Last month, my wife and I decided to take on a new path.

We’re not changing careers or going exclusively raw vegan, but the last few weeks did take about as much work.

We’ve wanted to put in a paver walkway from where we park our cars off the alley behind our house to our backdoor for years, but never really found the right moment to pull the trigger.

In March, after growing tired of trogging through the mud of the rut our footsteps wore across the backyard, and after weeks of my characteristically neurotic online research, we put in an order for delivery at the local big box home improvement store.

Have you ever done one of those projects that is rewarding and makes you proud, but you never want to do it again? This was one of those for me.

The worst part was the digging. Hours of back-breaking, blister-inducing labor, and I only had to dig three inches down.

Fortunately, we decided to go with polypropylene panels for our base under the walkway instead of the more traditional gravel base. The panels, which are 2-feet-by-3-feet foam boards scattered with holes to allow water through, meant I only had to dig to half the depth I otherwise would have.

I checked several of the online reviews, and many people reported the panels held up well under the changes of seasons, so we’ll see how it goes.

One thing I learned during the Big Dig was my yard was made of way more gravel than I thought. I’d seen some rocky spots back there, but a good half of the length of it must have been a parking area at some point.

My wife was halfway worried all the digging would uncover some sinister misdeeds of previous homeowners, maybe a weapon or a body. No such luck, unless you count the hefty tie rod I unearthed that must have come off a vehicle decades ago and the two dozen grub worms I rudely woke too early in the season.

If you decide to take on a similar project, be prepared to both over- and underestimate the supplies you’ll need. I had to return to the store twice for more leveling sand that goes under the foam base, and I still have a decent stack of brick pavers sitting on a pallet that I’m not sure what to do with.

I’ve also got five yards of gravelly dirt I’ll have to find a place for. I filled some of the low spots in the yard and the holes the dogs dug, but I’ve still got more to go.

In the end, though it’s not perfectly level or straight, I’m proud of the work, and I think it will make the yard more attractive and our lives easier. Well worth it, I guess.

Have you completed any one-and-done projects yourself? I’d like to hear about them and see pictures. Please send your experiences to