hiking trail or walkway?

It only takes 1 trip (pun intended) across this eyesore to realize that it is an absolutely terrible excuse for a walkway. Someone, sometime long ago, had the idea to nestle stepping stones at awkward distances between piles of large rocks. This person did not own a level and did not understand the function of a walkway. In less than a year's time, we've stumbled many times and twisted many an ankle just trying to navigate the ten feet from our driveway to the safe, level surface of our patio. Moving furniture in and out has been a joy, and trying to clean the path from grass clippings, ice, weeds or other junk is futile. And if you should ever forget to leave the outside light on at night, you might as well just fall down now.

The original genius path design...
When we began tearing it out, we really didn't have a plan for what to do instead, but we knew that bare dirt would be significantly safer than the current path (as would the path to Mordor). We were tired of worrying about guests and yoga students suing when they stumble across this treacherous obstacle and we already tended to walk around it instead. So, out it came...

We also decided to remove a treacherous strip of river rocks that was bordering the sidewalk all the way down. It was unnecessary and only served as (yet another) tripping hazard, harbor for grass clippings and home to unnecessarily large and terrible spiders. Plus, we wanted to move more rocks. ;)
The original area next to the sidewalk

Some progress removing the rocks to fill and plant grass
Together, it took us a few arduous days to load up all the rocks and relocate them to other areas.

Rocks removed, & peony bush was transplanted at an inopportune time (lower right)
If you're wondering, the small layer of rocks remaining along the sidewalk was left intentionally. We discovered a french drain underneath that is probably long filled up with silt, but just in case, we decided to keep it semi-covered with rocks to allow for drainage. Once we got all the rocks out of the way, it was time to transplant a few plants and then dig up the actual walkway.

As much as I like digging and gardening, none of this was really that fun. Thankfully, we only needed about 2 tons of topsoil to fill in our trenches. For now, we will plant grass even where the old walkway was. (When we're ready to add a new one, we won't be using the same angle to connect the patio to the driveway anyway.)

Filled in and grass seed planted!

Not quite done, but almost!
Turns out, I don't know how to plant grass properly. I would consider my thumb to be green, if I do say so myself, but I've never planted grass before and I guess I just assumed that...well, it's GRASS, how hard can it be? It'll grow if I love it and water it. I arbitrarily sprinkled some seeds onto my soil and watered it daily for about 2 weeks (using free water from our rain barrels!). I was excited when the baby grass started to sprout, until I noticed how sparse it was. Should I throw some hay on it? People do that, right?

Baby grass!
My loving husband (former landscaper of 5 years, but wasn't home when I "planted" my grass) lovingly pointed out that I probably should have poked the soil with some kind of tool I don't have and then spread peat moss over the top (also don't have) and covered it with something I do not have. Whatever. It'll still fill in, right? :)

Even if it's dirt and grass seedlings for a while, I'm still very glad to have the ugly, dangerous old walkway gone. I'm not going for an award-winning lawn, I just don't want to fall on my face. Stay tuned for updates and the new walkway installation to find out if it's a "do it yourself" or "do not do it yourself" project. :)