My husband just installed a “new” front walk. We needed a surface that we could clear completely of snow of and ice because his mother now lives with us, and we can’t have her climbing our icy lower steps this winter. (I fall down them or up them every winter.) This walk ended up costing us about $30 in new materials.
I found the patio block we used for the walk 16 or 17 years ago.
I hit a “moving in” garage sale shortly after we purchased this house. The people who sold me the block had just bought their house as well. There was an almost brand-new patio made of this block outside their back door and they didn’t like the size and look of it, so they tore it out and were selling it for 15 cents a block! I talked it over with my husband, and he was reluctant to invest. He asked me, “What are we going to do with it?” I said, “I don’t know, but it’s a great deal, and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to come in handy.” He finally gave in with the comment, “OK, but I’m not going to have time to do anything with it right now.” I replied something like, “It’ll be there when we need it.”
I got the entire patio for about 50 bucks, hauled it home in my little red Toyota Tercel hatchback in about 3 or 4 loads, and stacked it on the cement slab outside the back door of our garage.
And there it sat for the next 10 years. We eventually created two sitting areas and a walkway around an outdoor storage shed with the block. One sitting area and the walkway remain. We cannibalized most of the biggest sitting area to get the materials for the front walk.
Fast forward 16 years. . . We intended to use new materials to create our front walk, but after checking big box stores, the ReStore, and a local cement products manufacturer, we were overwhelmed with stickers shock. It was going to cost between $500 and $600 to purchase and have the block delivered. We couldn’t find any used block or buy seconds. (We used to be able to buy slightly imperfect block for half the price of new, but because everyone is sue-happy these days, the cement products folks won’t sell it anymore. They also wanted $150 for delivery!)
I thought to myself, “There has to be some other way, because there is no way we are coming up with the money for this.” So I asked myself, “Who do I know, What can I find, What do we already have?” What we already had was a paved sitting area we rarely used that would work just as well chipped with free materials from our local composting site!
So that is what we did. We pulled up enough pavers to do the front walk, and my husband bought and hauled home in five-gallon buckets (you can never have too many of these buckets) enough crushed rock to create a bed for the repurposed pavers. My daughter and I visited the compost site and brought home a load of chips to cover the area where the pavers had been. The next day, I picked up a bag of polymer sand for my husband to sweep into the joints, and today I transplanted decorative thyme into the gaps in the edges of our new front walk. (I had pulled out 5 flats of the thyme when my husband dismantled the native limestone walk that was there previously. I gave away two flats to neighbors and saved three to reinstall along the “new” walk. The limestone will be used in two other areas of the yard. I try never to discard stone or brick–it always comes in handy somewhere!)
I made a nice mess of the walk filling the outside cracks with dirt and tucking in the thyme, but it will brush away easily when it dries. I think it looks pretty good right now–what do you think? Begonia