Side yard hopscotch with DIY stepping stones

Sponsored post Hopscotch in side yardI've been debating for years about what I wanted to do with our skinny side yard. We need to leave it unobstructed because it's the main pathway to our backyard, but I hated that it would turn into a wet and muddy mess every time it rains. Doing stones of some sort that you could walk over, wheel barrow over, and also keep the side yard from getting swampy made a whole lot of sense, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. That was until I visited Swansons Nursery in Seattle and started talking to their team about what made sense for a marshy yard. WP_20160521_16_45_24_RichWe decided we needed to dig the side yard down, add a weed barrier, and then add sand and fill dirt along with some stepping stones. After that was complete, we could add some ground cover plants that would help with drainage and keep the side yard from turning into a mud pit.WP_20160521_14_16_52_RichInspiration really struck when I started filling up Swansons` boxes with plants and ground covers and realized that the box I was loading them in was the perfect stepping stone size.WP_20160521_16_36_49_RichMore specifically, they were perfect hopscotch size. If we made our own hopscotch stones and laid them in our skinny side yard, we could actually utilize the space better to make it a play space as well as a pathway. With a smaller, urban yard I'm always looking for ways of maximizing space, and making it dual purpose is always a win. Plants ftom Swansons

Armed with a plan and a car full of beautiful plants and boxes, we went home to get to work. To prep the boxes for pouring the concrete mix in so they didn't soak up all the moisture in the mix and make a huge mess, I lined the Swansons boxes with Press'N Seal. Swansons Stepping Stones boxesAs you can see, this is a rather vintage box of the stuff. I got it years and years ago and apparently have never found a use. Well, I finally found one!Swansons stepping stones boxes 2While hubby mixed up the Quikrete mix, the kids and I gathered rocks and special items for the stepping stones so the kids could customize them. I heavily utilized the approximately 10 tons of "special" rocks the kids have collected since they were little {which I then throw into my front planters}, the jar I use in the laundry room for extra rocks and stones I find in their pockets, and other little rocks the kids had stashed in their rooms, the backyard, etc. It's safe to say that my kids are straight up rock hoarding, but that's a whole other post.Stepping Stones special itemsAfter we had the concrete mix poured, we all worked to lay out the hopscotch numbers with all of those rocks, stones and special stuff. We then decided that the kids would each put their hands in the stone that represented their ages so there would always be a reminder of how little they were. Hubby and I put our hands in the first stone, marked with the year we made the stones together. Isn't it cute?
Stepping stone completedHere are all the freshly poured stones, ready to harden and get ready for play. Swansons stepping stones projectIn the days the stones were left drying on the front porch, we started on the side yard. First, we tore up the awful weeds and grass that were there, then we leveled as we moved that dirt elsewhere in the yard. Digging up the yardThen, we put down the weed barrier, covered it with sand and secured it. Of course, our little construction worker had to help out.Construction in side yardAfter that, we laid the stones out and the kids sweetly offered to jump on them to make sure they were good and pressed into the sand. Hopscotch almost finishedNext was the topsoil, which we shoveled into the side yard filling almost all the way the the top of the stones. We saturated the dirt with water to help compress the soil a bit and then it was all ready for the ground covers. We started placing the plants the Swansons employees helped us pick out for our specific yard as we liked, taking into account shade, hardiness, traffic, and drainage.

Here is a first glimpse at the finished project. The hope is that these plants will take root and spread over the whole area, making the side yard less prone to mud and drainage issues, and a whole lot more beautiful.Hopscotch in side yardI think this goes without saying, but the kids love their new hopscotch game and utilize them every single time they walk through the side yard {as do many adults}. The kids have added the stepping stones into all of their outdoor obstacle courses, made them part of their imaginative backyard play, and they have spent countless hours getting energy out hopping back and forth. And, to think I used to hate my side yard… Now it's one of the most shown-off areas of our property, and it's the envy of the neighborhood.

This is why I love Swansons Nursery. I went in for plants and instead came out with a plan… and plants. But, I also love that even if I can't make it to Swansons in the middle of a project, I can still ask questions from right here at home. By using the hashtag #HeySwansons with a picture of my yard/plant/project or simply with a question, I can reach their team and get expert advice quickly and for FREE. Swansons Grow With Us BoxIt's seriously the best service ever and has literally saved my roses from death, helped with my hydrangeas, and it has been the saving grace of this project. Trust me, just try it. They are awesome and you won't regret it. Even better, if you're using the hashtag, they will help you create a Pinterest board to help with your shopping and inspiration when you come into the store. How awesome is that? HeySwansons

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