To finish off our new rock wall flowerbed we needed to come up with a way to fill in the gap between the driveway and the rock wall. As I mentioned before planting hardy groundcovers weren’t working because of the winter plowing and small amount of salt that we use so we really wanted a hardscape to fill in the gap. It was too small for an asphalt company to bother with so that was out of the picture plus we really wanted to treat the area is more of a walkway instead of a continued driveway. So we looked into different patio/walkway options. Pavers are a common patio choice but we were afraid it might look strange next to a natural stone wall and cutting them around each curve would be very tedious. So we decided to go with a very natural look and decided to use flagstone. We live in the country and this rock wall area is the first thing you see when you come to our house so we wanted it to fit in with the natural setting.
We started with a 6″ deep base of 3/4″ limestone with fill (aka. sand). We were able to get 1 1/2 tons at our local quarry for only $17. We filled in the area one inch at a time compacting each layer by hand.
After pricing out flagstone we decide to go with flagstone from Fargo in what is called Buckthorn color. It is a mostly tan color with a little gray mixed in. We wanted a mix because someday we want to have tan rock (either real or cultured) on the house but our rock wall is mostly gray since that is what color most rocks in our area are so it needed to bridge the gap. But what sealed the deal was that it was one of the cheapest flagstone options at $14/lb.
The dry fitting took a many weekends to complete because we had to make 3 trips to the stone yard for more flagstone and leveling imperfect rocks was tricky. For the edges and small corners we used a masonry chisel to make smaller rocks. Chiseling natural rock is always unpredictable though so many of the cuts didn’t turn out as planned.
To fill in around the flagstone we wanted to use polymeric sand but were having a difficult time finding sand meant for such big gaps. The typical polymeric sand from your local big box store can span a maximum distance of 1/8″ and there is no way we could meet those tolerances with natural stone. After a lot of research I found Gator Dust. Gator Dust is able to cover spans of up to 4″ because it is a mixture of small pebbles and polymeric sand. It comes in either a gray or a tan color (we used tan but honestly it still looks a bit gray) and is very simple to install. The hard part is figuring out how much of it you need. We initially bought 10 bags but only ended up needing 6. It is always better to have extra though since all of the sand should be put in at one time. Our area is 40′ long x 2 1/2′ wide at the widest point and had on average a 2″ gap.
We started out by trying to cut a small hole in the bag to pour the polymeric sand only in the gaps but the dust is so fine it went everywhere. So for our second bag we just poured it everywhere and compacted it down. Using a rubber mallet to hit the rocks helped compact the sand around the rocks. Then we carefully swept everything off with a hand broom. Cleaning the sand off the rocks is very important because it can leave a white film on them. After reading many horror stories from people online we made sure we spend plenty of time cleaning off each rock by hand.
Finally, we had to pull the trigger and wet the sand before the wind blew it away or something. Just a few quick mists of water and it set up perfectly. It’s easy to over wet it so follow the directions carefully. You don’t want water to puddle anywhere.
We’re really happy with the way it turned out! The Gator Dust has held up great so far. The finished product has a bit of flex to it and is more flexible when it’s wet so be aware of that if you have heavy patio furniture on it or something. The only thing we’ve seen is that it has started pulling away in a few spots where the it meets the asphalt. But this is due to the uneven edge we had to work with and that fact that some of the Gator Dust was on top of the asphalt.
The whole area is a lot more functional and visually appealing now compared to what it used to be: