all up and re-do it.

I liked the large rock slabs for the path - I think they are very ‘Colorado’, so I definitely wanted to keep those. I looked online for some inspiration on how to do what is called a Flagstone Walkway. I found a few tutorials and figured I could do it in 2 days.

I went to Home Depot, purchased 7 bags of sand, 4 bags of river pebbles, 50x3 feet of weed fabric, 60 feet of shitty black edging, and a coffee.

Since we are renting this place, I wanted to do this on the cheap. Everything came out to about $70 including the coffee, which is not to shabby.

Step 1: Rip ALL the things out.

I had my work cut out for me!

I needed to remove all the rocks, weeds, and old weed fabric from the area I was working in. The rocks were a non-issue, and surprisingly light. I feel like they are rocks made of air. There were some weeds in there though, that had some 1” round roots, which is insanity. It took me about an hour and a half to remove all the old stuff.

I only got about 1/2 done with this the first day. I went to Boulder that evening and came home to find that we got destroyed by an insane hail storm. In terms of ripping up the weeds though, it really helped because it killed all the weeds and made the ground nice and moist. The moist ground makes it SO much easier to pull weeds!

Step 2: Mark Path location

I wanted to make the path a little wider at our patio so that it looked a little more integrated. Before it was just a 3-foot wide path that joined that patio awkwardly. I found some sticks that worked well to mark the path. I walked back and forth on it a few times to make sure it felt right.

After I was satisfied, I took a straight shovel and dug into the dirt to mark where I was going to put the edging.

What you don’t know about our side yard is that there is a shit load of pipes under the dirt. Not deep either, a mere 2 inches under dirt… so I couldn’t dig very deep at all and had to be super careful.

Step 3: Install edging

Since I couldn’t dig very deep with a large shovel, I had to do it by hand with a trowel. It took me a while, but it was better than accidentally hitting a pipe!

The edging sits a little higher out of the ground than I would have liked, but we have plans for the other side of the yard, but that’s for next year.

Step 4: Level the ground out

Thanks to that hail/rain storm the ground was really moist so I was able to turn the dirt and rake it out to be a bit more level. Again having to be stupid careful because of those dang pipes. Seriously, who buries pipes only 2 inches deep?!

Step 5: Lay the weed block

I bought some new weed block to put down. This stuff apparently prevents weeds from getting through and growing into your stuff. I don’t buy it one bit. BUT since I like to do things right, I put it down anyways. I was lazy and only put down one layer. The people before me had 3-4 layers and it clearly did nothing.

Step 6: Sand!

Something I did not know, you’re supposed to put sand down between the weed block and whatever you’re laying down onto of it. Not sure why, but I’ll roll with it. I had JUST started to lay the sand down when BOOM, hail storm.

Yes, that’s two hail storms in two days. I feared all my sand would wash away, but got lucky!

I was running out of time and knew Keith was going to be home the next morning. After the hail storm, I went back out and finished the sand, despite the fact that I was basically making mud.

Step 7: Put the path stones back.

I had taken all these reference images on where the stones were before so that I had an idea of where to put them back. I looked at them and realized because of the weeds, there was no way to distinguish any sort of shape.

I’m an artist - so I decided to just make a new pattern!

Turns out laying rocks down in a way that leaves enough room between them for pebbles and is easy to walk on is harder than it looks. Some of the rock slabs are quite thick, compared to the rest of them. I wanted to put them all in one spot - but it just didn’t make sense for them to fit there.

Step 8: Pebbles!

I figured pebbles would be the best thing to put in between the rocks to hold them in place. They would move with the rocks when you walked on them, and would look good with the rock slabs.

This was the most fun part! It was like putting the finishing touches on a big project. I would just dump the rocks down and fill in the cracks with them, it was a really satisfying feeling.

Right before the sunset I finished up with the last of the pebbles. I knew I was going to need at least one more bag to fill in some of the bits I missed, but I was just too tired to deal with it.

Step 9: Bask in the glory!

I was so excited to show Keith I didn’t even let him put his stuff inside. He was really surprised and excited that I got it done before the party. It was even EXACTLY what he was thinking about doing himself.

Watch it in action

I also made a timelapse video of the entire process from start to finish. Keith and I just love timelapses so I thought this would be an awesome addition to a new path.

I set the camera up outside on the air conditioner, with a power cable going through the window. It looked a little wonky, but worked great!

You can watch it here:

comments powered by Disqus