A flagstone walkway? A sensible (and nice) driveway? Help!

Driveway situationThe photo above explains better than my words ever could a couple of situations that Raymond and I are facing with the front yard of the Manse. People, I won’t hide the fact that we could use your suggestions for resolving those situations. In other words: Help!

First situation: the driveway. (Where Raymond’s red truck is parked in the photo.) I am fairly sure that for some years prior to our purchase of the Manse two and a half years ago, residents and visitors here had just parked their cars on the side of the road. (That would be Bosley Road, one of precisely four streets in “downtown” Queensborough that are now proudly marked with beautiful new street signs made here in the community.)

But of course because I tend to look so happily and longingly back at the days when I was growing up in this house, I started to park – whenever I had the chance; Raymond generally likes to be the one doing the driving – on the section of the lawn that was, back in my childhood, the driveway. That long-ago driveway really was a driveway, and not a piece of lawn taken over for the purpose; thanks to my hard-working minister/woodlot manager/farmer father‘s constant use of several vehicles – the family’s elderly used car, an even older half-ton truck, a tractor and a front-end loader, plus various wagons and trailers often attached to the latter two – the driveway was clearly delineated apart from the lawn, and that was that.

But sometime in the decades that followed our family’s tenure in the Manse (that would be 1964 to 1975), the grassy lawn was allowed to return across the driveway, very possibly because no subsequent minister had need of a half-ton truck, a tractor or a front-end loader. Or any trailers attached to same. So my parking of our vehicles there was a bit of a disturbance to the lawn.

Then this past winter came, and as we all know, it was a brute. And the driveway required tons of plowing and tons of anti-slip material – we tried to avoid salt, opting for something marketed as more environmentally friendly – and the result was, come this spring, a large earthy yellow-brown patch where once there had been green grass. That’s what you see under and around Raymond’s truck in the photo.

The other situation is the yellow-brown diagonal patch where, during that blasted winter, we shovelled and plowed and snowblowed and salted (using the supposedly environmentally friendly stuff, of course) so that we could get between our parked vehicles and the house. This makeshift walkway does not, you will notice, coincide with the square concrete pads that were put down some years ago; and why would it? The yellow-brown walkway is where any sensible person actually would walk; the concrete slabs are where someone with too much time on his or her hands would take the long way, walking straight out from the house, turning a sharp right at a 90-degree angle, and then to his or her vehicle.

So while I coax and water and encourage some green grass to come up from the large yellow-brown patches in the Manse’s lawn that resulted from this past winter’s vehicular and foot traffic, I ponder these things:

One: What should we do about the driveway? This makeshift thing that we have going now probably isn’t a great idea. Is laying down gravel the only option? Is there such a thing as an environmentally friendly driveway? Does anybody out there know?

Nice flagstone walkway

Wouldn’t something like this be nicer than the square concrete slabs? Especially with low-growing thyme among the flagstones?

Two: Wouldn’t it be lovely to pull up those square concrete 90-degree-angle slabs and replace them with some big flat flagstones on the diagonal path that people actually walk? With thyme planted among the flagstones, since whenever you brush a thyme plant with your hand or foot it smells so lovely?

And finally: Are my dreams of an environmentally friendly driveway (whatever that might be) and a beautiful thyme-scented flagstone walkway going to cost a fortune to make into reality?

I think I already know the answer to that.

13 thoughts on “A flagstone walkway? A sensible (and nice) driveway? Help!

  1. Not available yet but very friendly. Solar panel driveways and walkways. Never touch a shovel again. They are making them with the hope of replacing pavement.

  2. Dr. K here with one of his many bits of wisdom. A driveway of crushed limestone is a great idea. (Biased opinion as we own a limestone quarry). Seriously, there are a variety of paving stones that would look great as a curved walkway leading to your front door from the gravel driveway. Then get rid of the cement slabs and with a wee bit of topsoil, seed, rain and prayer and voila, your lawn is perfect.

