Broken stone/cinder block path??

beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)August 11, 2011

Hi All,

I've been reading posts and getting inspiration for awhile now. I can't believe how creative you folks are! My post is really a question more than anything, and looking for support in an idea I have about making a pathway. I apologize if it's a bit on the long side. I also hope this is the correct forum for such a question.

I want to make a pathway about 15 feet long and refuse to spend any money on it. My husband wants to buy the patio stones and make it what he thinks is pretty and perfect and straight. We have access to a large amount of broken cinder blocks and patio blocks, and I want to make use of them for the path using whatever flat sides are available (breaking off the edges if necessary), and maybe mach up close sizes, or do a design of some sort with larger then smaller, or whatever. He thinks it would look terrible with individual pieces having one or two straight edges, and the rest all uneven and broken. If I plan a design and plant moss in between I think the rough edges will eventually disappear, and in my mind's eye it is already beautiful.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on my idea for the path, how you think it might look when done, has anyone done something like this before? I just hate seeing a free resource go to waste! Has anyone done anything with broken cinder blocks/patio blocks besides paths? I'd love to hear about your projects!

I'm recovering from back surgery and cannot do anything myself just yet, but hope to get this done in the spring when I'm stronger. It's my idea, and my path, so I want to do it myself, not have my husband do it for me, especially if he hates the idea he's not as likely to come up with a pleasing overall look and we'd most likely just argue over what goes where. And the chances of him buying stones, lugging them home, getting stone dust as underlay, and getting this done before winter is pretty slim so I still have hope for my idea coming to fruition.

BTW-before posting I did a search for "cinder blocks" in Garden Web and came across an old compiled thread with gardening pet peeves. I kept laughing at the posts that said they hated "garden art" and thought that if you asked the same question here you'd get much different answers. My personal pet peeve is someone thinking they know better than me what looks good in my garden. To each his/her own!

Thanks for listening, and for any suggestions.


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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

It's a great idea and would be a special path compared to just buying the stone. If you have enough that match run those down the middle and use the irregular ones to fill in around. That should keep it from looking jumbled.

You could stain or paint a few with products made for concrete. Add a few mosaic pieces, some bricks and misc. stones to make it special.

I use cinder blocks for raised planting beds.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 9:26PM
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I'm happy to hear your recovering well from your surgery. I say go for it! When I was working on my patio I had a couple of women at work who said their husbands were working on theirs as well. Mines finished.... Not only is your plan more economical it's also ecological. You're saving the old pavers from the dump and creating less demand on the resources required to make new ones. I think it'll be more interesting visually and more forgiving. If the new pavers aren't exactly straight or exactly level it'll be much more noticeable. I had mostly intact pavers for my patio. The broken ones I used at the edges, it helps it blend into the grass line. Have you looked up broken concrete? Not exactly what you want to do but could give you some ideas. Here's a blog I found when I was looking for ideas. I think her patio is lovely. Good luck and be sure to keep us updated!

Here is a link that might be useful: Broken concrete patio

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 10:55PM
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Some years ago, at our old house, the church next door was tearing up all their sidewalks for a new foundation. My wife begged a punch of broken concrete sidewalk pieces, having seen them made into walks after the LA earthquake. What this has to do with your situation is that they looked fine. Mostly irregular edges and such. The few straight edges lose their straight appearance next to the adjacent irregular. Or you can just knock off a corner. You will be surprised how you can just kind of pick up the next random piece and find a good place for it against the last ones laid. I just brushed dry concrete readymix into the spaces and kept it wet with the sprinkler for a few hours while it set. At night, it kind of glowed. In the day, it looked a bit like a limestone path. Lay and pack a thick bed of sand first so you can more easily level the pieces.

I would do it again. However, I would not do it with four and five inch thick slabs. It was nearly the end of a hand truck and my back moving them.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 11:39PM
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beatrice_outdoors(6a MA)

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. I feel validated in my idea, and am happy to see I'm hardly the first to find this a good way to go. Searching for "broken concrete" instead of "broken cinder block" retrieves so many more hits! I found a number of very helpful threads just now.

iamnotapirate-the link is awesome and provides fantastic help from one who has "been there, done that."

rock_oak_deer-you have me thinking about a new design look, adding brick and other smaller stones.

Gerald-you have opened my eyes to sand instead of stone dust, which is what we have always used in the past because our projects were all flat bottomed. I'll be watching craigslist and freecycle for sand now!!

In my area we h ave to pay to discard stone and concrete, so a lot of folks have piles in their yards, just waiting to become my new pathway!! I have to wait until next spring when I am strong enough to do this, but am giddy with excitement at planning and collecting pieces over the winter to get ready. If I can figure out this picture thing I'll post some when I'm done.

I really appreciate your help!!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:22PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

You can get a lot of materials off craigslist especially if it's expensive to dump them. Some contractors might even drop off stuff if it saves them time and money.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 5:48PM
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Good luck, Beatrice! I think it is such a great way to recycle & looks so rustic & serves a good purpose! Jeanne S.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:32PM
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