Sunday, January 4, 2015

Our DIY Front Path Makeover

Hey there,

Our home's front path was plain concrete, straight and worn down.  With time, its surface got eaten away by winter de-icing salt, and it became an eyesore.  There was also paint spilled on it (not by us.)

Not a welcoming entry into our home!  The front path became part of Project Curb Appeal.

Our DIY Front Path Makeover - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
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Hey!
This project was featured by Bob Vila's team on Yahoo Makers!  And also on Apartment Therapy! Click to view. Wooohoo!  *happy dance*

 

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We didn't want to resurface the concrete, nor have it jackhammered away and start over with something else.  Way too much trouble!

So, working within a budget we decided to update it, using the existing concrete as a foundation.  If you're looking for a very DIY-able way to redo your path, this may be the solution for you.  No tools required!  (Though a car or truck with lots of cargo space is recommended ;-)

Like in most home projects we do, we like to go for maximum impact at minimal cost; we do the work ourselves after learning what we need to know.  This project certainly wasn't complicated, as you'll see, but it did involve some physical work and maybe a little grunting.

It took us about 3 hours on a nice Saturday afternoon.

Here's the story of how we did it, and how much it cost:

The Inspiration:

This flagstone path was the inspiration not only because of its easy elegant look and feel, but also because it doesn't require power tools or any major technical skills, as garden designer Tom Piergrossi points out on the My Home Ideas website by This Old House.

Source: 25 Ways to Create an Outdoor Oasis, My Home Ideas, Photo by Norm Plate

We shopped around at some local garden centers and priced things out.  But we quickly learned that flagstone like you see above is very expensive.

We still loved the look of the stepping stones with small river rock in between, so we tweaked the plan a little.  We decided to go with something a bit more basic, which actually turned out quite nice and contemporary.

Here was our starting point:



Our DIY Front Path Makeover - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
Plain concrete path, with a crumbling surface and white paint splotch.

We opted to use these square pavers from our local big box store.  The plan was to lay them evenly in 3 rows, and have river rock/pea gravel in between the pavers.


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping

Here's how we did it:

STEP #1.  We laid down some stone screening (powder made from crushed stone) to make our path level and fill in the damaged areas.


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
Distributing our stone screening


We did this simply by pushing it around with a wide, flat broom until it was smoothed out.  Stone screening is a good foundation, and is also useful for keeping weeds away.

(Note:  I had assumed we would use sand to do this step, but a landscaping expert told us to avoid using sand because it attracts ants.  Good to know!) 


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
Phase 1 complete - Foundation done.
STEP #2: Speaking of weeds (which always seem to become a problem for us at some point) we wanted the odds to be ever in our favor so we rolled out some thick weed barrier cloth (geotextile).


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping

You may need to weigh it down at the ends...  Our geotextile kept blowing away in the breeze!


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
Weed barrier: complete.

STEP #3:  Laying down the stone pavers.  I dropped them into place and repositioned them until they were straight and aligned...  ish.


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
This step was straightforward, just needing some precision and patience.

STEP #4:  Fill in the gaps with pea gravel/river rock.


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping


Again here, we spread out the rocks with a wide broom to fill in the gaps.


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping

Yes, I know.  My brown bedazzled dollar-store croc knock-offs are dead sexy.  

Then we hosed it down, and voila!  All done!


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping

Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
Yes, I like it!

Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping
A quick summary of the steps!

Our new path:


Our DIY Front Path Makeover on a Budget - ZenShmen Project Curb Appeal, Flagstone, Pavers, River Rock, Landscaping, Hardscaping

A final note:  The tiny little rocks can get kicked up and dislodged (and the kids adore playing with handfuls of them).  They're easily swept back into place when needed.  It's also nice when a few are out of place, it's not a problem.  This minor aspect doesn't bother us, as the path is so much better overall than what it was before.  We love it!

For those who are curious, here is the cost breakdown:

$107.64   36x 16"x16" stone pavers @ $2.99ea
$73.97     13x Bags of river rock @ $5.69ea
$36.00     10x Bags of stone screening (powdered stone) @ $3.60ea
$0.00       Geotextile (weed barrier cloth) - we had some leftovers on-hand.
$0.00       Labour
$217.61   Total Cost

I hope this has inspired some ideas for your home!

