Tuesday, June 4, 2013

DIY Stepping Stone Pathway

Sorry people! I've been a bit scarce around here. You see, when summer rolls around James and I get super busy with the kids…and after all….it's summer time.

Plus, we're always working on  a new project. We just {nearly} finished our walkway in our backyard.



This is what we had. Do you see all of those tiny red(ish) pebbles?
They are lovely, I really like them. The problem is that the kids love them too.


They love to throw them in the grass, and everywhere. They dig in them. James had it. Just one day he shoveled them all up and we were left with a eyesore. Until I found this on Amazon.

Better yet, hit the garage sales or ask your neighbors. I didn't realize how many people I knew already owned this!



We just followed the directions on the mold.
But here's some tips to help you out better. You learn as you go, so here's what we learned. 

: Concrete is different. If you want a really smooth stone, use sand topping mix concrete. It's not nearly as rocky as the cheap stuff. But it's over $5 a bag (which is darn pricey for concrete), so we opted for the regular concrete mix that was recommended on the mold.
You could lay the rocky stuff, and then use the sand topping mix to give it a smoother finish, but that's just asking for trouble.

: Get the right tools. We didn't want to mix it in our (borrowed) wheel barrow. So we purchased this tub for about $6. And this trowel was good for working in small little corners and creases. 
: Remove the first inch of dirt from the ground to make it harder. Tamper the ground really well to even it out. You need a really flat surface to work here!

: Wear gloves that fit well. I didn't have any gloves that fit, so I skipped it all together. I thought it was easier to deal with the concrete that way. The concrete package warns of burns, they weren't kidding. OUCH!

: Work as a team. James and I did this together. He did all of the mixing, and pouring. I worked with the trowel, and the smoothing. I can't imagine doing this alone, or having James do it all by himself. Impossible. It's already back breaking work, but it goes so much smoother (pun intended) when you work as a team. 

: Have a plan of attack. Before you begin to mix and lay the concrete, know where you want each mold. You can overlap the stones (by cutting off the ends of some of them with the mold itself). But when you come to the end of your path, it gets tricky to make it look perfect. So take your time and plan it out. 



: Use a mister to add water when smoothing the top of the concrete. I found the more water the better, but be careful not to add too much water. It won't hold it's shape. This is by far the most tedious part of the process (especially if you are using "rocky" concrete). But take your time, keep the hose (or watering can) handy. 

: Don't use a concrete stain. If you are working on a large area, and you are mixing it bag by bag, it would be impossible to get the same color mixture for each different tub. Well, that's my opinion at least. 

: Use an attractive border to pull it all together. We used the paving sand and the river rock (we already had the big stones there to begin with). A quick note about paving sand…we didn't have it go all the way to the top of the stones. We liked the stones sticking up higher than the sand. It gave it a more "organic" look and feel. 



Phew! It was a lot of work. Our backs are sore, our hands are dry and torn to shreds. But it was worth every blister. Plus, a path like this would have cost around $500 from a landscaper and it was just under $100. I'll take a $400 savings any day!

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The DIY Dreamer

11 comments:

Rachel said...

Looks amazing!

Tim, Allyson, and kids said...

Wow! This looks so good. I'm sure it was a lot of hard work, but the finished path is beautiful.

We'd love for you to link up at our weekly Finished Friday Party.

Christine said...

CONGRATS!!
You have been featured at The DIY Dreamer! YAY! Come on over and grab your featured button, you deserve it!
http://thediydreamer.com/from-dream-to-reality/rustic-features-70/

Heidi@OneCreativeMommy.com said...

Fantastic job! I've seen these paths on Pinterest, but the pins all go to a product page. Finally, an actual tutorial! Thanks. Pinning.

Linda Bouffard said...

Awesome walk. I'd love to have a walk like that. Best wishes, Linda

Made From Pinterest said...

I want this walkway in my backyard! I'm so glad to see that it worked for you! Pinned it! Hopping on over from House of Hepworths. Debbie @ http://www.madefrompinterest.net/

Sol Hendricks said...

I'm sure the kids would still fancy the new stone pathway. Good thing is, they can't throw them elsewhere anymore. Smart solution! Although they can still draw on them. You might need to set regular days off to keep it clean. ;) Sol@Diamond Contracting

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