Small Backyard Makeover, designed by Falonland Studios, installed by Patiovore

This client had a blank slate and a small budget. They needed a path behind the pool that wasn’t mud, and some greenery to cancel out the starkness of the surroundings.

Thankfully, they also have parents that have either a very green thumb or a knack for tending to rapidly spreading plants, or both. They had a lot of plants to work with, and buried limestone to dig up, wash clean, and reset for the new walkway.

Falonland Studios – a landscape architecture and land art studio practicing in TX and FL – figured out the simplest, least expensive design for the most impact, and we handled the installation. (Note: we love and highly recommend this firm. The woman that runs it has an admirable talent for sustainable, artful, and resourceful design.)

We love a small, quick project every once in a while, and were happy to keep costs low by making use of the many materials they already had on hand.

Before:

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Surface of walkway behind the pool, before.

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After:

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Zig-zagged galvanized wire with eye-bolts set through the pickets and into the posts. This is one of the least expensive ways to set up a trellis, but it’ll be important to keep vines from getting too heavy. Eye protection is critical here – rolled wire has an odd appetite for eyeballs :/

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Not the best photo of one of my favorite small details – matching/mirroring the curves.

The end result involved a simple wire trellis for vines along the fence; a walkway with compacted crushed concrete base, with limestone and decomposed granite on top. Edging was installed along the border, with curves matching and mirroring the edges of the pool, and plants buried with organic fertilizer and top layer of fresh mulch.

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Additional note about the hardscape:

This walkway is in an area that holds water (the dirt was saturated every time we visited, with moss growing on the surface) so it needed a firm base, and a slightly less permeable base to deter weeds. Where there is water, ample sun and DG in Houston, there will be weeds. We tamped a 2-3″ layer of crushed concrete (with fines and sand) before spreading stones and packing the top layer of DG.

It’s important to get the base right for the longest possible lifespan with a hardscaped area. Done wrong and it can pretty quickly become a bed of weed-woven stone or a mud pit with sharp edges. Not fun!

One more thing – crushed gravel with fines/small particles takes time to cure/settle. You can tamp and compact like crazy, but it still takes a couple cycles of rain and drying out again to lock a gravel like this in place. I try not to stomp all over the flagstones like it’s done until after this phase. If a flagstone still wiggles after this phase it may need more attention to the gravel underneath – but it’s more likely to need a home in a different part of the walkway or the wrath of a happy sledgehammer.

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Spread, leveled, and tamped recycled concrete from Southern Crushed Concrete Co.
Laying out the flagstone.
Laying out the flagstone.