Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garden Path Redux

[UPDATE: click here for the final garden path update.]
 
Sooo. Y'all seem to love the Garden Path


All time most viewed, and most featured. (Even contacted about a magazine feature, but alas, I live in the wrong region.)

Also, the source of a thousand and one questions. So, here it is: the complete, honest update.

I knew the wood would weather. Usually weathered wood is pretty. But before spring had completely sprung, I knew I was no longer in love with my path.

So sad.

A LOT of people asked about using polyurathane so that the disks would not rot. Well, they did not rot. If this was a more shaded and protected area, they might have even weathered nicely. But there were absolutely no rotting issues. There was just an ugly issue.

I decided to fix it, we would cut new disks and coat them, but I wanted something that was environmentally sound. The EPA recommended Shellac, and being natural, it seemed like a good idea. I've shellacked things before, so I knew the product.

I just brushed one side, waited an hour, flipped it over and painted that side. Time consuming, but easy.

I only did one coat, so I guess time will tell as to any regrets on that choice.

We also made these a bit thicker. The last ones were about 1-3 inches. I had talked last time about how they sometimes pop up when you walk on them, and some of the disks broke during the year, so we figured thicker might help. These new ones average 4-5 inches.


One major headache the first time was our darn hard clay. It was hard to scratch out the space to set the disks and then pack them in. I loved the rich dark soil color against the wood, but it did not hold them as it should. Many people wondered about using sand.

So we tried it. First we tilled the soil to make it as loose as possible and then we added a bit of sand and worked that in.

It was much easier to get the disks set in this time. I still don't love the color of the sand, but we planted ground cover, so hopefully that won't be much noticed soon.


Of course, last time the ground cover didn't grow in, so who knows? Maybe I'll just have to grow to love sand.

Another question I was asked A LOT was whether or not the wood was slippery when wet. Um, no. It's not like the disks are a smooth surface of wood. They are broken up with gaps in between and also not sanded or anything. They are smooth enough to walk barefoot on them, but no, they have never been slippery. Of course, the entire set up does not induce one to walk quickly in the first place. And, no, they are not slippery now that they have been sealed either.

I loved how the first path looked, so when I went and checked it last spring I was heartbroken at how it appeared. I was determined to fix it, and so we did. I am in love with it once again. I am pleased to say that the disks are not popping up at all. They are very solidly set in the sand, even after a pretty decent rain.

And, as always, I'll keep you posted about how this version weathers.

And, hey, firewood for the fire pit, so that's not so bad.

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18 comments:

  1. Your wooden disc path was one of my first pins. We're building a log guest cabin on our property now and plan to use your idea for the walk between our house and cabin. Our business is restoring older log cabins and homes. The graying that happened is from UV damage. The shellac won't be much more helpful in preventing that as it has no pigment in it. pigment is the deterrent for graying. For an environmentally friendly stain (that still looks natural) you might consider looking at www.sansin.com Their DEC stains come in natural and translucent but still provide the needed pigment to prevent the graying. no, I'm not a salesman, just love their product! (and your blog!) LaVonne Pinkston, OKlahoma

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    1. Interesting. I knew it was UV damage, but I did think the shellac would provide some protection. Thanks for the info and the tip. I'll be sure to check that out.

      BTW, I'm so excited to know that I inspired your path. Sounds amazing to have a guest cabin.

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  2. I noticed! And got to eat yummy shortcake after watering your garden on the path :)

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  3. I love your wooden path! Looks great! Liz

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  4. Your new wood path looks great and I hope it stays that way!

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  5. Thanks! I hope it stays too! So far so good. :)

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  6. i wonder what would happen if you set them in a concrete sidewalk?

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    1. Interesting idea, but I don't know that they would set well. The wood would absorb the moisture that the concrete was giving off as it hardened. Then the wood would potentially pop right out. When they add details or numbers to concrete, they usually use wood forms and just knock them right out.

      The sand is working really well. Even after several rainstorms. I just need to address the color.

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  7. hi, i know they sell black sand, just dont know where to get it fyi..love the look. i just bought some raw land and am hand building my own home,well, ect. im goin to use this idea for a long walway to my pond. thanks it looks fantastic!!

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  8. So I love this, and this is the first place where there is any semblance of instructions on how to make it work. I have a seen it in a few different pictures/magazines and have been working 1/2 the summer to get the walnut slices I have in my back yard fairly uniform in depth for a patio and walkway. Did the Shellac just soak in? I wonder if you put tongue oil on it before the shellac if it would preserve the color.

    I am going to prepare the area as though I was installing brick and set the slices as best I can to make them level.

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    1. Thanks. I know what you mean about seeing it around with few details. Actually, lots of those magazine shots turn out to be from home and garden shows where they didn't really have to make it work, just faked it for the show! At least the ones I have seen.

      I guess the Shellac mostly soaked in. It didn't look that way when we made it, but even at the time I questioned my judgement on only using one coat. LaVonne was right about the Shellac not helping with UV damage. The discs are holding up very well, and weathering more slowly, but they are weathering. I think the tongue oil would be worth trying. Or a decking sealant that is supposed to protect against UV damage. Since this is in my vegetable garden I was willing to take weathered wood over possible leeching from products. But if this way away from things I planned to eat, I might try a decking sealant.

      It sounds like you have a good plan in place. Good luck!

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  9. The pathway is beautiful. I live in the city and we just lost our maple that canopied the back yard. I'm considering this for between my new sunny gardens. Has anyone ever tried PENTACRYL?

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  10. My development cut down several trees a few yrs ago that I planned on using the same trick but for inside my home. Unfortunately, the wood has weathered too much so I am ecstatic to see ur idea, but my Hubby is wondering HOW & w/ what kind of saw were u able to make the uniform cuts. Please, please! Let me know cuz I really would like to use ur idea & do it DIY. Please email ur answers so I don't miss them. Thank you SO much!!
    Wendy, crowebabe19@yahoo.com also plz let me know of any updates u have made on the project, it would save us so much time.

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    1. Hi Wendy, we actually just used a regular 14" electric chain saw. Honestly, it's just a cheap little chain saw. The uniformity came from practice and also making sure the logs were secure when we cut so they didn't bounce around or kick back. What we did is perhaps not the safest way, so I'm not necessarily going to recommend it, but I'll tell you how we did that. We set the log in so it was raised, but in between two logs so it wouldn't roll and then laid another log perpendicular on the top so it had weight to hold it down. Actual saw horses and clamps might have been safer.

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  11. If you are interested in getting this look indoors, there's a company that sells the product. You can learn more here: http://kaswell.com/woodblock/mesquite_rounds.htm. You might look at their specifications page for more information if you are interested in trying to do it yourself. (not affiliated with them at all, but like their floors)

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  12. Awesome, I'm inspired to do the same. How did your new technique hold up over the winter. Trying to learn as much as I can before we start this project.

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  13. They were selling some at Home Depot years ago that looked like wood and they held up nicely. What I love about this post is the honesty! Usually you just see the just completed success stories with no follow-up. Hope the groundcover makes it and if not maybe crushed granite? Can put it right over the sand.

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  14. Just a thought, now that they are firmly set in sand and managing to stay in place, couldn't you add top soil above the sand to give it that dark look you liked so much as well as it would give the ground cover plants something to take root in?

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Your turn! What's on your mind?