Monday, June 4, 2012


I have one of those old timey driveways where there is a strip of grass down the middle.  Well, I'm sure the original intent was to have grass there -- I do not.  It's a challenging area to landscape; it gets a bit of hard use - occassional heat from parked car engines, and it's not connected to the sprinkler system.  It was just dirt when I moved in, and I personally had no intention of ever planting grass there.  I do love that it's not a solid concrete driveway though - when given a choice I will always opt for green surface areas versus concrete or asphalt.

Everyone (you know, "everyone") always talks about how invasive mint is.  Over the years I have planted it in areas where it's difficult to get anything else to grow and had success.  Once you get it to take, you are pretty much good to go.  I thought the center of my driveway would be the perfect space for mint - it's contained from spreading too crazily, and it's a hardy plant. 

Overall I've been very pleased with it there.  Originally I planted peppermint, spearmint, and pennyroyal mint.  I learned that pennyroyal won't make it in the summer heat.  The other two - pretty happy.  They (you know, "they") say that you shouldn't mix the types - that they will hybrid themselves - but do I care?  Not particularly.  It all smells quite heavenly wafting up through my car vents when I drive over it, and it's all the same when feet tromp through it and the minty smell floats in the air.  The plants on the front third of the driveway are really happy.  The back two thirds don't get enough sun and it's mostly died there.  I need to figure out something else for that portion.  I have one healthy thyme plant, but it's not exactly doing the job...  I'd love some riverstone and ground cover...

I have a make-your-own garden stone kit - the type where you can make garden stones with words stamped in them.  Last year I made one that says, "minty" and put it at the end of my driveway, near the sidewalk.  I hoped that it would let passersby know that it was mint there, and not weeds.  Should I care about that? Probably not.  Do I?  Well, a little.  And I do like plant labels.

But at some point "minty" cracked in half.  I keep scooting the pieces together, smushing dirt around them to hold them in place - mostly in vain. 

And then I saw this on Pinterest:

And as I turned the image over in my mind, I had an idea.  I know.  I was just as surprised as you are.

I went to several hobby and craft stores, looking for big cardboard letters.  They never had all the letters that I needed at the same time.  I wasn't willing to buy one or two, and then hope that I would someday find the remaining ones I needed; I have enough projects going without buying half the materials needed and to have them lay around the house, waiting.  After several attempts to buy them in a brick and mortar store, I turned to ThirdShift on Etsy.  The owner said they would let me know when they had all the letters in stock, and they did.  In short order I had my letters.  These are 12" inches tall.

Next I took a box cutter and cut away one edge of the letters, leaving me with a mold:

(I found zig zagged cardboard inside them for reinforcement.  I pulled that out and threw it away.)  Next I sprayed the cardboard with an aerosol waterproofing spray from my tub of camping supplies.  And then I lined the inside of the letters with aluminum tape for additional protection against moisture, and to give them a little bit of stability.  That took considerably longer than I expected - but I did have a little bit of OCD about it...  : )

Planning to pour concrete into the letters, I cut up coat hangers and bent the pieces around into 3D shapes to use as rebar:

And finally, I mixed up a batch of concrete in my wheelbarrow, and filled the molds with concrete.

I left them dry for 6 days, and then carfully removed them from the molds:

And spray painted them a benign color:

Then I painted over them with some paint that goes on clear, but it supposed to soak up the sun during the day and glow at night, but.... best I could tell, it doesn't glow.  Maybe I didn't put enough on -- I'll try another coat.  But -- they still look great in my driveway bed of mint!

Now... as long as nobody drives on them..  : )