Making A Slate Path To Our Front Door

The front of our house continues to transform (goodbye scalloped porch, hello red door), and this weekend we worked up the energy to tackle the jacked up front walk.

Why? Because this is the jagged and trip-inducing path that we inherited with the house. Talk about an ankle sprain waiting to happen:

We like a rustic cottage-y path, but ours was narrow, wobbly and not quite the inviting introduction to our front door that we envisioned. Plus, the previous owner had a thing for ornamental grass and wooden borders that were seriously cramping our style.

So this weekend we dug it up to make way for a bigger and better version. Here’s what it looked like after several hours of lugging beams, relocating plants and moving slate.

Lucky for us, between the previous path and the rubble from last summer’s back patio makeover (see bottom of the Gallery page), we had a huge supply of slate tiles just waiting to be put to work. All we had to do was piece them together in a tighter, wider pattern and we’d have a new, more grand and wobble-free walkway, right?

Wrong. This turned out to be a weekend-long puzzle involving some very heavy pieces. 48 twenty pound pieces to be exact. Here’s our progress after 2 hours of lifting n’ shifting at the end of Day 1. And by “end” I mean the point of muscle exhaustion.

Pretty sad, huh? So we started Day 2 with some ibuprofen and a divide and conquer strategy. Sherry started fitting pieces together by the porch and I picked up where we left off near the driveway. Three long hours later we had almost met in the middle.

And finally, after about 4 hours (and a few dozen hand cramps) our 900 pound puzzle was complete.

Much improved, no? The amazing part was that we were able to create the clean-edged curve on the right side of the path without cutting the slate. We just happened to have enough slabs with straight and curved edges to make it work. And the subtle variation in color among the slabs was also a happy accident that makes the whole path look a little more like bluestone (or some other more expensive material) due to the fact that every piece isn’t a uniform dark charcoal color. Not bad for a $0 project.

Unfortunately, we can’t check this project off our list quite yet. We still need to dig in all the slate tiles so that they’re completely level. And once they’ve settled, we’ll plant grass seed in the cracks for a charming cottage look that will blend seamlessly into our front yard… just as soon as we regain full function of our limbs again.


  1. says

    Looks so much neater and polished! Having removed slate ourselves from our old yard (in order to lay down sod), I feel your pain (literally)!

    On a different note, I absolutely love what you’ve done with your home. Could you tell me which drum shade light from CB2 is the one that’s over your DR table? And does it come with a “ceiling disc” thing (for lack of a better word!) to cover the ceiling hole that it’s suspended from? It’s exactly the light fixture we’re looking for.


  2. Elizabeth says

    Bless your hearts! It looks wonderful!! I definitely feel your pain – We terraced our entire back yard with river boulders, backfilled with gravel, and stabilized an eroding bank with giant boulders. It was tough work, but we cheated by using a tree dolly to move the big rocks and a “money stick” (aka post hole digging stick) for leverage. The only accident involved rolling a 1300 lb boulder into our neighbor’s fence…We lovingly refer to that one as the “divorce rock”.

  3. KK says

    WOW! What a beautiful transformation!

    Now you can show off your “guns”.

    I’d consider ground covering green moss for the cracks since grass grows tall and you’ll need a weed eater to keep its height down.

  4. YoungHouseLove says

    Thanks, everyone. I’m glad we’re not the only ones crazy enough to break our backs over some decent landscaping.

    Freckles – you can read about the CB2 light here:

    It unfortunately doesn’t come with a ceiling cover. We just picked one up at Lowe’s for about $4 in a satin nickel finish. We highly recommend it so let us know if you decide to snag one.


  5. says

    Neat! I love the right side curve, befor I read about the coincidence I was wondering why you didn’t speak of the cutting-slabs torture.

    I’m not sure if you remember my email from a few months ago, but I have news. My boyfriend and I found a really pretty appartment, brand new, rental (we’re waiting to buy until we have some wedding plans and savings and we find the right place… but we just couldn’t wait to live together), and super-cheap (check my blog for the floorplan). I may send your way a decoratind dilema of my own… for now it’s empty, we don’t even have lamps, and “sadly” it’ll all be furnished at ikea… I just hope we can make it work!

  6. jamie says

    Is that monkey grass on the left…? If you give it about 6 months it will have filled in ALL that space. Forgive my cynicism, I’ve spent the last three weekends trying to eradicate that **stuff** from our yard.

  7. Kimberly says

    Love your path! And for free (not including cost of pain meds)! That smooth curve is amazing. I love the moss idea someone mentioned…I think moss is so cute. Though if your stones are dug in then you can just run your lawn mower over the path to get the tall grass. That’s what we do with the stepping stone path we laid and that works just fine. But moss=cute!

  8. YoungHouseLove says

    Yep, Jamie, that is some monkey grass that you see there. It has definitely already taken over parts of our yard. And digging up the entire monkey grass border to the right of the old path was no picnic. Those things have roots.

    And we did debate going the moss route, which is what the previous owner had done. Unfortunately, it too started to take over the lawn so we’re a little nervous about introducing any more. But you’re right KK, you can’t beat the look of it.

    Like Kimberly pointed out, we’re planning to dig the slate in enough so we can just mow right over it. Hopefully that’ll give us easy maintenance and a seamless look.

    Anyone want to help us dig in all that stone??


  9. Tanya says

    Hello! i just want to say I love your blog and look forward to your updates :) I am in the process of fixing up my mothers old ranch (she also has an affection for ornamental grass EVERYWHERE and wooden borders, eesh) and you guys have great eyes for style. Thanks for the inspiration! Keep it up!

  10. YoungHouseLove says

    Thanks guys! We’re slowly building up more steam to tackle the second half of the project and we’ll definitely keep you posted on the progress. Cross your fingers for some nice lush grass. Sometimes seeding this late in the season is hit or miss.


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