One such issue we noticed last winter related to the front walkways...our beautiful naturally set (read as: set in dirt) stone walkways. All winter long - the snow melt turned the dirt into mud between the stones. This mud remained wet, soft, sticky and mucky throughout the winter. So much so that when you walked on the stones you could feel them shift/tilt under foot. Then god forbid you missed the stone and your boot sunk into the mud...no amount of hopping in the snow was going to get all that mud out and keep the kids tracking it into the house.
Sure there were those lucky mornings when the mud had a stiff upper layer from the previous night's freeze, but any trips outside during the day included Karen and myself pleading with the kids "skip from stone to stone!" or "don't step in the MUD!"...and no matter how nicely we begged, those requests were usually followed by the sound of one (or more) of the kids saying "oops."
Original Front Walkway Original Side Walkway
Making an already laid Walkway Mud-Proof without taking it apart and reinstalling
This walkway was really nice! I really wanted no part of numbering every stone with chalk, taking pictures of the pattern, then lifting all the stones and then reinstalling it. So I came up with a great idea that I will dig out the dirt in-between every stone then fill the space with pea gravel. I mean how hard could that be?!
The first thing I tried was a small hand shovel. However it turned out that was too big. So what turned out to be the perfect tool? A flat-head screwdriver! Yup. I removed the dirt "grout" from in-between every stone with a screwdriver!
Step 1 - Loosen the Dirt in-between Each Stone
I had a foam kneeling pad and spent hours (like 12 hours!) digging out the dirt between each stone with my handy dandy flat-head screwdriver. If you look carefully in the picture to the right you can see my screwdriver sticking straight up in the dirt in front of the white garbage can (There is a better picture below).
My Tool of Choice
Step 2 - Remove the Dirt from the Walkway
After the screwdriver loosened the dirt, using a pair of mechanics gloves to protect my fingers, I scooped up a majority of the dirt and threw it inside an old kitchen garbage can. I then dumped the dirt along my property.
Step 3 - Get the Rest of the Loose Dirt Out
I used my backpack blower to blow out any remaining loose dirt between the cracks. Sorry no pictures of me actually using the backpack blower, but here are a bunch of after pictures:
The Intersection Between the front Walkway and the Side Walkway
Step 4 - Work on the Stepping Stone Side Walkway
The side walkway was more of a stepping stone style, rather than the interlocking style of the front walkway. Therefore I picked up the stones and placed them to the side. Then using a flat edged shovel I cut an edge on the sides of the walkway and dug down a couple inches along the whole path.
Step 6 - Fill in the Cracks with Pea Gravel
I chose pea gravel because it was small enough to fit in the cracks of the front walkway, but would still allow rain or thawed snow to drain to the bottom, rather than sit on top.
I picked up 3/4 yard at Georges Market in Latham.
This part of the work was actually fun, fast and easy. All I had to do was dump some pea gravel from my wheelbarrow onto the path and then I used a large push broom to sweep the pea gravel into the cracks.
I used the same process for the side walkway.
Of course no project would be complete without a visit from my biggest fans and little helpers.
So far, so good. The walkway is working out well. It rained very heavily last night and there are no mud puddles sitting on top of the walkways as they would have before this project. The pea gravel allowing the water to drain and is working out well. It is not perfect, because it tends to get loose every once in a while (especially when the kids pick it up to let it fall through their fingers....but who can blame them...it feels nice!), but nothing that doesn't clean up nicely.
Overall this project can be considered an great success, unless you of course are my screwdriver...