Concrete, Pavers, Brick??? Oh my!

IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)May 23, 2011

OK, I love the Ideas and advice I get from here, so many fresh eyes, and awesome ideas, I love you guys. So when I have a lip biting, hair pulling, face-palm problem, you can bet your sweet bum I am bringing it here.

well, here is my latest yard conflict. I have a small 3' wide, about 25' long "Porch" There were once boxwood in the empty spot with bright red mulch (What were the old owners into) So, in the fashion of "Waste not, want not" I saved the boxwood and moved them to the outer side of the sidewalk so when sitting in the chair, your not getting a boxwood pedicure. Also wanted to give the yard more of a soft flow as opposed to all the hard lines it had before. But that left me with a big empty spot that I was originally going to fill with concrete, but the more I look at it the more questions I have. I have a small budget, and with my husband in the Army and 3 kids ages 1-7 I need to be able to do this myself. I am not lazy, but not the hulk either. I cannot rip out the tiny sidewalk, But trying to make it look the best I can working with it. I have been looking into all the drainage, and so forth, so this is just aesthetically "What would look best"

1. Should I add brick in the dirt-grass area? Would that be brick over kill? Would it look like I just patched it in?

2. Should i fill with concrete and try to match it to the stuff thats already there?

3. Should I used pavers, will it look disjointed and out of place?

4. Is it going to be to much hard outside of my rancher?

5. will any said ideas hurt my future resale value?

All ideas are appreciated and respected. I Cannot get away with more plants and garden here, the area gets stomped all day everyday by kids, husband, soldiers, so tracking everything in the house sucks. Also trying to make it easy to get in the house without tiptoeing in a single file line due to they way to skinny path and porch.

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Would you consider using a skill saw with a diamond blade, or renting a concrete saw to cut that existing detached sidewalk into 4 sections the size of the score lines, and moving it next to your concrete porch? It isn't that hard to do, and you could leave a gap of about 4 inches for either ground cover like creeping thyme or Corsican mint, and effectively double the size of your porch while also making the entry walk more effective. I'd remove and relocate all 4 sections of the entry walk, including the one perpendicular to the porch, and starting at your driveway, lay them out with a 4 inch gap between each, and 4 inch gap between the new walk and the existing porch. If you don't like the idea of plantings, use brick inlay or something like Mexican black pebbles as a detail.

This would continue your thoughts of "waste not, want not", and might just be a good solution for you. I agree with you that a 3 foot wide entry walk isn't all that practical with so much traffic in and out, but reconfiguring this walk as a wider walkway with a new concrete pour without removing what you have will attract attention to the new versus the old. Adding brick or pavers in the area between the two existing patches of concrete also doesn't seem quite right visually. Just my 2 cents...

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 8:54PM
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Fill it with brown gravel. Add a long narrow rectangular shaped planter, maybe in concrete, that would take up about the middle third, placed lengthwise. Three square ones in a line spaced evenly would probably work too, and be easier to handle by yourself. Low growing plants; I would try to go for something that would look good year round.

And then get a larger door mat, so the guys can't miss it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:04PM
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I am so impressed with bahia's suggestion. I read this post yesterday and couldn't imagine a reasonable solution to the dilemma, but that sounds like it would look great and function really well. I like the idea of a the gaps with a ground cover that can take lots of traffic.

I personally wouldn't do any type of gravel or stone as filler. With 3 kids between the ages of 1-7 it would end up all over the place and be a pain to sweep back into place all the time (speaking as someone with 2 young kids and a narrow pea gravel strip between the cement in our driveway).

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 2:28AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Not really quite the same situation as your front porch and entry walk, but an example of sawcutting and relaying of an existing concrete walk here in California where I wanted to make the walk more interesting without spending a whole lot of money on new materials, when the existing walk was still in perfectly good condition. In this situation, it was more about creating interest in a very tight space, while still providing easy access to the sideyard gate. Check out some of the other paving solutions in this same garden in the rest of the set where I used precast concrete step pads(also already on-site) in combination with an existing concrete patio, and also saw cut some edges off the existing patio to change the shape and added some concrete seat walls and a wood bench as built-ins to save room and not clutter up the very small garden with a whole lot of furniture.

