A guest post by Ryan.
Shortly after Maggie and I built the garden beds in our back yard, we knew we needed to do something about the space in-between the beds, a patch of dirt that was about 2 feet by 3 feet. Our first thought was the lay a little brick path, but between the springtime rain and other household projects to distract us, it wasn't until recently that I got around to starting on the project. In this older picture, you can see where the mud and weeds had free reign between the beds:
Armed with measurements and a rough idea of what we wanted, I was off to Home Depot. The first thing to pick up was sand. There were two types of sand that I purchased, a rougher gravel-sand mixture that would work well for leveling the ground surface, and a fine grain sand to fill in the cracks after the bricks were in the ground. When it came to paving stones, I managed to find some smaller bricks (3x6" instead of the usual 4x8") that would allow for a bit more creativity when coming up with a pattern to lay them in our small space.
Once I had the supplies home and unloaded, the next step was preparing the site. Since I wanted the bricks to be roughly level with the ground, I needed to dig down a few inches and remove some of the soil that was already there. Next, the first layer of sand was laid down. This was the trickiest part of the process, since I needed to make sure that none of the bricks would be sitting below the bottom of the raised beds or above the adjacent grass, all while keeping the bricks even with each other to ensure a smooth surface. After the sand was down I spent some time playing with the bricks, seeing which patterns would fit nicely in the space.
In the end, we decided on the above pattern. With bricks running along the sides, one repetition took up about 2 square feet. Since there we had 6 square feet to work with, this would allow us to repeat the pattern 3 times. Once I had a pattern to work with, I started in on laying the bricks. I didn't have any of the speciality tools to level the ground surface, so I had to spend a little bit of time with each brick to ensure it fit in with it's neighbors. After all the bricks were laid, I took a step back to see if there were any points that sat lower than expected. A few final adjustments and all that was left was the finishing layer of sand.
After pouring the sand to fill in the cracks, I spent a few minutes sweeping the sand around to better fill the cracks and eventually cleaning off the surface of the bricks. The next day I looked to see where things had settled and if there were any spots that still needed more sand. Overall I'm quite happy with how the project turned out. Since the sun has been hiding from us in Seattle most of this spring and early summer, it was nice to get a chance to spend an afternoon outside working in the garden. Now that it's finished, I think it gives our garden a little more polished look too. What outdoor projects do you have waiting on your to-do list?