March 27, 2013

Steps in the Grass

I think I need to do something with this area between two garden beds.

Right now a wiggle of grass separates the two beds, but instead of it looking like a path through the plants, the strip of lawn looks like a barrier separating two spaces.

How about if I get some irregular flagstones and set them randomly in the grass?

Here is a very structured idea of what I want to do. This was an installation at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which by its nature looks quite small and artificial, but it demonstrates the idea.

And here are stone steps in the grass that look more natural. This is the lawn in front of the main house at the ranch we visit in Wyoming. These steps in the grass have been here for decades and get plenty of wear as hungry dudes come from the corral to the dining hall each day.

The steps here do not separate garden beds, but again it demonstrates the look I want -- a casual winding ribbon that flows into and out of the surrounding lawn.

Steps need to lead you somewhere -- in my case the end would be the bridge that crosses the dry creek bed.

I don't want anything too artificial like a laid bluestone walk, or too bare like a path of mulch. Jim would still have to mow over steps set into turf. I thought about removing all the grass and planting thyme or another steppable ground cover between the stones, but I keep going back to the pictures of steps scattered in grass and I like it.

It looks like a job we could do ourselves, just by cutting out the shapes of the stones, putting some leveling sand in the cut-out and dropping the stone in -- seems very doable. You will need to remind me of that when I post a Garden Oops lamenting this project gone wrong.

I need to think on this a little more.

36 comments:

  1. I like it!!! I like it a lot!!! There is something very simple and subtle about it. It would look beautiful in your strip that divides and I imagine easy to maintain. Not like mine where mulch surrounds it and weeds grow. I much prefer your option!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicole, Thanks, that's what I needed, some encouragement for my plans : )

      Delete
  2. Laurrie, you know what I'd vote for, but I'll say it anyway: Stone. Stone dug in randomly in the grass. If this is not what you wind up doing, then you don't like that fine Wyoming path as much as I think you do. Go get stoned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee, Although I like the stone path in front of the ranch house in Wyoming, what I really long for is a place in my own garden where a hot country breakfast is served me, the dishes are done by the hashers, and my horse is saddled and ready for me each morning. That's what I really want. At the end of a stone path in my garden.

      Delete
  3. I'm sure you could do the project, Laurrie, but I have to say I love your "wiggle of grass" the way it is - not broken up, but a lovely, sinuous curve of green, almost sculptural.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lyn, I agree that the wiggle of green grass looks nice in the photo, but a wider view of the whole yard makes the several beds look isolated by strips of grass. I couldn't capture that really in a photo. Thanks for your confidence that we could do this project!

      Delete
  4. Hi Laurrie....I really like the look of the grass but I think the stones will look nice too. I've always liked stepping stones. I have them in my large back bed and they are surrounded by pea gravel. I have put stepping stones in existing grass and you are exactly right on how to do it. Put the stone down, and with a sharp knife outline it. Then pull out that grass, level, put the stone back and "Bob's you uncle"!! I KNOW you can do it and there won't be any Garden Opps!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christy, you make it sound easy, and I think it should be. Bob's my uncle if we can't do this : )

      Delete
  5. I like the stone dug randomly into the lawn. I am sure you could do it but it will not be a easy as you might think. A good project for this spring. I don't think you will be voicing an oops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa, I'm glad you like the look of the stones in the grass -- I do think it will look nice. Just hope the stones aren't too heavy to move around by hand.

      Delete
  6. Another possibility would be to narrow the grass path. I think that would make it look more clearly like a path. Plus, it would be an excuse to buy more plants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jason, the garden on the right is fairly newly planted, and a lot of the stuff is going to extend over the edges, so it will narrow the area. But I do like the idea of getting more plants!

      Delete
  7. I have a very similar situation and have been considering laying either stone or pavers in a series of large elongated diamond shapes moving into the distance. With flagstones I would keep the outside edges even to create the diamond shape... with pavers I probably would dispense with grass between them entirely... haven't gotten around to this yet but it is important to consider since my tractor and other power equipment are tough on the grass only situation. Larry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Larry, you have so many great hardscape elements in your garden. I'll be interested to see if you tackle what you are describing, and how it comes out.

