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For flagstone paths, arrange the stones where you think they ought to go, and then walk along them to see how they flow underfoot. If the path travels through the lawn, let them sit in place overnight. The grass underneath will yellow, telling you exactly how much sod to dig out. Make each excavation deep enough to avoid interference with mower blades. Settle the stone in its bed, tapping it in firmly with a rubber mallet, then water it in. Correct any wobbles and gaps with sand.
For gravel and mulch paths, plan on some sort of edging along the sides and at either end. If your yard is sandy, put down an underlayment, such as weed-barrier fabric, to keep the gravel or mulch from disappearing into the soil over time.
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Dig down a few inches the length and width of the path and use sod staples to pin the underlayment to the ground. Then set your edging and add the gravel or mulch. Excavate to the depth of your paver plus at least 3 inches to put the finished project at ground level. If you live in an area where the ground freezes, you must dig deeper for a thicker base to prevent frost heaving. The success of the project depends on getting the area as level as possible at this point. Repeat until you have a firm and level base with just enough vertical space left so the top of the pavers rest at grade.
Choose a pattern, and stick with it. Working across the width of the path, pound the pavers tight against the outside edges and one another using a rubber mallet. Fill cracks with fine sand after finishing each three- to four-row section. Work the sand in with a scrub brush or gloved hands.
Remember to continually check that the project is level, brick to brick and row to row.
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Lay your screeding board over the pavers and whack them securely into the base with the sledgehammer, then pour more sand into the joints. When the path is finished, spread polymeric sand over the entire project and water it in, following the directions on the package.
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Not only do paths protect plants and soils from traffic and provide access for additions and maintenance, they also define and beautify garden spaces. Photos by Kathy Fitzgerald. Old World, pretentious, charming, expensive? Perhaps you think of these gussied-up containers as high maintenance, or maybe you simply write them off as another wacky sport in the world of competitive gardening. Yet, could it be that you would really like to try them, but have no idea where to begin? Properly installed window boxes increase the gardening space in minuscule landscapes and places with less than perfect soil.
They are also a relatively inexpensive way to add visual interest to an otherwise plain structure. Consider the side of a garage with a single pedestrian window: Add a box of flowers, and it is now a focal point. Window boxes also break the monotony of nearly identical buildings, such as town or row houses, and lend visual harmony and rhythm. Not only must water move out of the container to prevent root rot, but it is imperative that moisture does not get trapped between the box and the building.
Frank Lauro, Jr. Having spent the past 20 years restoring and preserving historic buildings in Charleston, he has centered much of his work on water-damage remediation.
Red Beet Smoothie Recipe and 10 Benefits of Beets
He has also designed and installed window boxes for clients. Starting with treated lumber, he lines the interior and exposed upper edges with copper sheeting and plumbs them with irrigation tubes and water discharge pipes. One of his most elegant and durable creations has graced a downtown brick-and-stucco establishment in Charleston since Some manufacturers also offer brackets, braces and mounting hardware to use with their products.
Keep in mind that the box must be placed away from the main structure to avoid water damage and to accommodate airflow. Boxes that are placed up against a building hold moisture, which not only attracts insects, but also acts as a giant petri dish for mold and mildew. Ensure that the window box itself provides good drainage. Many merely have holes drilled in the bottom. Look for abundant and evenly spaced holes, not just a couple in the middle.
If you intend to install a window box that includes fittings for an irrigation system, make sure the water trickles into the soil and not down your siding.
Any window box plant that faces the hot afternoon sun or receives relentless blasts of heat from an air-conditioner exchange unit rarely survives. The reflective light from window glass also increases thermal intensity. On the other hand, if you are faced with scant sunlight, combine houseplants such as ZZ plant Zamioculcas zamiifolia , pothos or aspidistra. Crowd them together with shade-loving ferns for a jungle effect. What makes some window boxes stand out more than others?
Great designs have a creative blend of color, height variation and contrasting textures collectively spilling and spreading away from the container.
An exceptional one is also full of surprises, such as a vine that has been coaxed to twine upward instead of flowing toward the ground, or combining unexpected plants such as orchids with conventional flora. It also pays to explore beyond the annual and perennial sections of a garden center. Consider the potential of ornamental grasses, herbs, tropical plants and dwarf shrubs. Hothouse mophead hydrangeas have become popular choices for window boxes, and dwarf cedar and boxwood offer playful alternatives, if positioned off center.
Photos by PJ Gartin.
Making concrete molds for stepping-stones or miniature gardens is a fun, simple project. And they make great additions to your landscape! If you assemble your materials in one place, this garden project can be completed in less than an hour. However, it takes at least 12 hours or more for the concrete to dry. Step-by-Step Instructions 1. Follow the package direction for mixing the water and concrete. Wearing rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask, use an old trowel or something similar to mix the concrete to the right consistency — about the consistency of pancake batter.
Mix until all lumps are removed. Place the mold on a flat, level surface where it will remain until dry. Scoop the mixture into the mold. Lightly tap the mold to settle the mixture into all crevices.
Insert a wooden pencil to remove any air bubbles. Smooth the top using an old kitchen knife or board. Allow the concrete to set for about an hour before adding decorations. The time it takes the concrete to firm will vary depending on humidity, temperature, etc. Marbles, seashells, buttons, or small colorful stones add a personal touch.
To write, use a wooden dowel or even the handle of a wooden spoon. Concrete is very forgiving — if necessary, just smooth over the top with a flat-blade knife before it hardens and start over. When completely dry, loosen the concrete from the mold by slipping a knife around the edge. Allow to cure for about a month.
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Tips for Using Concrete Mix Always work outdoors when using concrete. Do not inhale the concrete dust. Wear safety glasses, dust mask, and rubber gloves. Avoid letting the concrete mix touch your skin. If this happens, wash immediately. If a rash develops, contact a poison control center in your area or state. Adult supervision is required for children. Types of Molds for Concrete Projects Molds can be nearly anything — from the preformed molds sold at big-box stores and online to cake pans, pizza boxes or old buckets.
Check out garage and yard sales for inexpensive molds. These can be re-used or discarded. The only limit is your imagination! This article was in a previous edition of a State-by-State Gardening publication. Stumpery Style by Helen Yoest. Picture in your mind a fern growing out of a stump, deep in the woods where an old tree fell. Romantic, naturalistic and calming compared to the excess of Victorian times, stumperies quickly became a popular garden style.
In many ways we have come full circle, with nature once again governing our tastes and garden design. Adding a stumpery to your woodland garden, particularly if there are already stumps in the area, can satisfy your desire for a more naturalistic look. He added piles of trees — creating feet high walls — on either side of a garden path. The trees were designed to provide a place for ferns to grow, since the Victorians were quite enamored of ferns.