Backyard Dreams (Is This A Crazy Idea?)
In the early evening yesterday, I needed to take a break from working on the bathroom, so Cooper (our dog) and I took a walk around our property. I have to admit that I don’t often venture out to the back half of our back yard, so on the occasions that I do make time to walk around back there, I’m always amazed at how large our property is, and how much land is back there not being used for anything.
This picture was taken with me standing about five feet from our back fence on the property line on the carport side of our property, and looking diagonally across the back section of our back yard towards the neighbor’s house (i.e., the dreadful flip house that still hasn’t sold).
That’s a lot of space back there, just sitting there unused!
I know some of you live on 10+ acres of land and have horses and cows and ponds and the like, so comparatively speaking, our property is quite small. But Matt and I live inside the city of Waco on a one-acre lot, so for city living, that’s quite a bit of land.
In fact, the large one-acre lot was the selling point for me when I saw this house the first time. I knew the house needed a ton of work, but it was worth it to me since it came on such a big lot. I’m not a country girl, so living out in the country on acreage was not an option for me. I like to be within minutes of a grocery store, Home Depot, etc., but I also like to have space and not be in a neighborhood where the houses are so close that it feels like you can reach out of your window and touch your neighbor’s house.
So the lot really sold me on this house. It’s amazing how quiet and private it feels here even though it’s in the city. And yet, almost nine years into living here, we still haven’t done anything with the land we have — the land that sold me on this house. We haven’t done any landscaping in the front, and other than being mowed once every two weeks, the back yard is completely untouched.
As Cooper and I were wandering around back there yesterday, I was dreaming about what I want to do with all of this space. This tree line (marked with the line with the arrows) is the tree line that cuts our back yard into two sections. And the white line on the right shows our property line. There’s a fence about 12-18 inches past that rusted storage building. On the far left side of the photo, you can kind of see our carport through the trees.
So about 2/3 of our back yard is behind that tree row that cuts the back yard into two sections. The section of our back yard that sits on the house side of that tree line feels like a large but normal sized back yard. But then you add this section behind that tree line, and it feels huge (again, compared to other city lots).
I know it’s hard to tell much of anything about pictures of land with nothing on it. When people show their pictures of their lots before breaking ground on a house, I can always tell their excitement, but as I’m looking at the pictures, I’m thinking to myself, “This isn’t interesting. I can’t tell what I’m looking at.” And yet, here I am putting y’all through that same torturous exercise. 😀
So perhaps an aerial view is more helpful. Here’s our lot from Google earth. You can see the tree row that cuts the back yard into two sections. And you can see that the section on the house side of that tree row is more like a normal sized back yard.
In fact, most of the people on this side of the street who also have one-acre lots have just built fences about where that tree line is, and completely ignore the rest of their property. But that seems like such a shame to have such a big lot (and pay property taxes on it every year) and completely ignore it.
So as I was thinking through the different options for how to use this space, of course, all of the standard things went through my mind — swimming pool, gardens, gazebo, fire pit, etc.
I really don’t want a swimming pool. I think they’re pretty to look at, but I’m just not much of a swimmer, and the thought of adding one more thing that I’d be in charge of cleaning and maintaining myself, or hiring someone to maintain, seems overwhelming to me. If I knew I’d use it often, the cost of maintenance (either with my time or by hiring someone else) might be worth it. But I’d probably be one of those people who uses it a lot the first year, uses it a little the second year, and then I’m just stuck maintaining something I never use after that.
So a pool is out. But I do want gardens. And I also want back yard chickens eventually. I’ve been dreaming of backyard chickens since 2013, months before we even bought our house.
Those are all possibilities, but do you know what I really want more than anything else?
A walking track! I want my own personal walking track that I can use every day to get exercise outside. I hate walking on the street (crazy drivers and stray dogs ruin it for me), and I’d rather brush my teeth with a prickly pear cactus leaf than walk on a treadmill. That’s a lesson I learned after I spent hundreds of dollars on a pretty nice treadmill that has now sat in our sunroom unused since 2019. But I do love to walk, and I love to be outside. So my own personal track seems like a perfect use for some of this space we have!
I envision something like this…
I would want it to go around to the front of the house because it would make the “track” longer, but also, it’s pretty normal to have walking paths around a house. In the front, the paths would join with the front sidewalk and veer off to the right and to the left. The one going to the left would wrap around the left side of the house and go to the back yard, and the one to the right would join with the driveway that leads to the back yard.
(I couldn’t find a more recent picture with the current sidewalk that actually shows what the front of our house looks like now, so that one will have to do. It doesn’t show the new steps and handrails to the front porch.)
And I would want the view to be pretty. I envision gardens around the perimeter in the back yard filled with native low/no maintenance plants that look something like this…
And then the middle section would still leave plenty of room for other things, like a fire pit or…you know…a basketball court. 😀 Just kiddin’. But there would still be so much room for chickens and veggie gardens and a gazebo and a fire pit or whatever else my little heart desires. The more I think about it, the more I love this idea!
