How to lay a paver walkway

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

I just completed a project in our backyard that I’ve wanted to do since we moved in over a year ago. To get from the deck to the water hose requires walking through dirt and mud. We’ve wanted some type of pathway or stepping stones to keep our shoes from getting all muddy every time we go turn the hose on or off.

Because of all the tree overhang and shade, grass doesn’t grow very well in this area. It’s just dirt and mud. (Check out the awesome tire swing tutorial.)

Around the corner where the hose is is even worse. The faucet drips a bit when it’s turned on, and with all the dirt below it, the area is always muddy.

I spent about 4 hours one morning to create an awesome step-stone walkway. Check it out!

Not only is it functional, but it looks good too. Obviously it needs even more work in the future in the form of hedging lining the house, mulch, and even some ground cover, but for now, let’s just focus on how awesome the pavers look.

For the soupy wet water hose area I added lots of extra pea gravel to prevent the constant mud we had before.

I did all the work for this by myself, and I’m just so dang excited with how it turned out.

To create the stepping stone sidewalk I first headed to True Value Hardware for my supplies: 18″ square pavers, 60# bags of all purpose sand, and Flexible Downspout Extension. I also used a few supplies I already had on-hand: gravel, shovels, and a wheelbarrow.

The very first thing that needed to be done was taking care of the gutter extension. Before, water would pool at the house causing a muddy mess and potentially harming the foundation of the home.

I removed some of the dirt so the extension could be partially buried, added a bit of gravel for drainage, then laid the extension being careful to keep it at enough of an angle that water shouldn’t pool inside the extension or back up in the gutter.

After the gutter extension was in place I loosely laid out the pavers where I wanted them.

Now would be an excellent time to run some string to mark exactly where you want your pathway to go. It will give you a perfect line to follow. To do this, grab a few stakes and stake them into the ground. Tie the string to the stakes. Super easy and will make your job a whole lot easier. I did not do this. I waited until my path was looking very off-center and then realized I should have used the string and stakes, at which point I added them.

Once I knew where I wanted the pavers, I moved them all out of the way. Using a shovel I began removing some dirt to create a very flat, level base surface.

The previous owners of the house left a fairly large pile of gravel in the backyard so instead of buying more gravel for the project I just shoveled wheelbarrows full and repurposed it. Once I had the ground level I put down a layer of gravel.

After the base layer of gravel is set it’s time for sand. I’ve found the easiest way to deal with sand is by adding it to the wheelbarrow first and then shoveling it where you want to put it. To open sand bags just stab them with your shovel and tear the bag away. Works great!

The sand was added on top of the gravel and then smoothed out.

At this point the pavers were not lining up the way I’d hoped so I busted out the stakes and string:

See how much easier it is to get a perfect line by using a piece of string as a guide?

Once your sand is on top of your gravel, it’s time to put the pavers into place. Using the string as a guide, lay the pavers on top of your sand. It was fairly simple.

In addition to doing the straight pathway I also wanted the path to wrap around the house and stop at the water hose. For the area under the faucet, water hose, and downspout I added a bunch of extra gravel to help with drainage. Usually the faucet drips a little when you are using the hose and we end up with mud everywhere, but now the water drips into rocks instead.

And here’s the finished result of the pavers by the watering hose. I reused the gutter splash blocks I blogged about here. They work really well!

All in all, it took me about 4 hours to lay the entire pathway (not including driving to True Value to pick up all the supplies). It wasn’t a difficult project, but required a fair amount of hard labor (I was sore for a few days afterward!).

I really love how clean the lines are and how evenly spaced everything is. I am drawn to very straight, clean lines and this turned out exactly how I wanted it.

One of the last steps I did was to circle back to the drain extension and add a bunch more gravel. I also added a brick to help with erosion.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the new drain extension.

I placed the pavers away from the house as far as they are because we plan to add some box hedge along the house eventually. It will help with erosion around the house and will also look good.

That, my friends, was my adventure in path laying. I love how it turned out! It was hard work, but the end result is awesome. The backyard now looks slightly more polished (it still needs so much work) and our shoes don’t get a thick layer of mud on the bottom every time we turn the hose on or off.

A few Before and Afters (because everyone loves a good before & after!)




Click here to see all my previous True Value projects.


Build a tire swing!

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

I’ve teamed up with True Value today to show you how to make a fun and easy project that your kids (and you!) will enjoy all summer long… a tire swing!

We’ve had this old tire laying around the yard so instead of tossing it we decided it would be fun to turn it into a tire swing.

I’ve never made a tire swing before and the task seemed daunting. Believe it or not I whipped this tire swing up in less than an hour! I started with this very helpful tire swing guide:

Once I had a plan in place I headed to True Value to pick up all my supplies. Here are most of the supplies I purchased, but I did have to run back for a few more things (not pictured).

For the first step I flipped the tire over and made several small holes around the base so any water can drain out (after it rains). I don’t want a mosquito habitat hanging around (pun intended!).

After that I flipped it over and drilled three holes for the eye bolts. I used a standard drill bit and it easily cut through the rubber. Once the holes were drilled I prepped the bolts with the washer, lock washer, and nut.

