When we bought our current house it lacked a solid path to lead from the house to the back parking area. As far as priorities go it was pretty low on the list, until last winter. Alberta winters tend to be extreme in temperature only. Winter 2011 brought a different sort of extreme, more snow than we had seen in a long time. Come spring, the melting turned the ‘path area’ into a muddy mess. What to do, what to do? Well, I decided to plan a diy granite path.
With the vast array of options available it might have been tricky to decide if I hadn’t eyeballed stacks of half broken granite counter tops leaning against the back fence. The plan came together when I saw a patchwork quilt style patio made with granite remnants. You can see the granite patio here at Junk Market Style. All you need is a little inspiration sometimes!
While there are many ways to create a diy granite path, I wanted the path to look natural and blend with the rest of the yard. We have two small boys and I wanted the yard to remain safe for riding bikes, bug hunting, pulling the little red wagon and all other forms of mischief. The plan then, was to grow grass between each slice of granite to soften the edges of the stone. To design your own granite path, check with your local granite counter top company to see if they are willing to sell remnants and broken tops. If you are lucky they might even give them to you if you come and pick it up.
The amount of stone required will vary depending on the length of the path, the width of the path and the pattern. A general rule of thumb for the width is to allow two people to walk it, shoulder to shoulder. The pattern we chose is random. The pieces were broken and laid together within the outline created when the path was dug out.
Take time to look at the stone you have, to generate ideas. Granite is polished on one side and is therefore extremely slippery when wet. The polished side will need to be placed down, the rough side will face up. One idea is to choose a couple of particularly attractive markings and turn those ones face up. It will still be slippery, but it will add a decorative touch. When it rains you will see the beauty of the granite shine through. For those of you who live in rainy climates, this path will look amazing! I admit I have spent time gazing at the path on rainy days, but I am also smitten with the darkening effects of rain on things like bark and stone buildings too!
When it comes to pattern, it will largely depend on personal preference. Due to the broken nature of the stones the path is meant to look organic. Work with it! We laid our path in a random pattern with an assortment of colours and types of granite and quartz. One idea is to use a combination of large and small chunks of stone. Lay the large pieces diagonal to each other, along the length of the path (almost like a long checker board) and fill the other spaces with randomly placed pieces of smaller stones. Or, lay the large stones randomly and encircle them with smaller pieces. As you break the granite, study the shape of the stone and it’s markings to create a path that works for your space.
Here is what you will need to get the job done and some basic steps to help you create your own individual granite path.
1.Plot the path you wish to design and mark it with spray paint. Once you have made any adjustments required, use wooden stakes and twine to define each side of the path. This is a good time to determine whether an incline moving away from the house is required to lead rainwater away from your door. Generally, a gradual incline of a few inches will do the trick.
2.Dig to a depth of 6 inches and remove sod or topsoil from the yard.
3.Pour sand in a smooth even layer across the designated area for the path. Use a trowel and a level to create an even surface for the stones.
4.Break granite remnants using a hammer and chisel to create a pattern. Make sure to wear goggles during this step!
5.Lay stones on top of the levelled sand and carefully tamp them in place with a rubber mallet.
6.Place the stones tightly together for one look or leave an inch or more surrounding the stones for another look.
7.Continue to lay stones the length of the path.
- Mix grass seed into top soil and sweep the soil and seed mixture into the spaces between each stone. Pack the soil firmly, like you would brown sugar, when baking.
- Walk over the stones to secure them in place. Add more topsoil as needed.
Water the path according to the directions on the grass seed. Or, you can water it a few times, leave for vacation and hope it rains the whole time you are gone. That’s what happened to our path. When we returned from vacay, the path had grown in with thick luscious grass 6 to 8 inches tall.
This idea can also be repeated elsewhere to create a patio area, to surround flower beds or to form a smaller meandering path to lead from one area of your yard or garden to another.