As the summer winds down and I get ready to go back to work, the never ending gate project continues. I never thought it would take this long, but essentially the Woodland Gate, Dragon's Spine bed, and the walkway between the Woodland Gate and garden shed has taken me almost all August, and inadvertently fed into several other smaller projects as a result of moving so many plants around.
Wanting to create an authentic looking gate, I decided to add a stone based threshold. I considered several options. In the end, my decision was based on costs, time, and the materials that I was able to obtain. I chose faux textured stepping stones. At $9 each they were affordable, not too heavy, and even though cement, they looked like real stones. The conveniently flat bottoms also made it easier to install. With 42 x 34" area to work with, I purchased six stones and after trying out several patterns (had to fit within the cement footings), went with the configuration below:
It took a full day to remove all the previous pea stone that had been present. For some reason, it was full of dirt and debris. So I shoveled it all up into buckets and literally washed it all clean - a long process using an old salad strainer. My neighbors now think I am an OCD person who washes rocks in his yard (it appears I am).
Then I was able to prep the surface, smooth it out, re-work the plastic edging, and lay down new heavy duty weed fabric.
Within the stepping stone area, I dug down about six inches and laid a thick layer of crushed gravel and sand. Once the stones were carefully placed onto the sand, I then filled the edges and gaps in with a polymeric sand. Once watered, it solidified and helped hold the stones in place. Once I removed the temporary frames I used on the front and back, it was nice and solid.
I then filled in the entire area with the newly washed pea stone, even between the gaps. I also added a piece of left-over edging to the back of the stepping stone threshold to help keep the pea stones in place. Essentially, that edge is the property line, so I do not intend to extend the pea stone past that point.
I did, however, add some small pieces of curved edging and larger stones just in front of each main post. I then planted a Hosta in front of each. Yes, its off property, but I am trying to at least show the neighbor (if he ever comes out this way - he never has) that I attempted to make it look nice. All of this material for these two small features were left over, so there was no costs in doing any of this extra work.
Overall, I think it came out pretty good. It took much longer than I thought, but it was worth the effort.
I'm still waiting on the two last copper post caps, and I have to dig up and relocate all those Tiger Lilies and flatten out that mound just within the woodlot on the other side of the gate, but I'm getting closer to finishing the overall gate project. Oh yea, I have to put down some mulch in some of the areas that were dug up as well. Then I'm done for the season. Just in time to start picking up falling leaves!