Garden Paths

One of the most important features in any garden, regardless of its size, is its paths. They are more than just a way to get from point A to point B. Paths are one of the best ways to create a sense of intrigue in a garden. After all, who can resist following a path to its destination? Paths also offer an attractive way to break up spaces in a garden.

Building a path is an opportunity to use a lot of creativity, both in how it is laid out and the materials used. Let’s look at some of the possibilities.

Bricks seem like a logical choice, but it’s all in how you put them down. They can be simply placed on the ground where mosses and other plants can grow between them, or laid in mortar. And because of their uniform shape, they are ideal for creating patterns with borders of the same or different materials.

Stone is also a natural for paths, from the tiniest pebbles, to fist size cobbles. Or you may prefer flat stones with irregular shapes. One of the most impressive applications is large pieces of cut stone for those with money to spare.

Paths often tell on us, making visible the short cuts we take across our lawns where the grass begins to wear. Flagstones are the perfect answer for such wear and tear. When you put them down, you just want to make sure they are spaced in a way to accommodate a comfortable stride and that they are set in low enough that you won’t hit them with the mower blade, and secure enough that they don’t wobble when you walk on them.

There are several less expensive alternatives for paths, like loose gravels or oyster shells packed into the soil or mulch or shredded bark or even cross sections of logs. And if you really want to get elaborate you can cover your path with an arbor so you can enjoy your garden in the shade.

Design Tip: Creating Paths

  • Function First – put paths where you will use them and make them wide enough to walk comfortably. (usually 3-foot minimum)
  • Choose materials that reflect the style of your home.
  • Make paths interesting, not just straight lines.
  • Guide visitors toward your path by accenting or punctuating the entry.