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Slate Paths In Your Garden

By Lawrence JT. Reaves

Slate tiles are traditionally used for roofing while pavers, which are heavier and thicker, are used for flooring, paths and patios. Tiles and pavers are cut and shaped from large slabs of mined slate, but during the mining and cutting process tons of smaller pieces are left behind. Potentially the slate could be wasted, but there is a large market for the product and because it is left over material, it is substantially cheaper. One example where small pieces of slate are used is the ever increasing interest in landscape gardening.

If you’re considering laying a path in your garden, go for a rustic look. It works out far less expensive than laying pavers, takes a much shorter time to complete, and is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project.

Design your path on a sheet of paper first so you get an idea of the layout you want. Depending on the shape and design of your garden you may want a straight path or one that curves. The choice is down to your personal preference.

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Put string and pegs along the two sides of the path. Clear an area about 3 inches deep between the two lines of string. Use lengths of 3 by 1 inch timber and place them along the sides of the path you’ve dug out. Now bang wooden pegs tightly against the sides of the lengths of timber so the timber is held closely to the edging. Bang the pegs into the ground until they are about 1 inch below the top line of the lengths of timber.

It a good idea to stain the timber using wood preserver. It also helps blend the wood into the surroundings.

Work out the volume of the path area. Measure the length, width and depth of the path, and then multiply the three figures together to get the cubic feet. Round up the number to the nearest whole number, this allows you a little extra. If you are unsure, simply give the measurements to the slate supplier and he will work out how much you need.

Broken slate is usually delivered in bags. When the slate arrives, ask for bags to be placed at equal distances along the path. This makes it easier to start laying the path. Empty the bags into the area you’re prepared and then use a rake to level the slate all along the length of the path. If you have a roller it’s a good idea to roll it up and down the path a few times as this settles the slate into place and makes the path firmer. If you don’t, then walking up and down helps to settle the slate in place. However, you will find that over a couple of months it settles on its own.

Your path will last for years and gets more attractive as it ages. If you find parts of the path settle too much, simply use any leftover slate pieces to level the path again.

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