I agree that gravel would probably be a poor choice with young kids and high traffic. Stone inlay between the concrete or brick pavers can also be a useful device both pragmatic and visual; I was thinking more along the lines of 2 to 4 inch river stone set on edge and wedged tightly into the gaps, so that they wouldn't be loose. I've used this technique with a dry sand and mortar bed or wet mortar bed. In your part of the country perhaps a black mexican pebble wouldn't look right, but as your house is a ranch style and not traditional, maybe you'd be okay with that. I've set stone in gaps both ways, and it can stand up to heavy traffic if done correctly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sawcut concrete walk with gaps

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 3:16AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Or the reverse treatment, with concrete step pads as inset between your porch and existing walk and fill in the gaps with something green, in this case dwarf Mondo Grass, which would also work in Savannah. In your case, pavers that were more like 16 to 18 inch squares and doubled up would be a better scale than 12 inch, or maybe a single row of 24 inch square pavers if you can easily find them.

Here is a link that might be useful: pavers with planting between

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 3:28AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I can see the appeal of Bahia's suggestion and in an ideal world I might agree with it, but I think my preference would be to go with a paver solution, at least in the rectangular area. The quarter-circle part I might either plant up, or just fill in the angle of the sidewalk with a triangular stone.

I have several reasons for this preference. First, the traffic you describe can use the whole area, not just a wide porch. Second, I've handled and laid concrete of the sort you'd be working with, and slabs like this are both hard to handle because they're big, and hard to level because, being likely poured in place over gravel, the base is likely uneven. (My dad poured some paving stones like this and pebble-inlaid them, and we've saved them and re-used them several times). Third, I've also used a diamond blade, and it's dusty. Finally, you can always do the sawcut idea later when you have more help and older kids if you do pavers now and don't like them.

I would design the paver inset like a picture, though, taking a good deal of trouble with the design. I'd use a couple of different colours, shapes, or sizes of pavers, so it reads like a picture done inside the frame that your sidewalk makes. Measure the space carefully and select bricks in a size/repeat combination that fits exactly. This way it becomes a piece of art laid out at your entrance, and is unlikely to hurt either the aesthetics or the resale to any extent. And if someone doesn't like it, again, it's easy to replace with something else.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 12:47PM
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IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)

Thank you for the great ideas! Things I would never think of. I love the idea of cutting the walkway up and moving it. But honestly I do not have the skills, time, strength or money (Tool and or rentals) To pull this one off. Thank guys! Your wonderful!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 9:33AM
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I would pave everything inside that edging to be level with the porch and make an entry patio. Then make some benches from reclaimed wood (see for her pallet projects) and sit out there and enjoy it.

Concrete would be an easy fix, and pouring it in large squares to match the sidewalk shapes would make it possible to do in weekend chunks. You can't match the texture exactly, but it will be close and when it's covered with chairs and guests, no one notices.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 12:39PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

It looks to me as if the outer corner of the porch closest to the driveway (on the far left in the third photo) may be quite a bit higher than the walkway. IRuehl, before you make definite plans you may want to use a level to check how much of a height difference there is. If it's too bad, that may affect what you decide to do. You don't want anyone to trip.

If you don't own a level (I don't), maybe one of the neighbors has one. You'll also need a (non-bending) piece of wood (or whatever) that's longer than the distance from the front edge of the porch to the walkway.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 4:38PM
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The only person I have ever seen walk straight and then turn 90 degrees is Charlie Chaplin so I would dig up that concrete walkway designed for him. After that the options open up.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 7:52PM
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IRuehl(8b-9a, Savannah GA)

^^^^ OMG LOL!!!! But yeah, I gotta do something. Its level and has a slight slope for drainage.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 8:34PM
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