Another chapter in our neverending backyard projects saga wrapped up this year with the installation of a firepit area and garden paths.
We have really crummy grass because I can’t be bothered to invest time and money into maintaining something that provides so little benefit; I need more time to tend to my tomato plants and echinacea flowers! So replacing some turf with gravel seemed like a great way to reduce the workload and improve the esthetic of the yard. There’s still (always) so much more to do but I will show you how we made our paths and pit and talk about what we hope to achieve by the end of next summer!
When we first moved here this is what our yard looked like:
Its been a busy few summers with the construction of our upcycled greenhouse, garden plot, chicken coop, and pond. Our yard is slowly transforming into a beautiful and diverse space for growing food, observing nature, and playing and entertaining with friends and family.
Before we began the path project, our yard looked something like this:
At the time that photo was taken, we had already settled on a plan of action and begun the work of removing the old culvert firepit and digging the new one.
I used garden hoses to guesstimate where I wanted the paths to be and I started digging away the sod over the course of a few weekday afternoons while hubby was at work.
We found some cement stacking stones on a local classified for a really great deal an bought them before we even knew exactly what we would use them for but I’m glad we did because they turned out to be a great border for the firepit circle.
I began piling layers onto the areas that would become new lasagna beds (or ‘sheet-mulched’ beds). New Gardener Blues shares a great post about how to properly sheet-mulch a lasagna bed here.
In the meantime, hubby was hard at work with the rest. After laying down heavy-duty landscape fabric in all newly dug areas we ordered a load of 4 tonnes of 1/4″ crushed gravel, and rented a bobcat and a tamper.
Here’s the hubs levelling and tamping the gravel in the firepit circle:
1/4″ crushed gravel compacts very nicely and provides a fairly hard surface area for walking on. It’s low-maintenence and cheap. We used an old tractor rim for the new pit and buried it halfway into the gravel.
With the leftover concrete blocks we made a small patio under the apple tree and a step-down on the slope from the gate. I’ve been slowly propagating creeping thyme and trying to encourage it to grow in and around the stones to soften the space and suppress some weeds
The family took a daytrip to a local beach where we found some sandstone and other flatrocks and I used those to create a small retaining wall below the grapevine as well as some step-up access to my water collection system (another future project)
We had to cut the grapevine right back to the base so we can re-train it and get it to produce fruit for us again. By the end of next summer it’ll again look like a neater version of this:
The beginning of planting and naturalizing the space:
Things are slowly coming along and of course all I can do is dream about the beautiful and delicious and medicinal plants I’ll be able to grow next year. We have already planted some blueberry and ornamental bushes and cutting flowers and spring bulbs. Next spring I’ll make space for some vining plants like pumkins and melons. We left the option open to invest in some quality flatstone for the paths if it’s ever within our future budget. Since packed crushed gravel makes a great sublevel to stone pathways we’ve already done the hard work! If not flatstones, maybe we will add a layer of pea gravel so I can resume barefoot gardening (my favorite!) -without puncturing my footsies on the crushed gravel.
Only 7 more months until spring!