Sunday, June 21, 2015

Garden Project - Creating a path with wood chips


The project today is to keep adding to the bark pathway in my vegetable garden using colored bark that you can usually get on sale during a major holiday. I got mine at Lowe's over Memorial Day weekend when they were selling 5 bags for $10. That is a crazy good price so I bought 10 bags. I haven't had much time to work on this since then so I was happy when I finally did get time. The thing with any project is that the work to put down the bark is minimal, what takes time is the preparation. In this case, I had a badly sloped area that lead down to the main trees. I had just part of a step built so I needed to first finish that chore. Last weekend I left with it looking like this;
Step in progress
I like to use as much recycled or left-over stuff that I can, so this step is kind of awkward in that it is short one large block. These blocks were left-over after building the retaining wall so that is all I have left. I used a smaller brick to the right of the tip large one and filled it in with dirt. Still the slope was pretty bad, so now I started filling in with the natural building material that I have in abundance here, rocks! Building with rocks is like a puzzle, you have to have all sizes and shapes and then start fitting them into the outline so that they lock together.
The board shows where I want the dirt level to be when I am finished

You can see some of the rocks being filled in

Pretty much done! See how they lock together?

Done and now I can level the dirt behind that board
 The thing with the rock step is that you have to be able to walk on it, I know that sounds like an obvious thing, but if I had just started piling up rocks, one step and they would all slide out. So this is about form and function and it can take a long time to get them right. This took me several hours to get to the point where I could start leveling behind the board.
What is the point of leveling and building this step? Pretty easy to explain.. if I had just gone ahead and put the landscape fabric down and then poured on the wood chips, the first rain that came would wash them down the hill. You need a small slope for drainage but that was too big of a difference so I had to fix it.
Next I went around and brought in wheelbarrows of dirt to start the leveling.. another abundant material I have is dirt! Once again it is free except for the labor!
Dirt coming in!

Keep adding it and raking it bring it up

The rest of the area leading to the step - everything is level with a slight slope for drainage

All pretty much smoothed out
Here is the "easy" part... laying out the landscape fabric and then putting the bark on the fabric. Some people use landscape pins to hold the fabric but I don't see the point in that.. I use temporary things like rocks or tools to hold it down while I position it. You will need to have scissors to cut it and make sure you put the right side down.
I start with the section that runs straight down the middle and move off of that for the next piece.

Notice the tools holding down
3 sections are down and cut to fit over any faucets or poles in the dirt
I overlap the fabric which is wasteful I admit. But this stuff is hard to cut especially with this large of an area and really, it is cheap to buy. Plus, overlapping doesn't hurt because it will have more protection to keep weed seeds under the cloth from sprouting.

Bring in the bags of mulch!
 Start spreading from the far side corner and work your way across.. I use a rock rake to move the bark but you have to be careful. I have gotten a little too excited about almost being done and tore the fabric with the rake tines.
One row done
How deep you put the mulch will obviously, determine how far the material will go. I have a about a 6 foot wide area by about 20 feet long. I used all 10 bags for that area because I wanted the mulch to be pretty deep.

Look how pretty all the rocks look when they are cleaned off - notice the bark is level with the board now.
Now I have a path that goes around what will be the main garden bed, if we ever get rain. The next part will be to extend it to the steps that lead into the yard area. This took me about 8 hours of work.. with the bulk of it spent on building the steps. If you don't have to do that, you need to spend time on leveling and cleaning the dirt. It shouldn't be more than a couple of hours if you don't have a bad slope.
Here is the view from my deck looking down on the yard.. oh and see that small, dark area to the right? Yep.. a gopher moved in overnight and is digging a burrow. Dang it!
Pathway around my garden bed, propane tank and asparagus bed.

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