• Val Lonergan

Our DIY Front Path Makeover

Our home’s front path was the Ugly Betty of home entrances: plain concrete, straight and worn down.  With time, its surface got eaten away by winter de-icing salt, and it became an eyesore. Fun Fact: There was also white paint spilled on it (not by us.)

Not a welcoming entry into our home!  

FUN FACT: This project was featured by Bob Vila’s team on Yahoo Makers!  And also on Apartment Therapy! Click the icons to view. Wooohoo!  *happy dance* Hey!


We did not want to resurface the concrete, nor have it jackhammered away to start over with something else.  Way too much trouble!

So, working within a small budget we decided to update it, using the existing concrete as a foundation.  If you’re looking for a very DIY-able way to redo your path, this may be the solution for you.

No tools or special skills required! Yay! (Though a car or truck with lots of cargo space is recommended 😉

Like in most of the home projects we do around here, we like to go for maximum impact at minimal cost; we do the work ourselves after learning what we need to know.  This project certainly wasn’t complicated, as you’ll see, but it did involve some physical work and maybe a little grunting. It took us about 3 hours on a nice Saturday afternoon.

Here’s the story of how we did it, and how much it cost:

The Inspiration + Plan:

This flagstone path was the inspiration not only because of its easy elegant look and feel, but also because it doesn’t require power tools or any major technical skills, as garden designer Tom Piergrossi points out on the My Home Ideas website by This Old House.

We shopped around at some local garden centres and landscaping supply places to price things out.  But we quickly learned that flagstone like you see here is…  how shall we put this?  Very expensive.

New Plan!

We still loved the look of the stepping stones with small river rock in between, so we tweaked the plan a little.

We decided to go with something a bit more basic, which actually turned out quite nice and contemporary.

Here was our starting point:

We opted to use these inexpensive square pavers from our local big box store.  The plan was simply to lay them evenly in 3 rows, and have river rock/pea gravel in between the pavers.

Here’s how we did it:

STEP #1.  We laid down some stone screening (which is powder made from crushed stone) to make our path level, even, and fill in the damaged areas.

We did this simply by pushing it around with a wide, flat broom until it was smoothed out.  Stone screening is a good foundation, and is also useful for keeping weeds away.

(Note: I had assumed we would use sand to do this step, but a landscaping expert told us to avoid using sand because it attracts ants.  Good to know!) 

STEP #2: Speaking of weeds (which always seem to become a problem for us at some point) we wanted the odds to be ever in our favor so we rolled out some thick weed-barrier cloth (a.k.a. geotextile).

You may need to weigh it down at the ends…  Our geotextile kept blowing away in the breeze!

Note: When choosing a weed-barrier cloth, thicker and sturdier is better.  If it’s too thin and flimsy it won’t do a great job long-term.  #LessonLearnedTheHardWay

STEP #3:  Laying down the stone pavers.  I dropped them into place and repositioned them until they looked straight and aligned…  ish.

STEP #4:  Fill in the gaps with pea gravel/river rock.

Again here, we spread out the rocks with a wide broom to fill in the gaps.

Yes, I know.  My brown bedazzled dollar-store croc knock-offs are dead sexy  😉 😉 

Then we hosed it down, and voila!  All done!

Final Result

A Quick Recap:

Our new path:

A final note:  The tiny river rocks can get kicked up and dislodged (and the kids are little and adore playing with/throwing handfuls of them).  But, they’re easily swept back into place if needed. It’s just as nice when a few are out of place, it’s not a problem.  This minor aspect doesn’t bother us, as the path is so much better overall than what it was before.  We love it!

What Did It Cost?

For those who are curious, here is the cost breakdown:

$107.64   36x 16″x16″ stone pavers @ $2.99ea $73.97     13x Bags of river rock @ $5.69ea $36.00     10x Bags of stone screening (powdered stone) @ $3.60ea $0.00       Geotextile (weed barrier cloth) – we had some leftovers on-hand. $0.00       Labour $217.61   Total Cost

I hope this has inspired some ideas for your home!

Feel free to share your thoughts and ask any questions you may have in the comments below.


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About Val

Entrepreneur, thinker, extra-miler, reader and writer. On a journey toward understanding happiness, and sharing all the good stuff along the way. Wife & Mother of 2 kiddos and 2 doggos, keeper of a century-old house. Partial to impromptu dance parties.


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