So now I’m trying to think through what material would need to be used. I would want Matt to be able to use it also, and it would need to be pretty wide so that he and I can go on a stroll together and be side-by-side rather than a single-file line. So for him to be able to join me on the “track”, it seems that concrete is the only option. Anything else might be difficult for him to maneuver over in his wheelchair, and anything too bumpy (like cobblestone or pavers) might be uncomfortable for my feet as I’m walking. It seems like concrete is it. And I’m sure it would cost an absolute fortune to pour something like that out of concrete. So I really need to look at other options to see how this can be done without spending $50,000 to have tons of concrete poured just for me to have my own personal track. (Our front sidewalk was about $4000, if I remember correctly, and concrete was cheaper then, and the length is a small fraction of what I’m looking at for this “track”.)
If you have any ideas of how I could cut costs on something like this, but still have a surface that Matt could maneuver over, and that would be comfortable on my feet as I walk, and that could easily and naturally meet up with our concrete sidewalk and concrete driveway (which has yet to be poured) in the front, I’d love to hear it!
So is this a crazy idea? It might be a little strange, but I think it would be a great use of some of this space we have!
Y’all have given me some great ideas! These are the ones that I’m going to research so far:
- Asphalt — While I generally don’t like the look of black asphalt on its own, I remembered that I keep seeing an ad on Facebook for a local company that does something called chip seal, which seems to be gravel embedded into asphalt so that it’s not dusty and won’t wash away.
- Crushed/decomposed granite — Lots of people have suggested this, and I’m not sure if crushed granite and decomposed granite are the same thing, so I’ll need to look into this. But this looks like a great option.
- Woodcarpet — I had never heard of this product until today, and it looks amazing!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
Absolutely love the idea of a private walking path and gardens! Don’t have any idea the cost of concrete, but would the walk be so wide and in depth that that would make it cost preventative? Wouldn’t have to be the depth to hold a car’s weight, maybe it might be affordable? Don’t know how you would water the gardens except for in ground water system. That would be cost effective as well as ecologically appropriate as to water use.
I was just looking into this. I do think that concrete would be too expensive. So then I thought about that polymeric sand that has adhesive in it and adheres to itself once it’s wet. It’s generally used to fill the spaces between pavers. But I wonder if something like that can be used alone. I’m afraid something like pea gravel would make it difficult for Matt, so it would almost need to be something like sand. I’m really going to start researching this to see what options there are.
As far as the plants, I’d hope to use all native plants that require zero maintenance. We’ve already got lots of prickly pear cactus that grows along our back fence. While I’m not a huge fan of prickly pear cactus, it’s an example of one of many plants that can survive and thrive with zero maintenance required from us.
Polymeric sand isn’t cheap and it does not make a solid surface, nor is it durable. When I built my exposed patio, I used faux cobblestone concrete paver blocks from Lowes and filled in the gaps with polymeric sand. After a few heavy rains the polymeric sand is mostly gone. Those pavers might work for your application but the prep would be a hassle and I’m not sure it would be any cheaper than poured concrete.
I have a walking track and love it.
Oh man – I love this idea so much! Perfect, really! No suggestions on materials but installing native plants will be low maintenance. Maybe have a local naturalist come out and make some suggestions? I can’t wait to see this come together!
Holy cow that yard is humungous! Love the idea of the walking trail through pretty gardens. In the center area, along with a firepit you can also consider a large pergola with perhaps a couple of hammocks attached on the ends and a dining table and chairs. You can’t do pretty much anything with that kind of space!
It’s a wonderful idea that both of you could enjoy. I’m not from Texas so I don’t know how your dirt compacts compared to ours but I suspect yours is sand. Is there a local landscaper you can make friends with to help you make a decision? You would probably need someone to help you for the next ten years to make this into the dream scape you desire. One acre is a lot of room for plants. It’s a blank canvas that you could work on starting closer to the house. I’m excited for this plan of yours!!!
Oh, I just love that idea! I want chickens too, but not possible where we live. Your lot is amazing, and very worth the price of the house that came with it! Your idea for a walking trail and natural gardens is awesome. I too hate to walk on the road, but there isn’t much choice, and driving to a park to walk seems so ridiculous to me. I hate driving somewhere to walk! The pool, I agree. We have one that gets used mostly for company, and in Florida it is great, but we barely use it, and have to maintain it, expensively, 365 days a year. We are not having a pool in the next house. You definitely would hate it after the first year. I don’t know much about surfaces, but would blacktop work and be any better price wise? In our park I think they have some for the trails. Good luck – I hope it works out someday…that would be so enjoyable for you both, AND Cooper!
Kristi they use blacktop at alot of the high school tracks. Why not check out your local schools to find out cost , maintenance and contacts for materials. I was wondering if the wildflowers that Lady Byrd Johnson used on your road systems might work.
Is asphalt to ugly? To hot?
