Paved Sidewalk – Phase I

Man, have we been working hard!  Joe and I have been out in the yard the last few days, working on a paved walk up to the house.  I am quite impressed with his preparation because he researched everything well in advance, purchased all the materials, and knew just how to do the project from start to finish.  My job is generally to figure out what I can do to be “helpful” and hopefully not do anything to mess it up in the process.  Most of the time I succeed and we work together quite well creating a good finished product.  Here is the “Before” shot:



This project has a lot of heavy lifting, digging, and pounding.  I am not a big muscle-man, so I focus on acting like an ant and carrying small loads over and over and over again until the job is done in many trips but done, nonetheless.  I am taking some pictures as it goes along to document it because once it is finished there will be no trace of the hard work it took to get there.

So, step one was to lay out the outline of the sidewalk.  We want it to be a ramp that comes right up to the breezeway and eliminates tricky steps for my mother to overcome with her walker.  We used huge, heavy manufactured stones to make a sturdy frame, and at the high end they were stacked two high and cemented together.  We did exhaustive leveling, measuring, and re-setting the stones to get them exactly the right depth and distance apart.  Very tedious, but it was gratifying to watch the lines gradually form and extend down the hill.

Border Stones

Border Stones

It was more fun after we got to the curvy part and we had to pick out the stone shapes that would follow the lines we had laid out.  Not only did the curves have to look smooth but they had to end up at the right spot alongside the driveway and be at the perfect height so that water would drain off the sidewalk in the right direction.  I thought we’d never get that done, but eventually we had this pretty outline of the future sidewalk and we felt quite proud.

Today, we worked mostly on the space in between the borders.  We dug out the topsoil and the gravelly dirt underneath and put them into two piles.  We needed exactly 5 inches of depth but this wasn’t so hard to measure because the bordering stones are 5 inches deep.   Hauling it all away was a heavy job and after awhile it seemed like we’d moved the same familiar dirt piles over and over.

Crushed Limestone

Crushed Limestone

Now, we poured in crushed limestone, raked it out to a depth of 2 inches and pounded it down with a big heavy “tamper”.  So far I have not landed it on my foot but I have had visions of the disasters my carelessness could cause and have been nervously vigilant.  I may develop some of those he-man muscles after all.

On top of the limestone goes 1 inch of paving sand.  Now, Joe found this cool method of getting this right.  He got PVC tubes with a 1 inch diameter and laid them on top of the limestone, then poured the sand on top and we pulled a stick across the tubes and scraped off the sand above the tube height.  That worked amazingly well.  Then you pull out the tubes and fill in the space where they were.  Of course when it was all beautiful the dog came trotting down the path and left big paw prints in our smooth sand but we forgave him and started over.

It won't fit!

It won’t fit!

Finally, we got to start putting in the paving stones.  Joe had laid out the pattern of the 4 sizes of stones and I hauled piles of them them from their pallets and laid them out along the border.  The first row went in beautifully until the last stone — and it did not fit!!  Aaagh!  Surprisingly, Joe did not panic and fetched a rubber hammer and crowbar from the barn and he managed to avert a disaster.  From that point on it went pretty smoothly.

Success of Brute Force

Success of Brute Force

Tomorrow I hope to get back out there early before it gets hot and pick up where we left off.  Maybe I’ll be able to post a picture of the finished product by the end of the week.

About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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4 Responses to Paved Sidewalk – Phase I

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    WOW, your sidewalks are gorgeous… You’ve done a REALLY nice job!!
    We are (over;)due to re lay our sidewalk/deck, so I’ve really appreciated watching here as a refresher – thanks! (BTW, using the 1′ pipe as a measure for depth is a stroke of genius, so DOUBLE thanks (will definitely be borrowing this idea: )
    OMG, did I understand you correctly when you said that you tamped all of this BY HAND? (Hope you both took some arm measurements before starting this project; ) We will be “cheating” once again and renting a gas-powered tamper. It’s noisy and smelly, but the deck is large (and we are alot older than the first time we did the job; )
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Will you be using some sort of edging to keep all of your hard work from going astray?
    (Please trust me when I say that it would be good insurance):

    • bluestempond says:

      Deb, thanks for the feedback. We did work very hard but the tamping wasn’t so bad. Maybe I did not use all the strength I should.
      We did not use edging on the long sidewalk because we had those big boulders on the edges. However all the other paved areas do have the edging. I hope we don’t later wish we had put it everywhere.

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Hopefully you’ll be fine. (You did say the soil is fairly well-drained anyway.)
        Our biggest problem (well problems, actually) was, first not waiting ’til at least one winter had passed to allow for settling before even starting the brickwork and second, using pressure-treated 6×6 as edging… (Every year, the frost works at spitting it right out of the ground):
        You know that old saying? The one about “Life’s lessons hardest learned…” (Are the ones you don’t forget! LOL; )

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