A garden path with hand made stepping stones, pea gravel mulch, and a rock garden.

Making stepping stones with whiskey barrel rings–part two

 There was a multi faceted landscaping problem to solve. I stood there looking at a long narrow pathway down a side yard. The drainage was critical to prevent flooding, and we had tried to grow all kinds of grass but it was just too shady. A few years ago, I had put in a rock border down part of the area with underground drainage and catch basins. Now, I was trying to figure out how to cover the ground between the rock garden and the house.

A solid walkway would inhibit the water flow, so we decided to make stepping stones from whiskey barrel rings and let the water flow around them. As for a ground covering, I was afraid that any kind of wood mulch would float and cause a problem, so we decided on pea gravel. To see how we built the stepping stones, read this article

 The stepping stones had been built and we decided to install the pea gravel before finishing them in order to avoid damage from the wheelbarrow. Finally, the gravel was in and we had removed all of the barrel rings. It was time to finish the job. We washed and cleaned the stepping stones. I used a wash of muriatic acid to remove the cement powder and to help to free up any plant material left from the impressions.

Washing stepping stones in preparation for staining.
Washing stepping stones in preparation for staining.

Next, we applied the stain. There are many choices for stains for concrete. I wanted one that was easy to use and which would be translucent, providing me with a variety of tones. I chose a water based stain that was recommended highly by my friend at Basic Materials, a company that specializes in concrete related applications.

water based concrete stain
water based concrete stain

The concrete stain was a bit expensive, but it mixes with three parts of water. I mixed it up and sprayed it on with a pump up garden sprayer.

applying concrete stain with pump up garden sprayer
applying concrete stain with pump up garden sprayer

 I didn’t want a solid color, so I concentrated on getting more stain in the impressions and then leaving a mottled effect on the flat surfaces. I thought it came out well, but we will watch the stepping stones as the color cures and decide whether to add more or not. With concrete stain, you really don’t see the true color until after the sealer is applied, but when the sealer has been applied, it is too late to add more color. I thought the stepping stones looked pretty good at this stage

concrete stain on home made stepping stone
concrete stain on home made stepping stone

We raked the gravel out around the stepping stones and ended up with a finished product that please me. The ground has been covered and the water should now flow through the pea gravel into the catch basin.

Stepping stones and pea gravel with a rock garden border
Stepping stones and pea gravel with a rock garden border

The next part of the project will be to plant the raised rock garden with plants that will tolerate deep shade. I’m researching the choices.


If you like this article on stepping stones, you may wish to see “Building Rock Steps,” parts one and two.

Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

Do you have a landscaping problem that needs solving? Leave a comment.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Published by John P.Schulz

I lost my vocal cords a while back due to throat cancer. The laryngectomy sent me on a quest to find and learn to use my new, altered voice. I am able to talk now with a really small and neat new prosthesis. My writing reflects what I have learned in my search for a voice. My site johnschulzauthor.com publishes a daily motivational quote and a personal comment. I write an article a week for my blog, johntheplantman.com which deals with a lot of the things that I do in the garden. I am also the author of Requiem for a Redneck and the new Redemption for a Redneck--novels portraying the lives and doings of folks around the north Georgia hills. I have an English Education degree from the University of Georgia and very happily married to the lovely Dekie Hicks. You may enjoy my daily Quotes and Notes at http://johnschulzauthor.com/

6 thoughts on “A garden path with hand made stepping stones, pea gravel mulch, and a rock garden.

  1. I heard on DIY there was a product we can put in the pea gravel to solidify it. We are over 70, and just made 97 stained cement leaf stepping stones from rhubarb leaves. We leveled the ground within the edgers, tamped sand to correct height, and leveled stones before putting in the pea gravel. But it’s loose and we have had broken bones and afraid this could be another cause for another huge problem. Whatever it was they recommended, tightened the rocks with first rain. Do you know what they may have been recommending?? Thank you, in advance, for your help. Pat Templeton

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