A word of caution, while this seems absolutely awesome it may attract kids that want to skateboard and/or ride their bikes regardless of encroaching on someone’s property. I am afraid unless totally fenced it would leave you open to vulnerabilities if someone got hurt while joy riding on your walk way. Most will say that will not happen because private property. You could always run them off but in today’s world I would think hard about it. I had a heck of a time running off grown young adults from using my young son’s basketball goal in the driveway 30 years ago. They would dunk and once broke the backboard. I tried to be nice but they ruined his goal! A lot do not care and will do it to spite you and then when you contact the police you would have to file trespassing chargers which could lead to retaliation. I guess now being married to someone in law enforcement gives me a different perspective. I love the idea and cannot think of a surface other than concrete that would work best for Matt.
Pools really aren’t difficult or costly to maintain IF you use a robot to clean (recommend Aquabot) and if you stay on top of the chemical maintenance/balance (test kits simplify that) and empty the pool skimmers regularly. A smaller pool in that space, with a garden, and a walking path would be nice. You’d be surprised how much you’d actually use it, it’s great to lounge around and in…designs could also accommodate Matt’s needs…just my two cents
This could be like the treadmill. Why don’t you walk it, as is for now for several months and see if you actually do it.
I don’t have any suggestions on the walking track, but I do think that is a fabulous idea. I love that you are thinking of how you can make your land work for you. Such a great idea.
But the reason I’m commenting is because I went to encourage you to go ahead and get chickens. Just do it! I have 40 chickens, now I have a lot more land than you so mine free range. But, chickens are the easiest livestock animals to keep. The initial set up of their coop and yard is the most work you will do. My chickens have a big coop, probably the size of a small shed. End it only takes me about 30 minutes to clean it every few weeks. Some people even use systems where they only have to clean their coop out once a year. I have not been brave enough to try that yet. But anyways, the actual day to day work of chickens is not hard at all besides letting them in and out but again, mine free range so I have to close the coop every night. And your situation, if they were completely enclosed with good fencing, you probably would not have to worry about that part. And they are so fun!!! Plus, eggs!!! Do it! 😃
Is it difficult to keep chickens safe around dogs? Kristi has Cooper
Not sure if this option would be any cheaper but it explains how to creat a crushed gravel path suitable for wheelchairs https://www.wa-rock.com/ask-the-rock-how-do-i-make-a-gravel-surface-wheelchair-accessible/
Thank you!! I can’t wait to read this and research it further.
There are so many kinds of gravel that you will have to research more. Also in our neck of the woods our house assessment is based on how much cement we have so that’s a consideration. I think with the right kind of gravel and the right people to help bring in the stones & help you with your landscaping choices and dreams that this will be a awesome. Also think of national and local parks and check out their choices for handicapped accessibility.
Kristi, there is an aggregate product called, I *think*, unwashed limestone flume. My neighbors have it in walkways around their stables, and it has become like concrete. It does not move. This is with horses walking on it every day! Wheels of any size would be no problem on it. It’s amazing stuff, and inexpensive. After having the path “cut in” with a Bobcat, etc., haul it in and spread/level it. You could have it gone over with a compactor, although that’s not expressly necessary. It just provides a smooth and level surface, which looks better. Still a fraction of the cost of paving of any kind, and will not increase property taxes as concrete would.
Look at decomposed granite packed as a trail. I have it as a pathway in my backyard and really like it. Once it is packed down it is a mostly solid surface. I didn’t want pea gravel or any loose rock.
We also did decomposed granite at one of our Texas homes for the front walkway. I would definitely look into this as an option.
Blacktop might not be the best option in July-August-September in central Texas. The surface will be quite hot during the day – could cause burns on Cooper’s feet – and will soften in the heat as well. Not optimal for a wheel chair’s small contact area.
what about asphalt or black top?
Our neighborhood is in a planned community with miles and miles of walking/biking trails through the wooded areas – all paved with asphalt. These paths meet ADA requirements and are easy to maintain, and they also blend into the environment. I would suggest a few more curves in your paths for visual interest while you walk, but love the look of the gardens in the photos.
If you do this, here’s a thought: my favorite birthday was my 50th. We had a party in my backyard, and guests brought plants for a “Friendship garden” if they chose, instead of traditional gifts.
I have reblooming daylilies that I would happily share with you – perhaps others would like to help you build your pathway garden with offerings, as well.
I think concrete would be the only option besides pavers. Gravel of any kind would allow narrow wheels to sink in to a prohibitive level. Could you do a raised boardwalk/decking solution? With the prices of wood nowadays that’s probably just as expensive, but with your area being so dry I’d think wood could be a long term solution.
A xeriscape garden could be a really wonderful choice. Check out Laura Eubanks on YouTube, she’s a succulent landscaper in California and does quite a bit of xeriscape as well as drip irrigation in her primarily succulent installations.
Asphalt? I know there are asphalt companies who do large long wandering driveways, surely they could quote you on a walking track.
Hi, in the front yard (so it’s matches the sidewalks) pour concreate. Then in the back use asphalt. I would think this would be cheaper and easy on the feet/wheelchair.
