Rock the Walk

I’m so excited to share the latest project at the house!  It’s been complete for a few weeks now, but it took a while to get around to posting it because there are sooo many pictures!  I narrowed them down best I could, but be prepared for a long one!

In addition to putting the finishing touches to the deck with a few steps, we also re-did the walkway – that same weekend!  (I really know how to put my Dad to work!) In true, renovation fashion, I took a couple ‘before’ pictures of the walkway:




The plan was to pull up the existing walkway, and the grass near the deck to extend the walkway to the deck.  As pretty as Avery’s artwork looks on the existing walkway…


…it was pretty shabby looking.  The plan was to replace it using a mold that you pour concrete into – the same one my parents had used at their house years ago:


Love the cobblestone look!  And it’s pretty cheap too.  I measured the area and predicted we could do it in $80:

  • 25 molds (50lbs/mold)
  • 80lb bag of concrete ($4 includes tax) x 19 bags = $76
  • sand to fill in between molds = $5
  • pathway mold (from parents) = free
  • babysitter (free) = thanks, Grammy!
  • labor (free) = thanks, Dad!
Well, with all home projects… we went a little over budget.  It all started Saturday morning when I woke up well rested after being able to sleep in until 7am (Thanks Grammy & Grampy!), and saw Grampy working on the walkway already…

We had hoped the walkway was just a thin layer of asphalt, but we should have known better – as there is always something unexpected when we take on a project.  This time, it was 4 inch deep concrete under the thin layer of asphalt – eek!


But I shouldn’t be surprised… there was layers of flooring on top of each other and layers of paint in the kitchen when we demo’d it for renovation… so I should have expected the previous owner to have taken the easy route with this as well and just built over what was there.


The plan was to hit the asphalt with a sledge hammer and it would break apart – well with a little elbow grease and wedging a shovel under the concrete, we were able to break it up enough to put it in a pile on the sidewalk… and oh man was it a big pile…


Thankfully, our friend offered to take it off our hands – otherwise I would have had to pay to take it to the dump station in town… then we would have REALLY been over budget!

We spent the first couple hours of the morning digging up the old walkway – Avery even joined in to help!


And yes, I was working too… I just can’t manage to take a picture of myself while working… being in two places at once is still something I’m trying to master.


Did I mention my Dad turned 50 this year?  Let’s just say he was a wee bit sore the next day…. but hey, I’m just keeping him young, right?!


After we tore up the old walkway, we moved onto the grassy area leading to the deck.  We mapped out an idea of where we’d put the pathway mold and dug up the grass in that area.  We set it aside to reuse in another part of the yard where an old stump was and needed grass – nothing goes to waste at our house!


Good thing we started early too, because it was a hot day (I had a sunburn to prove it).  By late morning we had it all dug up …


Next, we made a trip to Lowes to grab (haha… grab is not the term to use for this as I was keeling over trying to lift these 80lb bags) concrete and sand – like, 30 bags total! We would need more sand than expected because we had to fill in the deep walkway because of the thick concrete (#overbudget).

When we returned home, with the truck bed practically scraping the road from the weight of the bags (not really, but man was it heavy!), it was time to put down the sand where the old walkway was.  Before we got down to business, a wheel barrow race was in order:


Avery was such a little helper! Although most of the day he played a much better ‘supervisor’, in his new ‘cars’ camping chair and cooled off with a special drink from Dunks.


Onto the sand…. we broke open the bags and filled in the deep trench where the old walkway was.


The sand would make the area high enough so when we put the walkway over it, it would be the same height as the neighboring grass.


With the sand layed out, it was time to start pouring the concrete into the mold.  We started near the deck where the layout of the mold would be most difficult because it was on an angle.


We broke a bag of concrete in the wheel barrow and added water.


We mixed the water with concrete until it was at the right consistancy – wet, but not too runny.


Then we used a shovel to transfer the concrete mix to the mold.



After we put the concrete in the molds, I used a putty knife to smooth and even out the concrete within the mold.  That’s me leaning over doing that… which was the perfect position for a sunburn… ouch.


Then we would wait (aka work on the stair project) about 10-15 minutes before I’d go back and smooth it out one last time.  This would allow the water to rise up and all the larger chunks of concrete to settle at the bottom.  If we didn’t do this, our rocks would looks rocky with small rocks… not a look I liked.  So we spent the time smoothing it out.


Then we’d wait another 10-20 minutes, lift the mold up, move it next to the stones we just made, and do it all over again.  Sometimes the corner of the rocks would fall apart when we lifted the mold, but I did some sculpting with wet hands and fixed it.

After hour of work… we made some progress…



And while we were busily working.. Avery was having a grand old time playing outside….


He played in his sandbox… had a picnic with Grammy and planted some flowers…



At the end of the day, the walkway looked a little something like this:


Yay!  So excited with how it looks!  We even did hand & footprints on a few of the rocks:


We waited for it to dry overnight.  Sunday morning we filled in the spaces between the ‘rocks’ with sand.


We spread the sand around with a shovel and watered it to help it settle.


The sand added such a nice finishing touch.



The next weekend, the yard was mowed (did you notice how ridiculous it was in the earlier pictures!?) and added walkway lights to finish the project…





We are thrilled with how it turned out…  it turned out being a $149 project… but hey, it looks like a $500 project!  Well worth the $ and the effort!

Our backyard has come so far from what it looked like 2 years ago when we bought the house:

Backyard 2011:

backyard before

Backyard 2013:


Yay!  Project accomplished.  Onto the next one…

What Spring/Summer projects are you working on around the house?  Check out our list of projects to see what we have planned next!