Bricks and Stragglers

I’ve created a number of walkways out of various materials in the yard. Most of them share a technique I picked up by experimentation, and which I’ve heard referred to as dry-set by masonry people. I usually lay a bed of sand or light gravel, and then bang broken and used brick (my favorite), stone or other masonry blocks into as tight a fit as I can in the form I want. Using irregularly-shaped pieces makes the work not unlike that of piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. (And when a particular piece won’t fit, there’s always masonry chisels.) I usually “lock” the bricks or stones in place afterward by filling all the gaps with crushed red granite sand.

Brick walkwayThis is a versatile method that allows me to make modifications to the walkway or to elements that interest with it without having to break up mortar later. Occasionally it has been useful when I’ve had to re-route or add sprinkler system elements nearby. Pry out a block or two and part or the whole thing can be disassembled like, well, a jigsaw puzzle, in short order.

The only disadvantage to this method is that plants can and will grow up in all the cracks. This is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Many of my best plants seem to want to wander outside the margins of beds and establish themselves in cracks. But it does pose a problem when I want to keep the plant and avoid running it over with a wheelbarrow.

 That’s the case with this prairie verbena. I love the plant, but it’s in a very unfortunate spot. I have had some luck moving smaller plants, but bigger ones like this tend to get their roots well under other bricks. The bricks, after all, tend to funnel moisture down and trap it.

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