Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Walkways, Spring, and Mud!

By Christina VanGinkel

Spring is synonymous with cleaning, and with all the dirt and mud around my house, I am starting to feel as if I will never catch up. Ever since we installed our wood laminate flooring, I have been aware of just how much dirt was actually being tracked into the house when we had carpeting, but I have never been quite as aware of it as I have the last few days. Then, yesterday I ran out of my Swiffer mop refills, and there was no way the floor in the entry and down the hall could wait until I got to the store to pick up a package of them. I went ahead and swept as I normally do before using the Swiffer mop, but then I filled a bucket with hot water and tossed in a few rags and got down on my hands and knees and cleaned the area the old-fashioned way. 'Oh my' was about all I said the whole time I was scrubbing the floor. Even after sweeping, I still ended up with a bucket of mud instead of water with a bit of dirt in it!

This whole episode has me rethinking the walkway leading from the fence where we park our vehicles, up to the porch and our entry door. Just this last fall, I tore up much of the walkway, removing the sides that I had so patiently installed myself just a few years before. They looked nice, but when I realized what a hazard they were to my young grandson, we decided to go ahead and remove them and worry about what exactly we would do with the walkway come spring until later. Later has arrived, and while it will still be a few weeks before we can actually do anything with the stepping stones, the time has come to make some decisions.

The stepping stones leading from the fence to the porch are still there, but when we removed the edging, mud from the yard just pored into the spaces between the stepping stones, covering in some spots, and eroding away in other, the pea gravel that was between the stepping stones. I had originally thought that we should move the walkway itself over about five feet, so that anyone entering the yard from the fence entered on the end of the current fence, and not from the middle the way we do now. This would involve changing the design of the fence itself, but in reality, that would not be that difficult. The fence is a simple structure, and replacing it would not be difficult at all. The problem would arise in the winter months, when this new walkway would wind its way to the porch on the side that we always seem to have a lot of ice build-up on the ground, even when we are diligent about salting the area and keeping it clean. We can go to bed in the evening with the ground clear and wake up in the morning, even when there has been no precipitation overnight, and we will still miraculously have ice on the steps of the porch facing the way the walkway would come in from, were we to change it. For this reason alone, we had decided that we would leave the walkway where it was, just change how it was set up.

Our immediate problem is the mud washing across the stones from where we had flowerbeds built up along the edging we removed. As soon as the frost is completely gone from the ground, my husband has said that we have our work cut out for us, but that he plans to haul in stone to build up a more natural border along the length of the stepping stones, one that a small child cannot trip over, and then refill the pea gravel between the stones. It sounds simple actually, and I like this idea more than anything I have conjured up.

My lesson learned in all of this, which I realized while down on my knees scrubbing was that with any project, thinking the consequences through can be the most important step you take. If I would have thought what would happen once I removed the edging, I might still have done it, but I would have replaced it with something else right away, saving myself from this struggle with the never-ending supply of mud!

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