Monday, June 11, 2007

Why Is It Called Flagstone?

Romie has come to dread it somewhat when he hears me say, "Honey, I have an idea..." I know that behind my back, he's rolling his eyes and thinking, "What now?" and "How much is this going to cost?" Whenever I get an idea, he rarely shoots me down altogether, but if he is reluctant to go along with it, I'll remind him of how he always likes things after we've carried my ideas out. His response? "I liked it before, too."

When I talked about our projects previously, there was one that I didn't mention, because it was one of those ideas that just randomly pops into my head and then we do it shortly after. We had a stepping stone walkway that led from our patio to the pool, using stones that my Grandma had given us when she didn't want them anymore. They were roughly 12 inches in diameter and had the texture and appearance of a slice of tree. Romie had set them down into the grass last summer.

Sometime about two months ago, I decided I wanted to replace those stepping stones with flagstone. As you can imagine, he did not see the need to do this and kind of dragged his feet about it. He knew that he was going to be the one that would do all the work on this one and while I can understand why he didn't want to do it, I still wanted it done.

When we went to Beining's Nursery back in April, we picked out 17 feet of various pieces of flagstone to make a walkway about two feet wide. We laid it out there at the nursery, and got a few extra pieces than we thought we'd need. They weighed it and at 11 cents a pound, the total came to around forty dollars. Very reasonable!

The flagstone sat stacked on our patio for several weeks, then when Romie found out he needed surgery, this was one task he wanted to get completed. Last week, he finished it and I love it. He likes it too, of course, but true to form he mentioned that he liked it before.

His assumption was that we would let grass grow between the flagstones, but my vision was to plant "Stepables", which are very low-growing, creeping plants that can take light foot traffic. He didn't really know quite what I was talking about until I brought them home.

I got three different things:

  • Red Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox 'Coccineus')
  • Irish Moss (Sagina subulata)
  • Dwarf Thrift (Armeria 'Victor Reiter')

Jenna spent the night last night, so she was there to supervise while I planted them between the cracks in the flagstone. I placed them so that they were entirely bordered by the stone so that mowing by the walkway won't affect them, although these all three grow so tightly to the ground the mower probably wouldn't cut them much anyway.

For planting, I used my garden tool that I don't use very often, but when the situation presents itself, I'm glad I have it. I don't even know what it's called, but it is sort of fork-shaped. I've used it for extracting tough weeds, loosening soil in tight spots, and digging small holes for planting, which is what made it perfect for this job. It was part of a set of hand tools that I bought from Smith and Hawken two years ago, when they had them on sale. They even came with a nifty wooden case for storing them that hangs on the wall.

I've given instructions to not walk on the Stepables for a few days, to allow them to settle in. All of them are moderate to fast growers, so the cracks will probably be filled by the end of summer.

Another project completed! I wonder what the next one will be . . .


kate said...

I had to laugh when I read your post - my father reacts exactly the same way to my mum. These days, at 82, he grumbles some but off they go to do my mum's latest project.

This was a great idea of yours. The flagstone path looks inviting and suits the area to perfection. The plants will be great between the stones - by summer's end, it will seem as if the path has been there for years!

Alyssa said...

Fantastic job with the beautiful walkway. I just love it. And the plants will be so pretty. They look quite nice already.

I'll bet it was a rather back breaking job. It sounds so quick and easy when you write about it, but I'm sure it was a big undertaking.

You two should be very proud.

Muum said...

mmm, I have some irish moss and thyme in my rock walkway,, it is lovely. We didn't know it was there for several years, my husband found it one day, it was covered in grass! but it is a fun project. It is a little dry here (Utah)for the irish moss, but it is hanging in there.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Great story Kylee and it sounds like your Romie and my under-gardener should have a talk about their head-gardeners some time. ;-)

The finished result looks great. Just wait until you see it all in a few months time, it will be wonderful!!!

Unknown said...

Wow... Kylee, pat Romie on the back for me (if he's feeling up to it, that is) and tell him he does GREAT work! That looks absolutely perfect.

I bought some Stepables this year, too. Mine are silene (bladder campion) and I couldn't resist them because they have blue leaves that turn pinkish in the cold weather and stay that way. I'm using mine as a groundcover, though, not to walk on. I keep eying the moss that you bought, though. If it goes on sale (since I don't "need" it for a project, I won't pay full price) I will not be held responsible for my buying... ;)

Ki said...

Great looking path!

I've been thinking for several years about putting a flagstone path completely around our house but the amount of work always puts me off. I noticed that you put the stones directly into the ground. Won't you have ground heave in the winter and lift those stones right out of the ground? All the books I've read on the subject instructs to put down a good base layer usually abut 5" thick layer of crushed rocks and setting the stones in a layer of sand 2-3" deep.

I'd be very interested to know if you have ground heave because I'd rather not go through all the work of lay down a base layer if I don't have to.

Kylee Baumle said...

Ki, it's probably best to do the base layer, because yes, we do have heaving here. But we've done it both ways and we find not much difference in how they behave.

We have a bricked patio that Romie did many years ago and for that, he did put a base layer of pea gravel and sand and he still has had to redo parts of it over the years. We also have a brick walkway around half of our house and he didn't do a base layer with that, and he hasn't had to redo that much over the approximately 15 years we've had it. Most of it hasn't had to be redone at all.

My parents have the same brick pathway around part of their house and my dad did the base layer and he has had to redo parts of his, same as us.

So...while my personal feeling is that the base layer is a good thing, our experience in our area (with our heavy clay soil) is that it hasn't mattered much.

Ki said...

Thanks very much for the information Kylee! We have clay soil too so I'll try it without the base layer. It will save me a ton of work. I noticed that some plants were heaved right out of the planting beds so I was concerned about heaving but the beds are amended soil rather than clay so I hope this will work.

Kylee Baumle said...

Same here with the amending in the gardens and I have heaving, but only with certain things (heucheras especially).

I hope you won't be cursing me later if you don't do the base layer, but this is just our experience with it and without it.

One thing the base layer would make easier is to get the flagstone level. Romie found that to be more of a challenge with flagstone than brick, of course, since each stone is different.

Good luck, ki!

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