As someone mentioned before, you could use decomposed granite or even slate scape. I work with a PARKS and Rec dept. and they use slate scape to make trails in a lot of their natural parks. As long as you get good compaction, both products work beautifully. I am excited for both you and Matt!
I was wondering about crushed tamped gravel, or even an asphalt path. Parks with wheelchair access around here have something similar. Did find this article which is about a family who altered their backyard for the owner who has MS https://www.oregonlive.com/hg/2016/05/upgrade_backyard_decks_patio_t.html Might have some more ideas for you! Just a note: gardens are not maintenance-free, even “low-maintenance” so you might want to keep those in the areas closer to the house.
Concrete is expensive. I had our driveway re_done 2 years ago. More to the point I had our front walk widened to accommodate my husband’s wheelchair at the same time. However it looks good and is easily used. I’d suggest asphalt but it tends to degrade fairly quickly (that may in part, be the ohio winters though). You could check to see how well it holds up in your area as it might be a partial option. My suggestion would be to use concrete around the front of the house and any other areas that may spoil the look if it’s asphalt. Use asphalt around the back of the property.
I love this idea and think it’s brilliant. I know it’s not cost efficient, but would you consider adding any additional paths that meander through the middle? It would allow you to section the garden areas for chicken coops, vegetables, sitting areas, etc. you have enough space, maybe you might even consider cutting the landscaping and adding a labyrinth meditation circle.
Too many suggestions, but your yard lends itself to big dreams.
That was going to be my suggestion as well, it also would expand your walking path and give you multiple patterns to walk in. Incorporate differing benches and sitting areas, etc.
A few people have already suggested asphalt, so as a related but cheaper option, what about chip and tar? I don’t know the limitations of wheelchairs so don’t know how they fare on it, but that’s what they finished our (country) road with since doing asphalt would have been too expensive.
I would suggest starting with creating your trail first. I think it’s a LOVELY idea to create a path that you and Matt could use together, but it is going to be very expensive. You can lay out your trail and begin using it to walk your dog well before you get it laid with concrete. Then you can confirm that this is something you really will use and will be worth the investment. You may decide to lay it in phases, so the portion that Matt uses might be only half as large, and then when he’s not with you, you can take the longer portion. I’m guessing there will be times you’ll use it alone, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to make all of it concrete. (Perhaps more of a figure 8, with the lower half concrete and the upper half whatever other surface you want to use. Even mowed grass is comfortable for walking. And you can edge it however you like to mark it as a track. Two loops on a shorter lap with Matt might be worth it for the cost savings … and down the road you could concrete the upper half if you find that you’re using it lots and really want more space. Either way, I think it’s a lovely plan. 🙂
We used quarter minus plus stabilizer for some backyard walking area once. I don’t know how it held up because we moved, but it looked great and you could probably use a wheelchair on it if it were done right. I have a very deep 1/3 acre back yard. We have a small concrete path circling our backyard. I love it! It makes it easy for me to walk to the garden and the shed in the back. Of course my little kids love to ride their bikes and trikes and rollerblades and scooters on it. It took up space so we have less grass to water and mow. Sometimes when my kids are antsy I tell them to go run a few laps to get their energy out lol. I’ve never regretted putting the path in our yard.
Love the idea of the walking track! Could you use asphalt/blacktop instead of concrete? I know it’s less expensive, but maybe not enough. Love your progress on your bathroom and home gym, too!
So… I’ve been honing in a quote on some backyard work for me. At a point I felt ambitious. I did some math and using this material called paverbase makes paver paths affordable, smooth, and more stable. Its a 3’x40″ foam panel the has tounge and groove. You do about 1/3 the digging. Also it’s easy to build with a hand tamper vs rental. Instead of a thick rock base for the pavers, you smooth and compact a thinner base. You can stake the paver edging strip thru the foam and cut the foam by hand after laying pavers. I suggest before commiting maybe reset some of your brick patio in a handy pad where you’d like it first. The panels cost $10 ea but it saves you from laying at least 4″ of rock for that surface area.
Also an alternative (to research) a lot of parks around here are laying the recycled rubber mulch mats down for paths. These are advertised to be long lasting. Let water flow thru it but create a stable an comfortable walking surface. Not sure if you can buy wide mats and Not sure what’s required for prepping but just another idea. For a wide continuous material- The fake turf may not be a bad idea. Again not sure what prep is involved to refuse real weeds from growing thru. You can buy rolls of the turf inexpensively from Costco and you can stake it down easily.
I do believe there is such a thing as lime stone tillings/shavings? They are very fine and often used as a base for paver stones, almost look like a sand consistancy. Once placed and ran over with a compactor machine then misted down or watered it will then get a hardened over effect. Its not concrete so its not used as a pavement material. But I have read where it has been used as pathways in such places like nature centers and gardens, but you would need to check the durability and hardness factor to see if it would hold up for wheelchair usage? I do remember it being tinted so that is also a cool benefit as well!
