The entrance of a house is the first thing you see when you get there, and the last thing you see when you leave. So, unless you are a hermit of some sort that has no friends or visitors of any kind, the entrance is a fairly important part of the house. It sets the tone for a friend’s short stay for tea, or your own day at work. And if your entrance is full of dead bushes and sharp uneven rocks, the tone for the day can be set to a rather negative level. Your visitor will curse the invite you gave them and refuse future engagements after they’ve tripped and smacked their face on sharp slate. So now that we are depressed and friendless, we decided to do some work on the front walkway of our house.
The walkway is made up of the same slate that is on the inside floors of our house. It looks like it was just set into dirt or sand originally, with some mulched plant beds on both sides, which before now housed mostly dead plants.
First of all, you will notice that these stones really don’t fit together that well. This will come into play later, but the we ripped those stones out of the ground and dug up the old crusty bushes.
The slate was very uneven. Uneven in such a way that created raised edges of these sharp pieces of rock up to catch your foot in the dark, or in the day, or any time. Aside from some natural settling there was a real reason for the wonkiness, a massive root.
With that out of the way, we had to grab the shovel and level things out. Luckily, there was mostly sand under the slate. So we just had to pack it down again. Our method of choice was to repeatedly jump up and down on an old cabinet door. It was surprisingly effective and sufficiently tiring at the same time.
We wanted a nice division between the mulch and bushes and the rocks and slate, but didn’t want it to call attention to itself, so we chose paver edging. It’s stiff, durable and easy to install with stakes. In conjunction with that, we planted some new Japanese holly bushes.
Jen’s favorite part came next. I had previously laid some of the slate stones out on the driveway to preserve their original configuration. But when we started placing the stones back into the walkway they just didn’t look right, and that’s where Jen’s puzzle skills took over. I eagerly jumped in when I realized we could do much better than what was previously there.
With the slate in down, we used some paver base in the gaps to set them in place.
Then to get the paver base to settle down a bit, sprayed it with the hose and waited a week. After that, all we need to make were a few small adjustments to ensure everything steady and level.
The next step was to fill in between the pavers and plant bed with rock. We chose a decorative semi-rounded carolina river stone from our local Rock Shop. We wanted something that provided good contrast with the slate and the mulch. Also at $5 per gallon we got more than enough stone for $20. So we brought our own big plastic bins and filled them up. With the addition of a few bags of mulch, we finished the transformation from an unwelcoming sketchy death trap to organized, beautiful and welcoming front entrance.