This year we did the best thing we’ve ever done in the garden. And actually, we didn’t do it.
We hired a professional landscaper to install granite paths for us. I want to say a special thanks to the amazing crew at Anchordoguy Landscaping for their exceptional work! Not only is the result stunning, but they were some of the most considerate people we’ve ever encountered.
Our garden has been transformed into something extraordinary, and I can easily admit that it was SO worth it to have professionals install the granite paths. Every day now we walk out to the garden and just pause in awe and the wonder of it.
Over the decades, we mostly used bark mulch for our garden paths. But, due to gophers and weeds, they tended to devolve quickly back to messy, uneven, and even dangerous surfaces to walk on.
I’ve mentioned recently the worsening state of my knees, which now usually require some kind of assistance to get around. Since gardening is more important to me than almost anything else, it was worth it to invest in some better paths.
If you are not familiar with it, decomposed granite (DG for short) looks kind of like sand, but compacts down to a semi-solid surface. Additives can be used to make it more like cement, but I wanted ours to still allow the rainfall to percolate into the ground to replenish groundwater, so we requested they not use the additive.
The Installation of Decomposed Granite Paths
First, to prep for the crew, we marked off the edges with chalk spray, and moved a few plants to update the garden design. We also demolished an old decrepit doghouse and a rotting deck — leftover from previous owners decades ago.
When the crew arrived, they started by very tidily removing our copious drip irrigation lines, and then set to work grading the soil. Gopher wire was installed over the whole surface, and that was topped with landscaping cloth. Lastly, the decomposed granite was spread and compacted on top, and the irrigation lines reconnected. If that sounded easy it surely wasn’t! One crew member in particular worked tirelessly for weeks! We are very grateful for all his hard work. Thank you!
Maintaining Decomposed Granite Paths
The gardens are now more accessible to me again. I use my electric trike to get around, and the firm, even surface makes walking so much easier too. And yet it is not as hard as cement, so if I fall, I don’t think I would be badly injured.
For weeds that do manage to sprout on top of the decomposed granite paths, we are using a 30% vinegar spray.
For debris that falls onto the paths, I either rake or use a broom called Better Broom, that we got from Harmony Farm Supply. The bristles are very stiff but also not too dense, so that it is perfect for sweeping up any debris on top of the paths without displacing much of the granite.
To keep the sand-like granite particles from being tracked inside, be sure to use doormats. Luckily, this isn’t too much of an issue for me, since I have travertine tile flooring. (We got it on sale and I installed it myself back in my salad days. Glad I did that back then! Whew.)
Keeping Our Gardens (and Homes) Accessible As We Age
While we’re on the topic of accessibility in the garden, I want to thank another blogger, writing as Going Batty In Wales, who has posted a series recently about Building Resilience so she can continue living and enjoying her garden and home into her later decades. This is my wish as well and I read her pieces on this topic with great interest.
There is much talk of aging in place these days. A quote from this site says,
Within 20 years, one in five Americans—almost 80 million people—will be older than 65 and, surveys indicate, they will want to remain in the current homes for as long as possible. However, the country currently lacks the accessible housing units and supportive social services needed to accommodate these desires.
And an article on the UN website says,
“The world’s population is ageing. Virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons in their population. … Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century….”
Being able to age in place is something I increasingly find myself pondering. Not just making my home more accessible but keeping the garden accessible. We will and do need help, and it can be hard to find. Due to the extremely high real estate prices in California, people with important skills are being pushed to live further and further away and understandably need to charge more and more to cover their cost of living. This means that assistance that we need is becoming less available and less affordable. So I’m not only looking for help, but also in deep thought about how to continue to make the garden and home more functional as we age.
I would love to hear any ponderings or strategies any of you have in aid of this topic. I think it is something we can all help one another with in the coming decades.
Happy Gardening to all of you!