Great idea! I do a lot of walking and had knee surgery, so take what I say for what it’s worth. Concrete is tough on knees and ankles. Asphalt is better. A softer surface is better for joints. Our favorite walking paths, which are in a park where a farmer donated all the land surrounding his fields, are asphalt in one direction and compacted dirt in the other. I like the compacted dirt best. (I mention the park because it’s along the same idea as using the perimeter of your land. We walk in between the fields, through small wood lots, following the natural lay of the property.) Here’s one source that describes various treatments of walking trails. https://www.railstotrails.org/build-trails/trail-building-toolbox/design/surfaces/
Note: I wouldn’t consider a pool for another reason: liability, which means serious fencing and monitoring.
Hi Kristi – what a great yard!!! As you say, innumerable possibilities. I definitely hope you put in chickens and veggies. As for paths, I belong to a nonprofit which maintains a public orchard, and we have been working on the idea of accessible paths for a long time. One of our members had the idea of boardwalks. Boards are nailed crosswise on a wooden frame which is itself supported on flat cement blocks, and then a metal track is attached to both sides. To me they are much more attractive than cement would be. Here is a link to a photograph of a section.https://www.facebook.com/RosewoodPublicOrchard/photos/a.854471064592609/5185978591441813/ To be honest, I don’t know how they are going to construct the ramp for a wheelchair to get up onto the boardwalk, but I can try and find out.
Honestly, if it were me I’d build an ADU back there to generate some income. You’ll never miss the space and you could fund some nice landscaping for the rest of the lot with the rent.
I wish I could edit comments. 🙂
IMO, you’re putting the cart before the horse. If I were you I would come up with a overall plan for the yard and place paths accordingly. I wouldn’t loop an oval through an unmaintained area because you may end up avoiding it because you’d see nothing but undone work.
How much time can you reasonably commit to outdoor maintenance? How much money do you want to spend on plants? Taking that lot into something that would be pleasant to stroll through would take a lot of time and a lot of money, both initially and on-going.
Garden paths are fantastic, but you first need to figure out what you want to walk through.
Kristy, There is a compound our Junior College uses for it’s running track. It’s so nice that many townspeople use their track for walking! It is pinkish, gives a little as you walk, and would be perfect for wheelchair use. I do not know the name of it, but I bet you could find out with your super sleuthing skills. Good luck finding something.
We have a wheelchair accessible walking track at a forestry type site in my town. I think that it is just made up of road crush. Now I haven’t actually seen anyone with a wheelchair using it but since the city put it in I am thinking it must work theoretically anyway.
I don’t think this is crazy at all! My mom has MS and needs a wheel chair or scooter when she walks any distance outside the house. Her dream is to have a track much like you have described all the way around her one acre property and gardens. She has made me promise that I will build it for her when I win the lottery! Sorry, I don’t have a suggestion for a cheaper alternative and we have thought about it!
Some excellent ideas here. I’m thinking of doing something similar, for the grandkids to use with their tricycles (I’m thinking decomposed, compacted granite or stamped asphalt). I’m commenting though, to encourage placing conduit under whatever you end up using, in regular spots, so you can pull water and electrical where you end up needing it (ESPECIALLY under a driveway, which is so difficult to do after it is poured). This has allowed me to install drip irrigation and make my garden as low maintenance as possible, and have lovely fountains in the distant corners of the yard.
Get chickens and walk back and forth each day to care for them or check for eggs. Sounds more fun to me than walking in a circle. I would get bored. Chickens would need me and greet me. Fun, purpose and eggs.
What about TrueGrid? It is a system that can be installed and then filled with dirt or gravel and is ADA compliant. I’m not sure about the cost, but it would give you some flexibility when it comes to garden placement, as you could fill it with whatever you needed to fill it with in the garden areas of your yard. Whatever you do will be beautiful! My husband and I have recently gotten into gardening and have learned a ton watching Gardener’s World on Britbox. It is chock full of information.
When I was little my Dad had a path around our backyard that he jogged on. Nothing as fancy as what you’re thinking of but he loved it because when he jog On the street people would stop him to talk and interrupt his exercise. I think it’s a fabulous idea especially with Matt being in a wheelchair, not just for exercise but being able to enjoy your property more. So I vote it’s not crazy but a wonderful idea that will let you all enjoy your yard more.
I love your blog! For the walking path what about a highly compacted very small gravel almost the consistency of an old fashioned tennis court(think they are clay?). The wheelchair can probably handle if it’s not bumpy and can be smooth?
His wheelchair is pretty much all-terrain, so something small like that would probably work.
Cool idea! WE have a park by us called Robinson Preserve (Bradenton FL) and it has a track of the compressed (not loose) recycled rubber playground material. The park gets a ton of usage by walkers and bikers. The material has a nice bounce and is a variety of browns to blend into the mulch edges of the native planter beds. Might be an option.
Husband used to build trails for park service that were ADA wheel chair useable…..
The product your looking for is called Decomposed Granite. Looks like course sand but isnt.
Goes straight on top of your ground. Depth about 2-3 inches. Smooth out and water to lock into place. Some sort of curbing, side forms might be useful but really not necessary. Once semi dried fill up a broadcast spreader with portland cement and lightly broadcast over top. Water again. For your project 1 to 2 67# bags should be plenty. You just want a light dusting.