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Val

37 comments:

  1. I love this! What a great way to do a makeover without a tremendous amount of work or money. How is the end that meets the street/sidewalk working? Does it just end with the pea gravel to the sidewalk and how are you containing that? Or not? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Sara!
      Thanks for the great feedback. To answer your question, the end of our path meets the driveway, which evened things out because the driveway was higher than the path to begin with, by about an inch and a half. We have not had the need to contain the pea gravel so much for everyday use -- instead we must persuade our toddler not to throw handfuls of pea gravel all over the place! He finds it endlessly entertaining ;-) Every once in a while I sweep them back into place but truthfully it's not a bother even when a few are out of place. Hope this helps!

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  2. Which big box store did you get these from? I checked Home Depot and I did not see them. Lowe's is a bit further but I do not see it on their site.

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    1. Hello!
      We bought these stone pavers at our local big box chain, Reno-Depot. They are quite plain and I'm sure there are many similar ones out there. I hope this helps! Thank you for reaching out :-)

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  3. Do you need a cement border to do this project?

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    1. Hi Regina,
      I wouldn't say it's required, we just happened to have one there. If your path has no edge already (or you're creating a new one) there are a number of edging options available at your local big-box store, from plastic garden-bed edging (the kind that rolls up) to long skinny stone pavers. Depending on your path's location, such as alongside a retaining or exterior wall, you may not need anything at all. Hope this helps!

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  4. Do you think this could work over existing pavers in a walkway?

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    1. Hi Jessica,
      while I'm no expert, I'd say it's certainly doable if your existing pavers can serve as a level base to use as a starting point, and there is some kind of existing border on the sides of the walkway to contain the new pavers and the river rock. If the final effect will be too high, then another approach could be to lift out the existing pavers and use the original underlay as your starting point. Then you could always repurpose the old pavers elsewhere, sell them, or list them for free pickup on craigslist or freecycle.
      So -- it would depend on what's there now but, long story short, this project is a relatively easy way to mask an existing pathway that's just not doing it for you!
      Hope this helps and best of luck! :)

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  5. Hello. My husband and I plan to follow your instructions for our (next free) weekend project. I wanted to say thank you for your detailed instructions and photos. I will let you know how it turns out!!

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    1. Hi Debbie,
      Thanks so much for your note! It made my day :)
      Good luck to you guys and please do let me know how your project turns out. Can't wait!
      Val

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    2. Hello Val, I love this idea because it's relatively inexpensive. My question is, do you think that this project could be expanded to cover a larger not so grassy and pretty uneven backyard? The largest area is about 24' x 8 to 10'. The short side is irregularly shaped as there is a pool with a round side. I don't want to have to cut any pavers as I expect that would be a problem so I guess I would just fit in or maybe use broken pieces. Any thoughts?
      Thanks a lot.

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    3. Hello Val,
      I was wondering what your opinion is on doing this in a uneven and not very grassy backyard area. There is a round swimming pool on one side of the approximately 24' x 10' area.
      Thanks for your help.

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    4. Hi Kathryn,
      Thanks for reaching out. You have a great idea! This project can definitely be done to cover a larger surface. I've seen whole patio/terraces done this way, in fact that's where I picked up the idea for our path! What I'd do in any odd-shaped wedges or crescents would simply be to fill them with the pea gravel. Agreed about not wanting to cut pavers - I feel the same way. As for the uneven surface, the stone screening (powdered stone) should do a pretty good job filling in divots and lower ground, depending on how uneven we're talking here. (If you have some seriously lower ground in some spots, maybe some chunkier gravel can do the job of filling it in first, before you smooth the surface with the powdered stone.) I hope this helps! Best of luck with the project and I hope to hear how it went!

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  6. Hey Val!

    Love the new walkway!

    Wanted to know your thoughts on doing this same project, just over sand/dirt. It's my current front bush bed, but I want to turn it into a patio/sitting area. As my son and his friends frequently kick and misplace mulch and pretty plants I put down. 🙄 Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

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  7. Hi Melissa!

    Thanks for your feedback. The magic of this type of project is that it can cover a big area, so yes, I think it's definitely doable as a patio area! Note: I'm no expert but had been told by a landscape specialist that sand wasn't a good underlay because it attracts ants - that being said, that advice applies to our area in Montreal Canada - if the ground in your neck of the woods is sandy to begin with, that's a different story! So my thoughts are, go for it! As long as you have a level, even base to work from and you take steps to combat weeds from growing up through all your hard work, I think you'll be happy with the results.

