Friday, April 19, 2013

Building the Gravel Patio for a Tick Free Home Base While Working on the Land

I live in Tennessee and for those of you who do not live in Tennessee you may or may not be aware that Tennessee is notorious for ticks. Ticks are a part of the landscape here and something every Tennessean needs to understand and be aware of. My husband and I are no strangers to ticks, but when we began working our land we realized that we really had no idea what kind of damage ticks could do to a person. We were used to an occasional tick hopping a ride when we ventured outside in Tiger Gardens. We would have maybe 3-7 bites per season from ticks. A tick here and there I can certainly deal with, but on our land there are literally millions of ticks vying for a piece of whatever warm blooded animal happens by. The ticks have actually swarmed us. I have had a season's bites from ticks already just in the past month! There were at least 15 seed ticks biting each ankle this past weekend-even with preventative measures like boots, socks, deep woods bug spray and checking periodically. It was awful! 

 There are also many types of ticks in Tennessee. They range from tiny seed ticks to large Lone Star Ticks and then some. We primarily have a problem with seed ticks and Lone Star ticks on our land. It is a scary thing to find them all over your body or all over that of your 16 month old granddaughter; which recently happened. We needed take action.
Ticks have their place I am sure but on my body that is not their place. Since it is nigh on impossible to control them or remove them fast enough we decided we would treat our property and build a safe haven for us to take breaks upon without fear of ticks-that was the thought anyhow. Reality is sometimes different.

The solution was a gravel patio with patio blocks. We have also treated the area around this patio for ticks using a tick control. I have never ever used tick control anywhere on my property or my garden but I really had no choice here in this area. The ticks are just too bad. Despite treating the area and making the patio ticks are still finding their way onto us while we work the land. At any rate we can see them better when on this patio so I will share with you my new patio. 

 I started with 2.75 tons of 1/2" gravel. Ever wonder what 5500 pounds of gravel looks like? Just look at the above picture. My poor trailer was not happy with all the weight. And downloading it in 80 degree temperature was not so fun for me either.
Before I even purchased the gravel though I had to convince Mr. Fix-it to scrape out an area for the gravel and patio to go. One might think it is easy to select a location for a patio on nearly 60 acres but it is not! My criteria for the location was that it: had to be convenient, had to have some shade, and needed to be out of the way of the house build when that process begins next year. And oh yes, a view would be nice too. 

The location I chose is on the west side of a copse of trees that surrounds a tiny pond. this area is on the back of our field and will actually be outside of the house boundaries and yard boundaries. I am positive no septic, electric, or geothermal lines will interfere with this location because I want to save the trees.
I purchased heavy duty landscape fabric and put it in the 10'x12' area that Mr. Fix-it had prepared for me. Next came the backbreaking work of downloading all of the gravel. When I purchased it the folks at the quarry said one ton of gravel will fill approximately a 10'x10' area to 2" deep. My area was 10'x12' and I anticipated filling it to about 6" deep so I purchased as much gravel as I thought I could safely haul on my trailer. It turns out I had more than enough gravel in my 2.75 tons to not only fill up my excavation 6" deep but I actually wound up filling it 8-10" deep, filled in the cracks between the blocks and had some leftover to fill in a pot hole on our dirt driveway!

I had some existing 16"x16" concrete blocks I had removed from Tiger Gardens. I have decided to take everything I can when we move-plants, hardscaping, etc. I am working on this process a little at a time but I have to be careful not to leave anything on the farm that if it walked away I would be very sad to lose. At first I thought I would put these blocks in buttressed up against one another but then decided to leave a few inches of gap between the blocks for water drainage and for looks. You can see the patio in progress in the above picture. I packed more 1/2" gravel in the gaps and I tell you the patio is solid and sturdy. I learned this trick of using only gravel in a patio when I built my broken concrete patio. 