      Delete
  8. Laurrie, I like the idea of native CT stone in the grass, set low enough so the grass can be mowed. That way the stone is not visible from all over the garden and it's a nice surprise to stumble upon it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, that's exactly the idea- with the stones set low in the grass the path is not a separate design element, seen from all views. Instead, it is just a way of tying areas together and you won't see it until you are there.

      Delete
  9. I think the stone path would be beautiful! But it also looks like a lot of work...can't wait to see the results and what you thought of doing it yourself.

    I just visited Jennifer's blog, and I'm so glad I did--I had missed your essay there. So beautifully written and touching; thank you so much for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose, I have such great ideas for stonework, but I am timid about actually being able to do any of it. I'll just have to try! I'm glad you found the essay at Jennifer's -- thanks.

      Delete
  10. Looks to me like you have a new project. Native CT flat fieldstone leading to the bridge will be perfect in this setting. What will be the next focal point beyond the bridge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joene, beyond the bridge the untended meadow starts. There are paths that Jim nows through the tall weeds, so when you cross the bridge there are mysterious paths to choose to go down.

      Delete
  11. Natural stone is one of my favorite garden accents. Fieldstone set in the grass is a great look. Even though it is a DIY project, in that large of an area it will definitely be quite a bit of work. Worth it though to get the look you want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, I do think it will be a big project, and I really want to make sure I get good sized flagstones, not just a lot of little ones. That's going to make it a harder!

      Delete
  12. I've started doing something similar to this, except with concrete blocks. Never finished it - and it got put on the bottom of the need-to-get-done list. (Maybe this year, maybe next.) But - I say go for it! I think the determining factor is time, because each stone has to be laid by hand, and a lot of stone will be needed to get the right look. Also, if your soil is as hard as mine, I've found right after a rain is the perfect time to dig up the soil. Good luck! I think you'll be VERY happy with it when it's done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HolleyGarden, that's the key -- each stone needs to be laid by hand. Yikes. It does seem like a lot of work, but everyone has been so encouraging about it.

      Delete
  13. Found your wonderful blog after ready your beautiful essay at Jennifer's blog...I am sure i will be back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, thanks so much, and welcome here!

      Delete
  14. I like it! I like it! I think you're smart to stick with the grass because it's easy to mow and can take foot traffic. But you could also plant mini mondo grass. (The Latin name starts with an O.) I'd use a combo of different sized stones for visual interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tammy, I definitely want different sized stones, I agree that variation will be the key to a natural look. I just hope I can handle the really large ones. I'm glad you like the idea.

      Delete
  15. I love stone paths, you just can't go wrong! Recently I keep seeing log paths around too, they won't last as long but they certainly do catch your eye. Have you seen them? Here is a link to a photo of one from the Grows On You community and there is a bit of a how to in the comments http://www.growsonyou.com/photo/slideshow/106323-log-path-at-shrewsbury-flower-show/all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, I have seen those kinds of log paths on pinterest, and they are a beautiful look. Thanks for the link! I do think they would deteriorate quickly in our wet winters, unless you could get really hard wood to make them. But they are striking.

      Delete
  16. Laurrie, I love the steps but I think they do the mowing more difficult. The grass will grow between the steps and you'll need to cut it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nadezda, we will definitely need to mow the area with the steps in it. The trick will be to get the stones laid at the right height to do that easily.

      Delete
  17. I was thinking of doing something similar in my yard, so I'm glad you wrote this. Would you really have to dig out a space for each stone and put leveling sand in? I was thinking I could just plop it down, press it in, and I'd be good to go. I guess not!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, ha! Plop and press is not going to work! Like all things in the garden, it has to be done the hard way, with maximum dirt and major sweat involved. : )

      Delete
  18. I like the idea of stones as opposed to a groundcover, stones will actually make it clear this is a path. Those ranch stones are a great idea to follow. I do wonder, like some others, about the rock shifting and therefore mowability. You definitely don't want to ruin a mower blade by hitting a stone. Obviously you've already thought about how to set them in but maybe make sure the rock is good and flat so there's no edges to catch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marguerite, you are right --- the key is to get these set at the right level. If too deep, the grass will overtake them, but if too high the mower will hit the edges of the stones. Each one needs to be hand laid with care!

      Delete

Sorry about requiring code verification -- I experimented with turning it off to make commenting easier, and I got too much spam. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to type in silly codes. I appreciate hearing from you.