A seating area midway down the walk breaks up the long straight line. Because the path borders the dining room and kitchen this area could also become a great grilling spot.
1. Build the boundaries of your pathway. Here, 1 x 4 boards make the framework. Fill the area with construction-grade sand,
and level it with a 1 x 8 board. Then, cover the surface with foundation gravel to a depth of at least 1 inch.
2. Tamp the gravel into the sand with a ground tamper to make a firm foundation.
3. Wearing gloves, spread mortar mix into the area, making it level with the border’s framework. Michael suggests working in small sections.
4. Set river rocks and beach pebbles into the dry mortar mix, in a pattern if you like.
5. Use a soft bristle brush to work the mortar into spaces between the stones.
6. Place the 1 x 8 board over the freshly placed rocks and gently tamp it with a rubber mallet. “This levels the pathway and prevents pockets that could collect moisture,” Tommy says.
7. Use the “mist” setting on the hose nozzle, and wet the mortar. “This is the most important part,” Tommy says. “Wet the mortar’s surface and let it sit for a moment. Then, wet it again, and then again until it’s thoroughly saturated.” Mortar hardens, or cures, over several days. “The key to the mortar’s stability is moisture,” Michael says. “Wet the path at least twice a day, or cover it with plastic to keep it damp for several days.” Once uncovered, allow it to dry for several more days before walking on it.
For added strength, protect the mortar with a concrete sealer. Choose the patina you like and apply it according to directions.
"Make the Most of a Tight Spot" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living.