A Stony Path

The stone path to the backyard that lies on the west side of our house had problems. The steps were sinking in places and were covered by soil that had washed down from the border. Also, the stepping stones were a couple of inches below the level of the bricks that start at the backyard gate. Plus, the gaps between the stones were full of grass and weeds.

Path on the west side of the house leading to the backyard. I’m hoping that the Scotch and Irish moss will form a mat covering the gap between the stones. Also that they’ll get along. I’m training roses up that arbor beyond the gate.

So this past weekend I implemented a quick fix. I lifted up the steps where needed, spread new sand, then replaced the steps so that the were adequately elevated. Moving the stones also made it easier for me to purge the path of weeds. Finally, I planted some mat forming low groundcovers in the larger spaces between the stepping stones. I planted nutmeg thyme in the sunnier part of the path, and Irish or Scotch moss in the shady parts.

I also planted some Corydalis lutea along the inside of the path.

I realize this is a lazy way of fixing the path, and that the stones will sink again in a few years. But so what? I’ll just pull them up again, lay down more sand, and put them back in place.

I’ve read that you’re supposed to use the same material for paths throughout your property. I have violated this garden design injunction, but I hope that I am guilty of only a misdemeanor. Actually, I think switching from stone to brick at the backyard gate works as a transition from one space to another. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I have to admit this wasn’t planned. We inherited the stone path, and laid the brick path ourselves without thinking about how it would connect to the stone. B ut we like it anyway.

8 Comments on “A Stony Path

  1. Lifting the stones, weeding, replacing the stones, planting ground cover – doesn’t sound lazy to me!

    • Glad to hear that. I guess due to a guilt-oriented upbringing, I tend to feel morally culpable if I don’t do tasks in the Officially Right Way. Not guilty enough to do them that way, though …

  2. I like the transition effect of stone to brick. And I’ve always loved the look of thyme and other low groundcovers in between stones or bricks in a path.

  3. Okay, you are clearly going to shame me into doing something about my weed-ridden, messy front walkway!

  4. Is there enough sun for the groundcovers? I find that Scotch and Irish “mosses” seem to do better with at least a little sun exposure…the chartreuse-y Scotch can even take full sun here in Zone 8. I like the path a lot, and I think if anyone were to question the multiple-materials choice, you just tell them it is ‘your take on a Japanese-style Nobedan path.’ So there. I like your blog! Calvin

  5. There is a couple of hours direct sun in the afternoon. We’re having hot, dry weather lately, So, I’m having to scramble to keep the mosses from frying. The thyme too, though it’s supposed to love sun. Glad you like the blog. I’ll try that line about the Nobedan path. Only thing is, what is a Nobedan path?

  6. In Japanese gardens, a Nobedan path is usually a mix of different types of paving materials, such as flagstone and cobble, or cut stone and river pebbles. Typically, they are used to guide the garden viewer from one focal point of a garden to another, passing through an area of lesser interest. Sometimes they are intentionally uneven so as to force the viewer to look at the pathway itself. That is the beauty of saying something like that: once you say it and define it, no one will ever question you. That way, if the paving winds up settling in a displeasing way, it’s intentional, and exotic. There is a nice Nobedan in the Japanese Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden that uses a mix of flagstone and cut stone, leading across a dry Zen garden. It gets both hotter and colder where you live than here, I’ll bet a couple of hours of afternoon sun are just fine with the groundcovers!

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