Once the bolt was inserted into the tire hole I finished off the under side with another large flat washer, a locking washer, and a nut.

Here are the eye bolts after I installed them.

To hang the swing I wrapped a 4′ long chain around the tree branch, attached a locking swivel hook, attached three more chains to that, and then attached the chains to the tire swing. For each attachment I used a simple connector link.

You can buy all the pieces in many different sizes. I made sure each connector link, swivel hook, and chain were rated for multiple hundred pounds. If you make a swing make sure you buy pieces that can support your weight and won’t snap.

Our son jumped on and tried it out as soon as I was done hanging it. It worked perfectly. The swivel hook allows the tire swing to continue to spin around and around guaranteeing a nauseating experience only a child can appreciate. To say the kids are in love with this new swing is an understatement. It’s now the hit of the yard!

For even more fun summer activities and projects, visit True Value‘s project website or facebook page. They are always posting new projects.


Spring Cleaning: cleaning out the rain gutters

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

One big job I’ve wanted to tackle since moving in is cleaning out the rain gutters. For some reason, presumably leaves and debris, they overflow when it rains yet hardly any water actually exits the downspout.

I finally got up the energy and drug the ladder out to see what’s the deal with the gutters…

Holy guacamole, they were crammed to the hilt with copious amounts of leaves and sludge.

The previous owners apparently tried to remedy the leaves situation by installing some leaf guard mesh stuff. I’m sure at one point it worked great, but after years of rotting in the gutters, it had caved in on itself and leaves filled up on top of it – pretty much defeats the purpose of the leaf guard.

I grabbed a small shovel trowel (I totally had to google that. I’m obviously not a gardener!) and got to work digging the built up sludge. It was mainly leaves, but also a sludgy material on the bottom consisting of decomposing leaves, dirt, and lots of gravel-looking stuff that came off the shingles.

Once the bulk of the gross stuff was cleaned out I figured the best way to clean out the rest of the gunk was to just wash it out with the garden hose. It worked perfectly, probably considering the gutters were made for, well, water. Dur.

Enter True Value Hardware. I found all sorts of awesome goodies for rain gutters (am I the only person that geeks out over cool gadgets and gizmos for rain gutters? Yes? Thought so.) on their website and placed my order. (If you ship the items to your closest store and pick it up there they don’t charge you any shipping. Woot woot!)

I snagged a boat load of Snap-In Gutter Screens and several Decorative Splash Blocks.

My goal with the Gutter Screens is to block all leaves AND SQUIRRELS from getting in the gutters. Random side story: Ben’s grandma used to live in Arizona, and she was obsessed with squirrels. She said they didn’t have any where she lived. I used to laugh when she would come visit and flip out over squirrels because we have TOO MANY squirrels here and they are a nuisance. Squirrels and deer, oh my word.

The weather finally got nicer and the clouds parted and it was time to install the Gutter Screens. I was a tad naive in my excitement. I installed the first one and got a big ol’ womp-womp. They were too big.

Oops. I guess not all gutters are created equally. Should have measured before buying! Lesson learned.

Never one to take no for an answer, I decided to cut them to size. Seemed like a logical option.

Worked like a charm. It’s almost like it was meant to be. Except the edge looked terrible.

So I just tucked it under the lip of the gutter. To be perfectly honest, I like my way of installing them even better. They are suppose to sit on top of the gutter, but they seemed so floppy that way – like they might fall off, and tucking them under really wedges them in and makes them feel very secure.

After the first guard was installed and cut while in place, I wised up and realized it’s much easier to cut them before installing them. If you ever install these in your gutters, cut them first, then install.

Okay, so lets talk about the installation process. The Gutter Screens have a clip-like edge on one side that clips snugly around the flashing under the shingles.

What is flashing? I’m so glad you asked! Flashing is sheet metal installed at any break in a shingled roofline to prevent leaks. I found this nifty diagram that shows you exactly where your flashing is located.

Here’s a close-up of the Gutter Screen attached to the flashing under the shingles. It took a little maneuvering around the shingles to get the guards on, but once in place they fit like a glove.

The corners were a little bit more tricky, but honestly, they ended up being my favorite part of the installation because they broke up the monotony of installing guard after guard. I just cut the guard at a 45 degree angle (totally eye-balled it) and popped it in.

One side done…

And a perfect 90 degree angle right there folks.

Here they are, all installed and looking fly.

Is it weird that I get giddy-excited and proud when I look at the corners? Ya, it’s probably weird. Just pretend like I didn’t say that. Ahem. Oh, check out the Decorative Splash Block below the corner. I totally got both items in the same photo.

Speaking of the Splash Blocks, not only are they “decorative”, they also are functional and help direct water away from your foundation. Had the gutter down spouts not been totally clogged with gross leaves before I cleaned them all out, water would have been drowning our foundation which is apparently not good for it. I figured if I was going to clean out the gutters I better direct all the future rain away from the foundation a la these handy splash blocks.

I think we have some weeding in the not so distant future…

Are you ready for outdoor Spring Cleaning? How often do you clean out your gutters? Ever? This is the first house I’ve ever owned that had gutters, so this was a new experience for me. Hopefully the new gutter guards will keep all the gunk out of the gutters so I don’t have to clean them out again any time soon!

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