Will last for years and be safe on your ankles and for Matts chair.
Maintenance is as simple as raking smooth if ever needed and another dusting of portland, but that maybe as far down to road as 5-8yrs depending on how much you use it.
You probably could call up a National Park Service and ask the maintenance and trail department for their thoughts..
Hope this helps you with your zen walking garden!
This civil engineer agrees.
I’m thinking of this for in my garden between all of the raised beds. I’m thinking about sheet mulching with cardboard to kill the weeds and then decomposed granite over the top.
I think they use this in a lot of places, and I’m pretty sure our Botanical Garden has secondary paths of this material. I wouls not use asphalt in Texas heat. The decomposed granite would only be as smooth as the surface it covers, but overall it seems widely popular. When visiting our daughter when she lived in Virginia, they had walking/bike paths with this surface, and now they live in Colo. Springs and use paths there with local decomposed material. Prep work to make it packed and smooth is key. I alos agree with others to make a path with options, or you will get bored just doing the same laps every time. You can also incorporate some fitness stations, where you can stop and work other muscle groups!
I love your ideas of developing your backyard. What a gift! In our area of Ontario, the playgrounds use recycled crushed rubber that looks like concrete (smooth) and wheelchair friendly. And it has some give when you run or walk on it. It has a softer natural look to it. Have no idea of cost but I love the idea of using a figure 8 plan housing a chicken coup in the back 8 surrounded by natural plants. etc. I love the idea of having a party and having guests bring plants! The chickens would love them too!
I love this idea! Having concrete poured is expensive. My husband and I live on 6 and a half acres and our driveway is just shy of .5 miles. We just bought a concrete mixer. We plan to add a ribbon driveway (over time). The ribbon drive has two strips of concrete for the car tires. Much cheaper and to me it looks more natural. I’m not sure how it would work for you and Matt, but you are a genius. I’m sure you could figure out a way. Just a thought.
You want a stone dust path to cut costs and get all the characteristics you need. What about mini-golf holes? You could have a big party, provide basic materials and a Home Depot gift card for each team and go to town. Every age enjoys mini-golf and you could require every hole to be accessible for Matt and others.
This overview includes stone dust path info: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/mediaLibrary/other/english/surfacing-guide-for-path-projects-94731.pdf
Stone dust trail cost info estimated at $10/lineal foot for 4 foot wide trail here https://www.americantrails.org/resources/the-art-of-building-crushed-stone-trails
Concrete will run you at least $10 per sq ft (four times higher) in the NE – don’t know about Texas. Asphalt will be a similar cost to concrete and very hot to be on.
We needed a paved driveway but sit way off the highway so concrete would’ve meant a couple extra mortgages! I live in FL where we have the same heat as Texas. We found a product called Cold Pack. The county was using it to pave country roads that had been clay but didn’t meet criteria to have formal paving done. They were spending time and money grading the clay roads after every rain so this was the alternative.
About 10 years after laying the cold mix and using it, we decided to do an asphalt over it. When the company came, they said they would have to rip up the cold mix. Well, they tried and finally admitted defeat. Contractor said he had never come up against anything so hard in his career. That was 20 years ago. The asphalt layer has gradually worn away but the cold pack is still in one piece. Google Cold Pack Paving. You have lots of paving companies in Waco. This is not Cold Patch which is used for asphalt.
I have no idea of wheelchair costs, so apologies if this is a stupid comment. Would an all-terrain wheelchair be an option instead so that you can do a cheaper and easier surface?
His current wheelchair is pretty much all-terrain. Even now, he can go all over our property in his wheelchair. He can go all the way out to the back fence, and all around the yard. It’s just kind of a bumpy ride, so it’s not very comfortable. But it is doable. I’d just like something that can provide a bit of a smoother ride for him, and something that isn’t so hard on my feet as walking on land that hasn’t been touched in decades. So anything to smooth out the land and provide a smoother surface to walk on and for Matt’s wheelchair would be good for both of us.
If Matt can navigate the yard now, but it is bumpy, what about having the yard where the path will go rolled with one of those heavy rollers that can be pulled by a yard tractor? Up here in the North, many people have their lawns rolled in the spring to knock down the winter heave and make their lawns smoother. It might work in the short term until a clear decision on more expensive paving can be made.
I think this is an amazing idea!! I have a small deadend to the left of my house and i will walk it because it seems not so far and doable in a small amount of time. But to the right is the neighborhood and is open ended and i don’t walk it as much because it just seems so much larger and would take more time. I think you would use this all the time because it is private and what will seem quick even though it’s acreage so more steps than you think!! What an ingenious idea!!
It’s a splendid idea if you can find a way to do it affordably and no more crazy than me buying wooded acreage for retirement because I want a personal forest path. You could probably get in touch with some city recreation departments to see what kinds of surfaces might be suitable and affordable. They do have to have ADA compliant options so someone should know.