    • You make it sound so easy, Dr. K! But this is one project that is actually on the to-do list, whether Raymond knows it or not. Meanwhile, crushed limestone for the driveway is probably a good idea. Is it possible to buy Ketcheson Special crushed limestone?

  3. Thyme between large flagstones would be lovely, but be prepared to be weeding for a few years while the thyme gains a foothold. In the new walled garden/patio area we had built overlooking the pond last year to feature Aunt Ada’s bench, John (highly recommended) from Stone Path Gardens (Quin-mo-lac Road) laid large (size is very important) flagstones (from a local quarry) with some spaces filled with earth for planting, and some filled with flexible impermeable “grouting” – a nice compromise. This ensures that your flagstones won’t be over-run by green.

  4. Hello Katherine

    An acquaintance of mine, Rasa Baltutis, who lives in Tweed told me to take a look at your blog “Meanwhile at the Manse” when she heard that I had one about the house I live in.

    I did and was impressed with what I saw. Granted you are a journalist, and I, as explained in my blog, am a writer of sorts. I like to write and have been doing so for some time but was never formally trained as such.

    The more I read, the more I found some very interesting revelations.

    I will explain.

    You are and English Canadian who married a French Canadien and lived in Montréal for your working life. So am I.

    You are restoring a childhood home in Queensborough with your husband. My husband and I are restoring an old home in the hamlet of Menie (near Campbellford). We discovered after we bought the home that it was once the home of my 5x great aunt Sarah Ostrom-Ketcheson and Gilbert Ketcheson (the original homesteaders). My house like yours needs much hard work and energy.

    Your father Wendell Sedgwick came from Gelert, Ontario. My parents had a cottage on South Lake between Gelert and Minden. I know exactly where Sedgwick Road is as I just finished a book last year about the homesteaders of South Lake. I am sure relatives of your family would know many of the people mentioned in my book.

    I would very much appreciate it if you would take a look at my blog and let me know what you think. The actual part about the house restoration is still a work in progress and not yet published. I have as much work to do there as we do with the house itself. Mostly with pictures and my timeline of restoration work. My site is mymeniemusings.weebly.com
    Perhaps we may someday have the occasion to meet.

    Stephanie Bell-Boissonneault

    • Hello, Stephanie! My goodness, the connections between your life and mine (and our respective blogs) are amazing! I spent some time early this evening at My Menie Musings, and it is absolutely lovely – as is your historic home. In fact the connections go even deeper than the ones you have mentioned: my family moved to Campbellford after we lived in Queensborough, so I know your area (including Menie) very well. And your ancestors who built your house, the Ketchesons, are surely related to our friends the Ketchesons right here in this area. We must get together sometime and exchange Campbellford/house-restoration/Montreal stories!

      • Sounds like a great idea. We have a few and I am sure you do too. We are around most of the time. Perhaps an afternoon tea and sweet in the near future. I also wanted to mention. We put some wooly thyme between some stone steps my husband constructed and it is just perfect. We never had much of a problem with weeding as it is so dense not much gets through it. It also recovers well after the winter. While walking with my neighbour this morning I mentioned what I have just written to you and she remembers your father. She said he was at the Hoard’s church and another one in Campbellford. She also thought she remembered where he lived while here. Very hard to keep something quiet in these small communities.

      • You’ve got that right, Stephanie! Yes, Dad was the minister at Hoard’s United Church and three others – Tabernacle United at English Line, Stanwood, and Petherick’s Corners – the church that is now the Church Key Brewery! We lived in Campbellford, in a stucco house on Doxsee Avenue North – it’s now a private home rather than a church-owned manse, and has been painted (a nice pale yellow) and renovated. Nice place.

  5. Love those flagstones, Katherine. Environmentally friendly driveway? Clam shells. You’d lose a few ties during the settling in period,but they’re nice looking. It’s not exactly clam shell country, though. How about a zebra mussel driveway?

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