April 19

Redesigning the back garden with a center lawn path

This project is a complete redesign of the focal point of the back garden. The center lawn pathway is beinig redone to be at an angle to the deepest part of the garden, on a diagonal. You can see the drawing of the redesign here.

The center pathway will be the the focal point of the garden, with roses lining it on either side for the most part. I am even planning a sort of arbor to come across the top of this pathway using 8ft 4x4 wooden beams.

Its a large change from last years layout of the garden as you can see in this photo.

The red lines give an idea of where the center path is going to eventually be when it's all done.

The first thing I should cover is why am I making this change? Well, it's all about the main view of the garden. 95% of the time, the garden is viewed from the patio (in the lower right of the photo above.) When we have people over, when we are outside just enjoying the garden, we are sitting at the table and chairs on the patio. When you look onto the garden from the patio, you look to the far opposite corner of the fenced in garden. The deepest part of the garden. That's the view most people take and that's the view most people will view everything from, so that's the point of view I designed the garden from.

When I started laying out the center path I would check it against my drawing. BTW, that drawing has changed (no shock there) and I forget if I'm on my 3rd or 4th version of it.

I set up strings attached to stakes to layout the dimensions of the center path. Trying to decide what what the best width for it. I went back and forth from 12 ft wide, to 8ft wide. I would walk along and get a feel for it and see how much room was left on either side because the plan is to have vegetable rows inside of a bordered flower garden. I didn't want to take away too much of the room for the vegetables. At this point I also changed from using bricks for the borders on either side, to using plastic edging. One of the big problems with plastic edging seems to be making it straight. And I needed these edges on either side of the path to be very straight. Wibbly wobbly wouldn't look good and would ruin the effect. Well, it really wasnt that hard to do with the plastic edging if you put a stake in every hole and pull tight as you go. If for some reason a stake couldn't go into a hole, because of a rock or root or something, I would skip a hole and put a stake in the very next hole. Sometimes I would even put a stake, not in a premade hole, but up against the wall of the edging to fix a small area that wasn't quite as straight as I wanted it to be.

I did a test of overdressing the lawn that was already there by adding some bagged garden soil to it, raising the level a little to be even with the plastic edging I had put in. I put the edging in backwards from how most people tell you how to use it. I hammered the stakes in, on the grass side. I was planning on raising the level of the lawn so I was going to be adding soil on top that would cover up the stakes and with new grass seed on top, the grass would come inches above the new level of the soil. In my experience, lawns are always the highest level between paths, planting beds and lawns so I wanted to make sure the lawn was higher up that the paths that were going to be on either side of it.

The edging acted as a leveling device that I would place my rake against to make sure I raised the level of the soil enough. The area on the other side of the edging would be dug out and lower that the lawn area next to it.

Another view. You can see how I was careful to fill the soil up the level of the edging. Almost like a raised bed, which this essentially was. I knew some of the grass would grow through the new soil and I would overseed anyway so that wasn't a problem.

This is where I ran into my first problem (and my second.) The edging I had is only 1 1/2 inches in width and when I started to dig out area next to the center lawn which would be the planting bed I realized there would be a problem with grass coming under the edge because the edge was against dirt - a planting bed - not against a hard edge like concrete. This made me stop and think about using plastic edging for the borders of this pathway. I also would need a lot of soil to bring the level of the lawn to the point I wanted it. I took a break for a few days to mull over this problem.

Which is when I noticed another problem.

The center path was off. It was not in the right spot. I compared the drawing and where the path was and it was like 2-3 feet to far to the right.

The center of the path in my drawing was slightly to the left of the back corner in my drawing, but I had made the path so that the center of it was clearly to the right of the back corner. I set up a new string line where the corrected center should be as you can see in the photo above. The stick to the right was the old center of the path so you can see just how off I was.

The path edges would have to be moved so since I was going to essentially move the whole path, I decided to pull up all the plastic edging and because of the problem I could forsee with grass and weeds coming underneath that edging, I decided to scratch that plastic edging for the bordered to the pathway for now.

I had a number of long 2x4's that I thought would be perfect to use to setup the new edges of the pathway. Using a halfmoon edger to make a few corrections and using some of the plastic edging spikes to hold the wood in place, I setup the new edges.

Again I added more soil like I was filling a raised bed.

This picture shows the corrected center pathway. The bricks that were going to loop around the curved top of the old walkway are still there.

I then worked on the right edge to the lawn pathway with as half moon edger following along the string I had setup to determine where the new right side edge would be. Do you see that wood piece on the ground? That was where the old right side edge was. That's how far off I was.

Here's another angle of the right hand side of the new center path. I used the half moon edger to chop through the grass and make that nice sharp edge, but now all the grass to the right of that edge would have to be removed. That is all going to be planting area.

This was a big job with some thick grass so it was time to go right for the mechanical help. The tiller.

I tilled the other side of the path too. This was going to take more than just 1 pass with the tiller. I figured multiple passes in perpendicular rows would work best.

I had added soil to the edge and put down grass seed and also transplanted good grass from other parts of the garden where I was going to till the grass up to get rid of it. I figured, I might as well use it and moved it into the center pathway. I continued working on the planting bed and getting the curved shape as the top of the center pathway. This picture is from the opposite end of the pathway looking back towards the patio. You can see grass starting to come in along the left edge of the grass pathway.

The same viewpoint from the other side of the grass pathway. Lots of transplanted sod at the top of the path that will eventually be a nice curve at the top of the path. Still some more grass removal is need in this planting bed but it's all coming along. Bit by bit, piece by piece.

As time has gone on, the new grass has started really coming in nicely. The old grass that was there hit a spurt and is really growing a bunch. I will keep working on tidying up the pathway and the planting beds around it and keep you up to date on it. I have already began planting the roses around the borders of the pathway. I can't wait for the next update!


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