I love your idea! One of the selling points of the house we bought in Ft. Worth was because it’s adjacent to the walking path of the park. A really long walking path. Several miles worth. And it’s glorious! I can’t wait to see how this turns out.
You could possibly have concrete on the areas at the front of the house that is visable, and then have it join asphalt or one of the other lower costs options towards the back of the house that nobody but you and Matt will see. I love the idea of a walking path and gardens. You will get so much enjoyment from it, and still save the land for chickens, vegetable gardens, etc. Looking forward to what you come up with.
No concrete and too hot. I would use a material called “crusher fine,” also known as DG (Decomposed Granite). I would put rusted metal dividers between the path and the garden. You have so much room. Fruit tree time!
Hi! I can’t really help you with the path material, but I just wanted to warn you that native plants aren’t necessarily no/low maintenance. Many native plants are very fussy, and only suited to their one micro-niche that their adapted to, and may not perform well in your yard. Instead of limiting yourself to only natives, I’d look into researching all plants that are resilient and hardy in your climate, and try those. You’ll probably find loads of cultivars that will perform better than strict natives.
Btw, drip irrigation systems are super easy to install DIY, and I know because I’ve done it. Lastly, beautiful gardens are a ton of initial work, with a payoff as they mature and get easier, but not “no maintenance”. The only no maintenance yard would be an unmowed patch of weeds, but i doubt you’d want that. 😉
I also was going to suggest chip and seal but having it in the country where I lived I can tell you that it would not be good for Matt because when it gets hot it tends to stick onto things like his wheelchair. We had a walking trail on our property that we just kept mowed and did not put anything on the trail. We kept it mowed with a riding mower and that was easy. Also inside the trail we had trees and bushes that are easy to care for. You could also have a water fountain and a bench to rest while you’re walking. I know that you’re like me and want it to be as easy to care for as possible.
Brilliant idea – go with the crushed granite rock.
I can see little houses , like a neighborhood in the middle. Chickens in one little house, garden shed another little house, wood shed for the fire pit maybe a fountain and fruit trees?
What a great piece of property! Big thumbs up for both chickens and walking outside! You’re not crazy. Ambitious, yes, crazy no. Why not start with a smaller loop just in the back? As one commenter pointed out, skateborders and others might decide to use your front loop. I don’t know if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert, but some of us like to garden and exercise lost in our own thougts, and your backyard gives you that sense of enclosure and privacy. As far as plants go, your county’s Extension Service will be your most reliable, unbiased, proven advice about what will thrive without much care. Don’t be surprised if they say that there is not such thing as a no-maintenance garden. It looks like you already have a lawnmowing service, so they should have advice for you about how to lay out plantings that will be easy and economical for them to trim or mow, and don’t need irrigation. Whatever you decide to use for the track and how you’ll lay it all out, we know it will be beautiful.
I love the idea!
Think about incorporating some shady spots, with either hard scape or trees. Shade will definitely made a difference in the Texas heat. A bench or chairs in the shade is always welcome. And the walking trail wouldn’t have to be one continuous circle. Intersecting trails with planting areas between might be nice.
I like decomposed granite, but weeds can be a problem. If it’s well compacted it holds up well.
From my experience the granite might be the least option. It is not perfectly stable and his wheels might not can handle that. The Arboretum in Woodway use to have some I think. You could go have look to see if it’s an option for Matt. Or you could call Barreras and Landscape Supply and verify their opinion.
Good luck. It sounds lovely.
Big undertaking. But I love the plan. Being able to see the aerial shot really pulled it together for me. I don’t have chickens but I follow Lisa at Fresh
Eggs Daily and I would recommend her blog and books for keeping chickens and ducks. Sounds strange coming from a city girl…er, senior citizen, but her advice is rooted in 5 generations of chicken keeping. Anyhow, good luck
We have 100+ chickens. You are probably not going to have that many but you have to plan where you will allow them to roam. There are plants and seeds they will eat and others they leave alone. They scratch the ground and will disturb gravel and landscaping rock or mulch. They also “fertilize” everywhere they go. That could include your walking path. I wouldn’t want wheels rolling along the path and then right back in the house. Just some thoughts
My daughter’s neighbor uses a wheelchair and his drive is asphalt, but it has some sort of finish on it that looks silver/gray. It might be cheaper than concrete, but still look alright against your front walk. He and his twin brother are rather reclusive or I would ask what that is. Maybe research it? Btw, I think your idea is super.
At my kids high school here in Houston, the running “track” around our football field is made from recycled tire rubber. It’s ADA compliant and I’ve seen several wheelchairs on it during different events, but great for running and marching (lots of marching band practice on that track!!) as it has a small amount of flex to it. It’s also Texas weather friendly! I have no idea what it’s called, but I’m sure it’s common here so should be easy to find out. I absolutely love the idea of a walking path!
I think that is a fantastic idea & I’m sure your dog will love it too!!!!
