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Sidewalk Strip: Planting & Hardscape

By Picardy Project on Aug 17, 2012

There is finally no more cardboard (at least visible) in our front yard, hooray! Oh all the cardboard...

This past weekend I finally got to working on the sidewalk strip (after my back was no longer causing me problems and before I was relegated to a cast).

It has been looking like this for quite some time (this was taken several weeks back when we planted the rest of the yard and were wishful in getting to the sidewalk strip in the same day. Yeah right.)

Not wanting it to look like our front yard was covered in garbage, I finally cleared away the ripped up cardboard (used as weed block. When not ripped up of course)

But before I got all excited to plant I had to dig out the strip a little bit. The dirt was the same height, and sometimes higher than the sidewalk, and in order to get a layer of mulch down I needed to dig out 2-6 inches depending on the area. So dig away I went


It was a HOT day so I set up a chair and a nice cool beverage in the shade to take breaks as I dripped sweat from time to tome. But I kept digging

I was dying the last 2 feet and my back started bothering me again (clearly I'm falling apart) so Chris came to my rescue

Once everything was dug out we started planning out the strip. We knew we wanted 2 areas with paving stones to make a nice area to step out to from the cars. Normally Chris parks his car on the driveway, but it's currently blocked with a huge pile of dirt, so right now he parks it on the street next to me. I always park on the street so it'll be good to have a spot for passengers to step out onto and if another car parks in front of my spot it'll be nice for them too

We figured out the rough size by getting in the cars and checking to see how much room we would comfortably want when we got out. Very scientific. And once the size was figured out I brought over our square paving stones left over from the "original" front yard. We didn't want a solid pad of stones, but we were having trouble with the pattern

Neither of us were thrilled with how the squares were working. The space was fixed and obviously so are the stones, so making a geometric pattern was difficult. But then Chris had the brilliant idea of using the same stones that we used for the walkway and use the leftover rocks we still had in between them. Duh! With the walkway decided on we laid out new cardboard for our weed block (the old one was totally ripped and had lots of holes and would therefor not work very well). Then we marked for our pads and laid out the plants

We went with low growing juniper for several reasons: it's drought tolerant and once it's established it needs very little water, it's low maintenance, it spreads wide to cover a large area, and it grows only about 6" high. With Chris digging and me planting we motored through it

Then we spread out some mulch (not too close to the pads) and laid down some rocks just to keep the cardboard from moving around too much

That evening (Saturday) we headed out to Lowe's to pick up 18 of the same stones that we used for our walkway and Sunday morning we filed in the pad with more rocks and I laid out the stones

Chris used some mortar to fix them in place

When they were all set in Chris used the leftover mortar to make a line where the rocks would end and the mulch began. Then I spread out some rocks on top and pressed them down to hopefully make a decent enough line between the rocks and mulch. Ideally we should have used edging, but we were too lazy

If there's too much co-mingling between the rocks and mulch we'll come back later with edging, but for the time being we're fine to see how things go.

After spreading out the last of the mulch and hosing down the (FILTHY) sidewalk, we are happy to call the sidewalk strip done!

I think it's awesome that it's like a mini front yard: the same walkway (large paving stones in smaller rocks) and simple, drought tolerant plants with mulch. It ties everything together very nicely. Also, we're happy to report that our little stone pads are a great size and placed nicely as they've come in handy as we get in and out of our cars and have a nice area to walk on instead of trampling on the mulch and future growing juniper.

We really only have a few more tasks to complete before the yard is DONE and I can do my first Before and After post in a loooooong time: get rid of the huge pile of dirt, get rid of the old stepping stones still all over the driveway, plant in the window flower bed and fancy up my gnome as a nice welcome to the house :) We're so close!

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