Grave/Shingle Pathway Questions

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Apologies if this is not the correct website to ask the below questions on, as this is not a DIY job as builders were used, but I might have to do some DIY on it or tell some pros what is best for me. Sorry if I ramble, I only mention all the details in case it helps.

Okay, I spend most of my time in a chalet (summer house) in a garden as I am living with my parents at the moment and so that is my "domain", giving them the main house to themselves mostly. Sadly though I don't have running water so need to go to the main house for the toilet and sink. This means I tend to go back and fourth quite often. In the winter it was pretty bad as the ground was muddy between the two buildings, as it was grass, any drop of water would make the garden very boggy and I would either slip over as the ground wasn't flat or bring in mud.

Very kindly and without me knowing my parents had a shingle pathway built for me last week. The workers did a fantastic job. All seemed to be up within half a day. The problem I have, and I have no idea why this is, but everytime I walk on it I am left with backache and neckache, and I still feel like I am walking on springs when I get off it. As the day goes on I get more and more sore and painful. This doesn't happen on any other shingle I have walked on. So I am clueless as to why this is happening. I am a big guy at 26 stone, and I have a curved spine problem with upper back weakness, so it must be related somehow. Yet when I walk on some different shingle at the other end of the garden (not related or connected to the new path, added over 5 years ago) I feel fine. Perhaps it is related to depth as this is fairly deep. I have tried new shoes, and foam insoles, nothing seems to help much.

So I am stuck. I have this amazing pathway built, with shingle, but am aching badly using it, and there is no way around it. All I can think of doing is have stepping stones added. Below are my questions........

1. Have you ever heard of someone having problems with their back or body due to walking on shingle (with shoes on of course) ? I ask in case it is a known problem for some less healthy people.

2. The 25 foot (guessing) pathway has been dug and has a water seep membrane put under and then a few inches of shingle on top with wooden plank barriers at the sides to keep everything in. It is a slightly sinking type shingle, you can see my footprints in it after (but at my weight that isn't surprising). It only feels solid when sub-freezing temps. I can take a photo of the shingle if it helps. Will all shingle compact to some degree over days and weeks ?

3. If I decide to get stepping stones put in, which I hope to do, are they best put directly on top of the membrane and not the shingle ? Should the shingle sit flush around it ?

4. Is it fairly easy to put stepping stones / paving slabs (we have many old ones already stacked up in a corner) on a ready shingled path ?

5. In the meantime can you think of anything I can do to the path to make it easier to walk on ? I have not told my parents of the discomfort as I do not wish to seem ungrateful, and to be honest chances are they will think I am making a mountain out of a molehill, but the aching is getting depressing.

By the way, I am a grown man, not a child, but when your folks do a good deed and one that costs money, the last thing you want to do is moan about it to them if there is another polite way out of it. Especially as for any normal person it would be perfect, and it looks perfect, so the job was done correctly. I am extremely pleased with what the workers have done as it looks great, I am the abnormal problem.

Thanks and sorry for all the text, as I say, I wanted to explain everything to save as much follow up questions as possible.
 
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I'm not an expert on gravel, but I know some stones can be pretty bad to walk on (espicially when laid deep)

Can you post some photos, ideally with a close up and a coin or simillar for scale
 
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As a professional, in my opinion gravel paths no matter how basic should always have a sub-base and then a top dressing of gravel. The sub-base even if its only 2 inches should be compacted with a vibrating plate and then decorative gravel between 30mm and 50mm deep. Never deeper than that or it is very troublesome to walk on/wade through.

Many diy programs and books will say that stripping the turf rolling out a membrane and then pouring down the gravel is enough.

You should not leave footprints in a gravel path no matter what you weigh.

It sounds as though there is no sub-base and the gravel is too deep.

There is no easy way around this without removing the decorative gravel on top and putting in a compacted sub-base.

One thing you could try is to go over the whole lot with a heavy plate compactor. 10 passes over the whole thing will firm it up considerably. You would need to do this when the ground is not waterlogged or you will pump a lot of water up.
 
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Thanks for the replies. I will take some photos and upload them on Saturday.

To be honest I am unsure if it has any base, but when I dig away the gravel I see a black membrane which I am told allows the water to seep through. I don't think there is anything else under that other than the earth. I remember the workers had a job trying to dig up the roots of the nearby tree that went over the path route.

I think the reason a compacter wasn't used (or probably wasn't, as I wasn't there for the building of the path) is because it has wooden sides to the path to keep it all in, so I guess they thought it didn't need to stick together. I am unsure how easy it is to get hold of a compacter, but that is an idea I guess.

Just in case it helps I will take some photos and upload them at the weekend. Perhaps you guys can let me know when you see the path whether stepping stones will easily go there. The workers are due back in the spring to do other work, so I could ask them to fit them then, if I can last that long with this aching.

Thanks again, I will update this thread soon.
 
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Stepping stones need to be layed preferably on a strong mortar or concrete base. 50mm-75mm when you take that into account and add the flag depth of maybe 30mm your up to 100mm which will require more digging out and hence a lot more work.

The least work would be to simply scrape back the gravel and lay the flags on as big a bed as possible without having them floating up in the sky. Even a bed of very strong mortar about 30mm thick will last a while.
 
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It seems very unlikely to me that walking along a 25ft path, which can only take a few seconds, is responsible for the discomfort you're experiencing. I think you should be looking elsewhere.
 
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It seems very unlikely to me that walking along a 25ft path, which can only take a few seconds, is responsible for the discomfort you're experiencing. I think you should be looking elsewhere.

Believe me, it is true, when I walk on it I instantly feel pain in my back and a sponge type feeling under my feet. When I get to the other end I feel like I am walking with a spring for a while after and when I sit down my back feels it is moving, along with the stiff neck and backache. I know it is very hard to understand, I wouldn't believe it either if I didn't feel it. Bear in mind also that I walk over it 10 times a day, not a one off walk (a one off walk doesn't effect me too much). Also my back is very weak anyway, along with a S shaped spine, so I am not a normal healthy person. But like I say, there is nothing wrong with the path for 99.99% of people, just unfortunates like me with multiple problems. The workers really did a good job so I want to keep stressing that it is very likely me at fault, not their work.

I have attached some pics, not easy to tell depth, but might show you the type of gravel/shingle so you know if it will likely compact and how easy it might be to put stepping stones in. When temp is below freezing it is seems solid. Otherwise it is quite spongy.

View media item 56549 View media item 56550 View media item 56551
 
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Tricky one that , George !

Having done a bit of this type of work myself , the first thing I`d say is DONT have a go yourself if you have back problems . Compacters arent the easiest things to use , if your back isnt up to it . Neither is mixing mortar and laying stones !

Why dont you have a word with your folks , ask `em to get the contractors back and see what they say . As stated earlier the best option would be to rip out the gravel and lay a sub base . Not a big job , but a bit heavy going on the old back !!

You could keep the folks happy by offering to pay for the extra work . Cant see it costing too much (maybe a tradesman on `ere could tell you how much) .

Good luck with it :)
 

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