The patio was finished in one week-actually three days of working on it. We are now in the process of building a frame around it to make a shelter of sorts so we'll be out of the sun, wind, and insects. I'll showcase it later but for now this is the patio-the supposed to be tick free patio home base
What else have Mr. Fix-it and I been doing on the land? Well, in addition to removing some of the 10,000 daffodil bulbs from Tiger Gardens One I have been trying in vain to get the bulbs planted in Tiger Way (our new place). So far I have managed to plant approximately 4000 daffodil bulbs of about dozen different cultivars (Tete e Tete, Geranium, Rip Van Winkle, Tripartite, King Alfred, Cheerfulness, Thalia, Ice Wings, Hawera, Sun Disc, Minnow, and more I have yet to identify). It is such an easy job digging up the bulbs because you can in one shovelful dig up a dozen bulbs. You, unfortunately cannot or should not plant that many bulbs when you replant. I have divided all of my bulbs and I tell you it is turning out to be a BIG job. I still have literally thousands of bulbs to plant that are already dug and I am fast running out of time since the daffodils will soon go dormant. I don't think all of the daffodils will be moving this year or even next. That fact is the first reality check for me in this impending garden move.
Ever wonder what 600 newly planted 'Sun Disc'  bulbs look like?  You can barely see the foliage but it is there and standing up nicely thanks to all of the rains we've received recently. 'Sun Disc' is a Jonquil type daffodil that is a miniature bulb. It blooms late in the season and has actually begun blooming since I took this picture! This is the area to the right of the new patio. On the left of the new patio is about 500 'Minnow' daffodils bulbs. They will all bloom together and the patio should have a good view of the show. Plus, since this whole area is outside of our fence area I think the deer will be disappointed with the plant choice of daffodils, but I will be a happy gardener knowing that planting daffodils where deer and ticks roam is a good thing....

in the garden...

Garden tour season is upon us and I have a special one coming up soon! Stay tuned for a story about our very own Tennessee Dixter.
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Love the patio!! I need to make a smaller one at the top of my yard!!

  2. Great idea to give yourself a homebase for your work. Those ticks sound awful but I suspect over time as you cultivate the area they will reduce in number. Get some guineas! ;)

    That reminds me of building my shed!

  3. You are well on your way with those daffys but do not kill yourself trying to get them all into the ground. You have until the "For Sale" sign goes up at Tiger Gardens to dig up and transfer them. Your Tick Free Zone looks wonderful and cant wait to see how you finish it off with a shelter. Will be wonderful to have a place to rest in the shade during breaks from work/play...
    Looking Good!

  4. Those ticks sound awful. My husband who has had lyme too many times buys impermeable tick proof clothing. I can find out where to get it if you email me. Your daffodil project makes me tired just reading about it, but I can't wit to see photos.

  5. Everything is looking great. In the picture of the newly planted daffys I noticed a line of rocks. Did you put them there? They look like the edge of a bed. BTW...those little tiny daffys you gave me are blooming.

    1. Hi Christy! Good catch on the rocks. Yes, I put them there. There are more that need to go in that area but I run out of steam before I run out of rocks:( Too busy with other things. Hopefully next week or so I'll have the beds on either side of the pond and patio circled so it is looking good and known to be off limits for mowers. Good on the daffys! I think I must have given you the 'Sun Disc'. A late blooming miniature daffodil. For some reason I was all in to minis with the daffodils the past few years. I'm over it now and am going for trumpets.

  6. So the hard work you talked about on our visit has begun in earnest! I feel tired just looking at all of that gravel. You and Mr. Fix-It are such hard workers. You will have a showplace in no time at all. About those ticks, I think Mr. Townsend has a great idea. Put the birds to work eating them and leaving some great fertilizer behind as they free range. Some fiction book I read recently had a great idea for a movable hen pen that would allow for the birds to eat the bugs but keep them safe from predators. I will try to remember the name of the book.

  7. You are really going full force on the garden already. The patio is a great idea. I think you got that done fast. That's a lot of gravel to move. I noticed the daffodils poking out on the photo of the gravel right away.

  8. Whew, that is a lot of work. The patio looks good. I hope it gives you some relief from the ticks. The shade sure will be nice when that ole' sun shines down in the heat of summer.

  9. Your patio is going to be great! That's a lot of work - both making your patio and planting all those bulbs! But your new garden is going to be fabulous! I know all about ticks. There are fewer here since there are no cattle around us, but I did get one in my hair the other day - and I had only walked around the house! Yours, though, sound much worse, and with the diseases they carry, it's good that you're taking such precautions.

  10. Bottom line. I wade merrily into trout streams in Montana in Grizzly and Mountain Lion areas. A little pepper spray helps. But I'm scared witless of ticks. We have wood and deer tick here in Minnesota. Deer ticks and lyme disease is something I want no part of....:(

  11. You have been one busy lady...once again! Great job on the patio--I hope this turns out to be the haven you're needing from all those nasty ticks. That would certainly keep me from doing much outside! Even if you don't get all your daffodils moved, you're going to still have quite a display in your new Tiger Way garden.

    Lovely blooms on your last post; so nice to see the irises--I'm still waiting for my tulips to open up.

  12. I am not sure if my giant mosquitoes with all their diseases are a better option than the patio.

  13. You certainly have been busy. That patio will get a lot of use from now to long after your new house is built. I really don't like ticks, but right now I would take a tick bite over a fire ant bite. ugh!