Before
After

Hard-packed clay had never supported a lawn. The juniper hedge seen in the right of the photo used to completely surround the house. The space was filled with pine needles dropped from two "Christmas Trees" which the elderly owner of 20 years planted in front. When the owner's son prepared the house for sale, he took out the pine trees and ripped out the front section of the juniper hedge to "open up" the house and to improve the curb appeal, so this is the improved view. He filled the holes with weedy fill dirt. There was not even a walkway from the front door to the sidewalk. When it rained, the heavy clay became very slippery and water pooled where it was trapped by the garage.

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Howard ran a French drain under the cement path, under the sidewalk and through the curb in order to carry the rain run-off away from the house. This required permit from the city to go under the sidewalk. Howard then broke up the old path and graded the yard so the remaining water would drain away. He excavated the space for the pathway bricks, set the edges, created a bottom layer of gravel and sand, then painstakingly set each paver by hand in the Hamilton pattern. He rototilled the remaining area, adding compost to the barren clay. We planted small, drought-tolerant plants, covered everything with newspaper to discourage weeds, then covered the newspaper with path mulch. After the first heavy rain, I sprinkled the mulch with California poppy seeds.

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