A garden is the best alternative therapy.

***UPDATE** Please visit my new post for updated progress on this project

We have wanted to do something with the backyard now for quite some time.  The garden boxes are nice and all, but we really wanted to create a butterfly garden and a little place to sit and relax.  I’ve never done any landscaping before, but I thought I’d try a small landscaping project to make some of those dreams a reality.  The area right off the back stoop gets so much traffic from us coming in and out – and letting the dog in and out, it has become quite an eyesore, and a muddy one at times.  The same goes with the area in front of the garden boxes.

I started by drawing up the backyard then playing with a few ideas to see what worked.  I ended up deciding on a gravel path leading from the back stoop left towards the garden boxes and wildflowers.  I then thought of adding another path going the opposite way to the corner of the yard where the mint bed is.   That looked kinda funny all by itself, so I drew in flower beds on either side of that path and created a little corner of the yard surrounded by flowerbeds.  As I did some research, I learned that gravel paths are nice, but you don’t want to have them lead directly to your back door because you’ll end up tracking rocks into the house and driving yourself crazy.  So, I decided that I would transition the gravel paths to the back stoop with flagstones.

It started with a drawing...

Here are a few pictures of the yard before I started any actual work.

Off the back stoop (before)

This shows the corner of the yard (before)

The side of the house nearest the mint bed (before)

Here is the view of the yard from the herb garden - see all of the dead grass? (before)

Flagstones are kind of expensive!  Luckily, I found some flagstones on Craigslist for $1-$2 each, so I went and picked them up and put them in the back yard right off the back stoop.   After doing more research, I decided I wanted to allow room to plant creeping thyme between the flagstones to make the arrangement a little more attractive.  I have obtained about a dozen Mother of Thyme plants that will spread up to 3′ each.  I plan to lay a little more dirt between the stones and transplant the plugs in between the stones and let them do their thing.  The enticing part about having thyme between the stones is that every time we walk on the stones and brush against or step on the thyme, it will release its fragrance into the air!  How wonderful!

Flagstones as laid out.

The flagstones are mostly all the same level, but I do have a couple of them leading directly up to the stoop that I inset a little higher than the others.  This is to lessen the huge step from the stones to the back stoop.  I think the stones will look really nice once I lay more dirt and plant the thyme.

As you can see by the above picture, I also laid the gravel path.  I installed landscape edging around the path to contain the gravel, then purchased the gravel from a local landscaping supply for $14 for a half yard.  I went back and forth between types of gravel for some time.  I decided against the decomposed granite and smaller pea gravel because I didn’t want to track it anywhere.  I also edged the path with a quartz rock border.  The rocks I’ve had in a huge pile on the side of the house since pulling it out from around a few trees in the front.  This is a better use of the rock.

This is the gravel path after laying the gravel on one side

I’ve stripped the sod from half of the beds, and will have to buy some soil to put in, but this is the basic layout.  In the far corner, I put a few more flagstones around an area where I want to put a bench.  I will also get a couple of chairs and a birdbath to put in there somewhere.

I spent about $75 on plants here and there.  I got several from the Natural Gardener.  These are the varieties I chose:

Mexican mint marigold (2 plus the seedlings I sowed)

Indigo spires salvia (2 plants)

Four nerve daisies (1 plant)

Fall aster (1)

Salvia greggii (I chose two: one white and one orange.)

Zexmenia (1)

Texas Lantana (2)

Copper Canyon Daisies (2)

Purple moss verbena (2)

Butterfly weed (1)

Trailing lantana(1)

I also have a few rosemary plants, two Tuscan Blue and one Prostrate to add in the mix, as well as alyssum, dusty miller, black-eyed susans, parsley and fennel.  Oh, and I almost forgot the 10 milkweed plants.  I’m sure that butterflies will eventually find our backyard irresistible!   Most of these plants are Texas natives, require low water once established and should do quite well for us.

What do you think?

*****UPDATE***** Please visit my new post for updated progress on this project.

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Comments on: "Installing a gravel path and butterfly garden – WIP" (10)

  1. I love using flagstone for pathways and will have to try Craigslist next time. I love your plant selections…especially the lantana and Salvia greggii.

    • roundrockgarden said:

      they’re really beautiful plants! i went to one of the big box stores and they had flagstones for sale … $7.99 each!! Craigslist was a FAR better deal! you may have to keep checking a couple of weeks like I did before I hit pay dirt, but I see them listed pretty frequently in our area…

  2. Looks like a fun project… I really like your drawing by the way. Well done.

    Cheers!

    • roundrockgarden said:

      thank you! i hope it turns out as well as it looks planned out on paper. : /

  3. Lots of work, but it will be worth the effort. Getting rid of grass is good! And attracting butterflies is even better;-)

    • roundrockgarden said:

      yeah, i think it’ll be good all the way around. i don’t mind the work, especially since i have a goal: get rid of the dead annoying grass and create a space to sit, smell the flowers and enjoy any visitors that come our way!

  4. Wow…what a difference you are making in your backyard. It looks great and you made some great plant choices. I like your paths. We used flagstone and crushed granite…hard to walk on without shoes…ouch. I love the indigo spires. I bet it feels great to get rid of all that grass. I would like to one day. Great job!

    • roundrockgarden said:

      Thanks a lot, Amy! Gravel is sort of painful to walk on barefoot, isn’t it? Gosh, I remember being a kid and going without my shoes all summer long. By the end of the summer, I could run the entire length of our gravel lane without getting hurt because my feet were so calloused! I think I’ll add a few more flagstones as stepping stones along the gravel path to make it a little easier. But yes, I feel liberated getting rid of so much grass! … and I can’t wait until all of this is done and we can sit back and enjoy it! Thankfully, it looks like the last of the cold weather is behind us and I can get to finishing this project…

  5. Wow, well laid out plan and execution :)

    Look forward for the update ;)

  6. [...] Do you want to install a new path in your garden? Some ideas how to do so: http://j.mp/hECX50 [...]

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