    Good luck with your project!!

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  8. I love your project. Question about how many inches in between each pavers?

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    1. Thanks Andrea! Truth be told, we just eyeballed it and worked within the existing space. It's probably about 2 inches width-wise and more like 3 or 4 lengthwise. As long as your pavers line up nicely (or follow each other nicely on a curve) you can't go wrong. Best of luck!

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  9. I love this project and i think the wife and i will attempt to do it. May be a little more detail involved for us though, due to us needeing to remove some grass to make a path. Thank you for the detailed instructions. We will let you know how it turns out.

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    1. Thanks Danny! Your note put a smile on my face on this rainy Monday! Looking forward to hearing how it goes :)

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  10. Hi Val thank you for uploading your project, i loved it! im going to try this as well, hopefully it will look just as great as yours :-) thanks again!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Mabelle! Best of luck :)

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  11. Hi Val about to try a very similar project except its a tad longer but the same width, approx 12m x 2.4m. Just wondering about the gaps in between the slabs, i was thinking with mine a 100mm gap or approx 4 inches .. sound doable? Thanks.

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    1. Hi there!
      Yes, absolutely. I'd say as long as your spacing is perfectly even between the pavers, you can't go wrong.
      Best of luck with your project!

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  12. what was the square footage of your project......it looks awesome, Thanks

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    1. Hi Jim,

      This path was roughly 100 square feet. Hope this helps! Thanks for coming by :)

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  13. Hi Val - You mention ice. Can you run a snow blower over this area? I'm concerned about the pea gravel getting caught up in the snow blower. Thank you!

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    1. Hello,

      We do not own a snowblower so I can't say... We laid down a cocoa mat runner the length of the path for the winter, and shovelled the snow, so the pea gravel did not pose a problem.

      All my best!

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  14. I came across a photo of your project on Pinterest and once I visited your site where you provided such detailed instructions, I am thrilled. Thank you so much for even including the cost for your size walkway. I plan to share this with my sweet husband in hopes he'll agree that we need to do this. Thanks again ~

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    1. Pleasure's all mine Nanny! Best of luck with your project :)

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  15. Hi! I'm down in the southern portion of the US and I was hoping you had a name of the stone screen or another name for it. They don't have it at any of the big box stores here.

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    1. Hello!
      Hmmm... I suggest asking for finely crushed or powdered stone, that could work!
      Good luck with your project!

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  16. We were thinking of doing this in our backyard to connect the two small cement patio us we have. There is grass in between – do you think it would be best to lay a tarp/weed barrier and the sand stuff and pavers on top?? Or first remove as much of the grass as we can?

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    1. Hi J!
      I'm no landscaping expert but, if there is grass there currently and you really want to have the look of the pavers with the pea gravel/river rock, my thought is you would have an easier time and a nicer result if you remove the grass.
      That said, it also depends on the size of the area you want to cover and how much work is involved... There is an alternate option. If you are happy with the look of grass in between the pavers, and you have a very nice and even/level lawn, you could potentially lay the pavers on top of the grass and maintain the growth in between with a weed-whacker.
      It comes down to the look you prefer of course, but I thought I'd mention it because the grass-between-pavers look is something we are thinking of doing in our backyard too.
      Good luck with your project!

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  17. Great! Just what I was looking for...I am doing this this weekend.

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    1. That's awesome! Best of luck!
      A beautiful reward for a few hours of work :)

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  18. Hi, I am doing a similar project now but noticed the large paver stones shift around easily. Pea gravel just won't hold anything in place and also fall out on top of the pavers.

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    1. Hi Lukasz,
      Curious as to what you have underneath your pavers? Our pavers didn't really budge - we used stone screening (powdered stone) as an underlay and were also lucky to have two concrete barriers on either side to keep the whole path in place.
      As for the pea gravel, I agree some can fall out on top, but we didn't really mind the look of it. ;-)
      p.s. as i noted above - for this reason we did cover the path with a long cocoa mat in winter to make shovelling snow easier - Canadian winters are no joke!
      Best,
      Val

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