I hope you see this since I’m leaving it a day late. What about aircrete? It stretches concrete so you use a lot less and that cuts costs. Lots of videos on it on YouTube. Here’s one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTvy5Ut8eps
LOVE this idea! We have a small hobby farm and I have trails that I use for horse riding and I far prefer those to being on a treadmill! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!
What about the recycled rubber material that they use for kids playgrounds? No idea of the cost, but it would be a solid surface for Matt’s wheelchair and very friendly on the feet for walking. Plus multiple color options to get a look that would blend well with your gardens.
We put a pea gravel patio on the back of our house. Used a DuPont grid product to hold the pea gravel in place. It is sturdy enough to ride a bike on, drive a car on, walk in heels without sinking and of course, is wheelchair friendly. It is evidently widely used in the UK. We did this in 2017 and it has held up well without a hitch!
Your idea of using native plants is perfect. I noticed one person mentioned that they aren’t always low maintenance but they are if you pick the plants for your planting zone, soil conditions, sun, water. Plant right and you’ll have years of enjoyment watching all the birds, bees, butterflies and insects. They will add to the biodiversity of your area.
I suggest joining a Texas FB group for native gardeners. They are a wealth of information and possible seed/plant source. My group in Ontario is fantastic!
It takes native plants 3 years usually before they flower. The first year is all about deep root development (reason they don’t require watering), second year basic stem/leaf foundation and third year amazing!
You could build a couple of raised beds close to the house and start plants from seed. After 3 years you can then transplant them in the back garden. Very cost effective!
Just have to chime in and say that I grew up on 1.5 acres and I had a walking path a very similar shape to your planned one that I walked. Over and over and over. For hours a day, every day, for years. It started out as grass… after time, the grass was thoroughly stomped out and I wore in my own walking path, lol. Guess I’m just saying, don’t overthink it too much. Start walking the path and see how much you like it first? And grass is much softer than a hard surface, and much easier on the knees. 🙂
Wow, great backyard options.
I was going to say “crushed gravel” but the wood carpet looks amazing.
I would also design your gardens so you can enjoy the plants.
Because you are in TX, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Reserve website at U of Austin would be a great resource for you. I would locate a native planting group too, on FB or a chapter of Wild Ones (mostly Eastern) but there is a Dallas Chapter which could help you. Also research local nurseries that sell straight species of native plants and not just the hybrids, and study your backyard conditions, Ie full sun/shade, dry, medium, or wet, etc, and plans that bloom in different seasons. If you plant natives, want chickens and maybe a veggie garden, you will be so happy to see the pollinators and birds come to your yard…nature sanctuary in your own backyard!
You could weed out the invasive and undergrowth in the tree line and make that a woodland garden too.
Other possibilities are a small prairie or rain garden patch.
Prairie moon nursery (online) at prairie moon.com sells seed mixes and flats of pre planned gardens and has very detailed info on what is native to TX. Also check your university extension.
I am guessing Waco was short grass prairie.
Ladybird Johnson native plant database
I don’t know about a personal walking track, but you do have a lovely back yard, I’m jealous!
I love this idea! We looked (dreamt) of a one acre lot and house by a river in our area. The new owner made a walking ring around the property and it’s gorgeous. Its also functional because you walk to the back yard to the dock…
I love crushed stone/(?) etc. Would Matt be able to roll on that surface? I also love the woodlike carpet. Not sure how expensive but if you did concrete…maybe do it in stages…(?) backyard first; then front yard?
What a beautiful way to enjoy your property – just dreaming of all the options is wonderful! I’m sure you’ll be doing lots of research on landscaping, etc. and wanted to recommend a helpful planning resource from Mother Nature’s Backyard. ( http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2013/07/designing-your-new-california-garden-1.html ), The initial sections on developing a base map, site inventory, use areas and analysis, likes & dislikes, hardscape plan, etc will be helpful to anyone and would be excellent homework even if you go with professional installers. The sections on choosing plants are gong to be more California-specific.
Finally, while you can install low or no-maintenance plants, there will be weeds, particularly in the first years. Mulch and other things can help but without a good bit of regular maintenance, it’s likely to return to the way it looks now – not that that’s a bad thing as it looks nice and green to me!
In my part of the country (hot in summer, cold in winter, beautiful in the all-too-short fall and spring), many athletic tracks are made of a material that looks like ground up or shredded rubber compressed together or like a sort of nubby rubber. I think it is firm enough for a wheelchair to be used on it. These tracks are not so hot as asphalt, which can be miserable, and are much easier on the legs. They are also permeable, so water doesn’t pool up. Where I live, our storm water rates are greatly affected by the amount of impermeable surface on our property, so a big, solid track would mean quite a bit of additional recurring expense.
I just did a quick search and here is one company: https://www.rubberway.com. I also saw that alibaba.com sells different products–maybe some of these would work for a do-it-yourselfer or at least to hold the cost down even if you hire the labor.
I would also advise investing in a professional landscape plan before going forward. You can have a landscape designer or landscape architect draw up a plan that you can then implement yourself. Tell them the elements you want, in the near or more distant future, and they can incorporate these into the design. There are landscape designers/architects who work remotely.