Tag Archives: diy

Creating forms and pouring cement for our new walkway

This past weekend we got a new walkway! Our guests would previously have to make there way through our parked cars on the driveway to reach our front door. My parents came down to visit and my father, who is a contractor, helped us put in a new walkway.

I had no idea that there are so many steps to creating a walkway. Thus I broke it down into two posts. This one will document the prep work.

Weeks (months?) ago my husband spent the bulk of a very hot morning digging out most of a path for a walkway. Still though when it came down to it there was more to be dug and because he dug so deep and it is only supposed to be 4″ deep, there was also a bit to fill in.

1. We started by putting the forms where we thought they would look nice. We wanted a nice wide walkway that two people could walk on side by side.    iphone10-30-2013 055

2. Next we needed to make the walkway level from the sidewalk currently leading to the house and to the street. (the string is that line.  We also wanted to take into account the slope of the driveway as to not make either look odd.  iphone10-30-2013 060 iphone10-30-2013 061

3. With that line out as a guide, we staked in one side of the form and then used a board a top both of them with a level to make sure that the form was level on both sides (or slanted if you’d rather water run off one side, as long as it is consistant. iphone10-30-2013 062 iphone10-30-2013 063 iphone10-30-2013 064 iphone10-30-2013 065

4. As you might notice from the picture above there is quite a bit of dirt under the form. So our next step was to fill back in the dirt. We did so leveling as we went and measuring so that it was around 4″ deep the whole way.iphone10-30-2013 066

5. Once that was complete and it was all level the prep work was done. We sprayed it off with a hose a few times to help it compact on itself and then tried to find cement.iphone10-30-2013 067

6. We had difficulty finding a yard of cement and we ended up paying a bit more and getting it from a truck. That was much easier, but  because of the difficulty it ended up coming really late in the day.  Here it is starting to be poured in the form. iphone10-30-2013 078  

7. As the cement came out, Michael with the help of our dads tried to fill the form evenly with shovels. iphone10-30-2013 080

8. After the cement was all out they scraped the top with a 2″ x 4″ to even it out. iphone10-30-2013 084  

9. Then they filled in the low spots with extra cement. iphone10-30-2013 086

10. The next step is to tamp down those rocks. It  previously looked really bumpy and this process made it start to look smooth and settled. iphone10-30-2013 088

11. Then my dad went over it with what appears to be a large cement trowel. It made it really even and it started to look finished. iphone10-30-2013 090 12. At this point they measured half way down the side walk and put a break. Using a board as a guide, they used the tool to create a divot in the cement. iphone10-30-2013 092  

12. They then used another hand tool to finish the outer edges of the cement. I did this process as well and it required firm slightly angled pressure. iphone10-30-2013 094

Our son became really excited as well because he also got to help with this step. iphone10-30-2013 099   iphone10-30-2013 102

13. Because we got such a late start pouring cement we were working into the night. This isn’t a great picture, but at the end it gets smoothed out again and then my husband added brush strokes in for texture. iphone10-30-2013 103

We waited a day before finally running on it. iphone10-30-2013 108

Kill your lawn or death by asphyxiation

Congratulation! You’ve decided to kill your lawn. For those in San Diego county there is a turf replacement program that actually pays you to remove your lawn. There are many different ways to do this ranging in time and cost involved. Here is a breakdown of the different ways and what we went with.

Solarizing the lawn (what we are using)

This is the easy way to go on your back, but it takes at least a month. We have been living with a front yard with plastic sheeting for two months since we started in the winter. We keep promising our friends and neighbors that it will look better eventually.

  1. Mow your lawn first.
  2. Water your lawn (for us it was winter and so we did it after a rain storm).
  3. Buy black plastic sheeting and lay it out (overlaping by at least a foot where needed). We placed rocks and wood down to keep it from blowing. The sheeting was about $10 each. We are using 3, but probably could have used 4.
  4. Let the sun bake the seeds (our lawn was mostly weeds) and grass killing the root system. This will take a minimum of six weeks, but possibly longer if it isn’t sunny or warm out. Just keep checking under periodically
Kill your lawn with black plastic sheeting
We decided to kill our lawn with black plastic sheeting

Shovel it out

When we removed the parking strip from our first house we picked this method and even though the section was small, it took three people and was exhausting. It did get done removed in a day though so it might be the best option with those short on time. Unfortunately the topsoil is tossed out with the lawn and roots so you will want to amend before you plant.

  1. water lawn (not a requirement, but having it moist but not saturated helps the shovel penetrate easier).
  2. Work in sections removing the lawn with a spade shovel making sure to get all of the roots. Another option is to rent a machine much like a lawn mower that removes the lawn in sheets.
  3. Dispose of in a compost pile with roots to the sky or in yard cans.

Please note that using a rototill will not kill the lawn, and if you plant after you rototill it might make it more difficult to remove in the furture when the lawn is then mixed with new plants.

Compost your lawn with mulch

After we already started killing our lawn with the plastic sheeting I started reading Larry Hodgson’s book, Making the Most of Shade: How to Plan, Plant, and Grow a Fabulous Garden that Lightens up the Shadows. In this book he stated mulching as the preferred method of killing your lawn. The benefits being that it looks decent during the transformation and the lawn ends up becoming compost to enrich your soil as an added benefit.

  1. Save up a bunch of newspaper or cardboard and lay 4-6 layers overlapping covering the entire surface of your lawn.
  2. On top of the paper add four inches of much. This can be found at home improvement stores at around $5/bag, but a much more economical option is to get it by the truckload if you have access to a truck from a nursery. I know in San Diego County, you can get free mulch at the local dump. I have heard though that sometimes there are nails in it so check that our first if you have small kids or pets. What you save in cost could end up being an expensive trip to the emergency vet. I know this from experience. Once, our dog buster stepped on a galvanized nail and it went through his paw. Ouch.
  3. Keep the much moist, but not wet. Watering with a hose 1-2 times a week.
  4. In a few months you will be able to plant directly in the much with little or no extra prep. Did I mention that I wish we went this route?

Better living through chemistry – Kill it with poison

We used round up on some outlying areas, but I have to admit that I am uncomfortable with the stuff and using it in large quantities. Plus, I think that it would take quite a bit of the stuff to kill an entire lawn. If you do decide on this do one round and then wait a week and go back again to make sure that all of the lawn has been killed.

I have heard of people who use vinegar on their lawn to kill it. This may be worth trying on a small section of lawn and then wait a few days.