How To Build Rock Garden Trail, Make Your Own Walkway

March 27 2015

Make a sidewalks around the house, build a walkway or set up a garden path, if well done is a work that is forever and year after year will be intact and  contributes to enhance the property’ value, giving a touch of personalization that makes it unique and special and lovable to you.

Traditional materials such as bricks and stones, normally used to build walkways and driveways, are always appreciated both for their appearance and for the duration, however the majority of these products are generally quite expensive and sometimes they require some practice for the installation.

A simple alternative, easy and downright cheap, is given by the possibility of building it with concrete or mortar that can be poured into molds and that forms a paved stonlike or imitates bricks of various shapes.

The result will be a nice complement of your garden, beautiful and personalized, blending the aesthetic fashion of old bricks or the beauty of natural stones with a long duration and, not last, at the only cost of the sole concrete poured into the molds.

TOOLS TO MAKE A DIY WALKWAY

  • Tools For the excavation and site preparation,
  • concrete stamp or mold,
  • shovel
  • level,
  • trowel
  • finishing trowel
  • paintbrush

MATERIAL TO BUILD YOUR ROCK TRAIL

  • Mortar or crack-resistant concrete,
  • liquid color for cement,
  • plastic sheets,
  • polymer-modified joint sand,
  • paintbrush for finishing.

Building a paved walkway in your garden is a good do-it-yourself work that requires some effort, but once finished, it will give you a great satisfaction.

First, if the work overlaps a pre-existing trail, it is necessary to trace with accuracy the outline of the new walkway (we usually name this as the project starting-up phase) then, after we have established the location and width of the garden trail and having maybe drawn a sketch on a piece of paper, we set the mold or stamp that we have previously built by ourselves or purchased.

Then we have to make a quite liquid quantity of mortar and pour it into the mold.

After that, while the mortar is still workable (means, not completely dry) we must finish the surface edges with a wet little spatula or a small trowel to make it more smooth as possible. Then, when the mortar will be just a little dried, but not completely dry (this is to prevent cracks), we remove the mold carefully and complete the finishing work by using a wet paintbrush to smooth the edges.

At this point you can place the mold to the next segment of your garden walkway and so on until completion of the route.

Probably the easiest is using molds of a size of about 2 feet but, here the discussion could be extended because if you are going to buy the mold, then there a verry wide choice available in the best shops and stores, DIY). However, with a little effort and a very little cost, we can make one by ourselves, a mold personalized and unique .

There are several kind of molds or patterns, can be made of

  • plastic,
  • metal,
  • wood

and, especially on the latter type, you can make one by using strips of wood to get geometric pattern, preferably with straight sections. Instead, if you want to get rounded shapes (to mimic the stones’ shape) you can use plastic strips or even better you can find the metal strips used in gardening to demarcate the land of the flower beds.

In this post we want to describe the basic steps to help you to create your garden walkway as well giving some tricks in order to easily make the curved parts of your garden trail.

Please also note that if you light to give a special look to the entire work to personalize your own walkway, you can change the type of finishing at your own or use special dyes to color the concrete according to your own personal taste.

Here’s how to proceed step by step.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN GARDEN WALKWAY

  1. The first work to be done is the preparation of the fund. So we have to level appropriately the ground preparing the base on which we will draw our trail relying on the little project that we mentioned before. We will therefore eliminate the plates and, if necessary, we remove a certain amount of soil to get room enough for the concrete base.Better would be to dig all the way, to a depth of about 5 to 10 inches and then fill it with gravel well compacted. We must press very well, compacting the layer of gravel so that it will be flatten and smooth.
  2. Prepare a quantity of cement or mortar, by mixing a bag of dry cement with gravel following the manufacturer’s instructions. At this stage, if you want, you may add the pigmentation.
  3. Place the mold at the beginning of the walkway.
  4. Pour the liquid cement into the mold mortar carefully filling well every corner
  5. Wait about half an hour and then with a little trowel round toe, moistened with water, try to smooth the edges of each shape and flatten the surface. Allow to dry a bit (about 2-3 hours, depending on moisture of the air)
  6. When the concrete is a little solidified, but not completely dry, remove the mold and gently wipe the finish with the aid of a moistened spatula or wet brush. If you want to get a non-slippery surface, you can gently brush the surface creating a ‘sandpaper’ (using a dry brush).
  7. Place the mold in order to proceed to the next section, repeat steps 2 to 6 and continue so until completion of the work.

If you want to give an additional effect you can turn the mold 90 degrees to each section to avoid the repetition of identical boring design.

After finish, keep the entire walkway covered with a plastic sheet for about 2-3 days to prevent the rain wash away your work and direct sun dry it too quickly, creating cracks on the surface.

HOW TO CREATE A CURVE TO YOUR WALKWAY

If your design of the track provides one or more curves, you can proceed as follows.

After removed the mold of the straight section of the driveway, risposizionate the mold in the direction of the curve that you want to make and press down the mold to cut away the inside corner (in this case to be able to cut more easily it’s better to intervene before the concrete is too hardened).

Finish the edge of the cut shapes (as said before), then repeat the process as above and continue so. (In theory you might also make a circle with a bend of 360 ° to surround, for example, a fountain or an ornamental well or even just a flowerbed .

Once finished the work and after the concrete forms are duly dried, you have to pour over the entire surface a compound of sand and cement powder and stucco or, better yet a filler for joints exterior synthetic resin, doing so with the trowel to fill the joints still leaving a ¼ inch for water drainage and for aesthetics aspect.

HOW TO COLOR CONCRETE FOR YOUR ROCK GARDEN TRAIL

A further effect pleasant and personalized it’s certainly given by color. Indeed coloring helps to give more natural aspect to stones of concrete or fake bricks or effect ‘cooked’, adding charm to your work.

Although you can always paint later with a brush the shapes, stones or bricks, the best result is obtained by coloring the concrete itself.

We will not dwell too much on this point cause in the products readily available on the market the manufacturers provide adequate instructions on the procedure to be followed.

In any case, as an approximation, we say that for every 50 lb bag of concrete mix should about 8-10 oz of liquid dye previously dissolved in 5 qt of water. Once the dye added to the dough you must mix well until mixture is smooth, then add clean water to achieve desired consistency.

After filling the joints with filler material, as described above, pour in the joints some sand and mortar mixed with polymers to mimic the appearance of the stones or bricks handmade. Then wash with water without insisting too much on the joints to allow time to polymers to act.

Another effect that gives a rustic look you may obtain by pressing on the surface of the templates (when the mortar is still fresh), small pebbles, pebbles gravel or other (such as the so-called ‘Sandwash’ widely used around swimming pools).

 

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