Ideas for Constructing a Garden Path

Curved Pebble Garden Path

Garden paths are constructed to cut a way through the plants, it's a like bridge in the ocean of vegetation. There are so many options available in the materials and design you can consider for building a garden path that you can be left boggled and confused. It helps to have some idea about the pros and cons of each option and take a decision based on that.

This article will focus on giving some pointers and tips on the factors to consider while building a garden path and the various materials you can consider, with the pro's and con's of each one. The objective is to help you garner useful garden path ideas that can be implemented in your backyard or front yard. We will also discuss a few tips on how to construct a garden path.

Choosing the paving material is usually a matter of personal choice and budget. But make sure it's suitable for its intended use.

A few pointers to remember while building garden paths

Here are a few tips and ideas to keep in mind

  1. If you are making entry paths make sure they are at least 4 feet wide so that two people can walk side by side, secondary garden paths can be 36 inches wide allowing one person at a time.
  2. Garden path design should take into consideration the factor of water bogging, in order to drain correctly the solid paths of concrete, brick or stone would need to slope away from the house or should have a slightly raised center so that the water passes away towards the soil on the sides of the path.
  3. The foundation is usually quite important, don't neglect this step. Excavate a sufficiently deep gravel base to ensure that pavers stay level for long.
  4. If the ground doesn't freeze in your area, make the the gravel base about 4 inches deep and if it does freeze then make your base a good 5 to 8 inches deep.
  5. You must add a layer of sand, 1 to 2 inches in thickness, on top of the gravel and tamp it well so it stays firm. Tamping properly will also reduce the onset of weeds.
  6. You can also lay down a layer of landscape matting or fabric on top of the gravel, but experience says that tamping in sand is a better option.
  7. Blue fescue, candytuft or bush germander can be used on the edges as garden path plants to make transition from path to landscape a little more graceful. You can fill the gaps between pavers using green carpet grass or blue star creeper or baby's tears or creeping thyme.
  8. Garden path weed control may become an issue with mulch or pebble paths. Tamping the sand in before laying out the top layer or using landscape matting are two options available to keep weeds at bay.

Materials that can be used in constructing a garden path

Using shredded mulch and concrete stepping stone for the garden path

Grass - It can be used as an option if you are willing to maintain it. It takes time for the grass to grow and you will have to live with a dirt path till then. Mowing and watering would be regular chores with a grass path. Most people avoid it because of it is so difficult to maintain. If are going with this option, you should consider no mow grass or thyme.

Colored mulches - Some people would suggest colored mulches for garden paths but it definitely does not look like a good option. Considering the fact that they lose their color after a period of 8 to 9 months and there is a possibility of soil contamination from the lead contained in the paint.

The rocks - Gravel, pebbles, cut stones, flagstones, boulders, concrete and stone blocks are all expensive options and usually require professional help. You can have some really beautiful designs put up with these materials if you are willing to bear the cost. You can consider laying out concrete pavers on your own, but it still requires a lot of work.

Bricks - Garden path of brick and mosaic are quite popular these days. Bricks are cheaper and they give a traditional look to the path. You can even purchase some sleek designed bricks for this purpose.

Shredded mulch- Has been recommended by many home gardeners. If you want to line up a narrow strip or a backyard, shredded mulch is definitely a cheap and a fine option. Use a rock or brick border to add elegance to the path. It is easy to buy some designer bricks or concrete blocks that look like rocks.

Wood chips - Make for a very good option too especially considering the fact that you can get them for free from any of the tree hauling companies. You can infact lay down a layer of wood chips and top it off with shredded mulch to create compact path.

Concrete -Using concrete is expensive and usually requires professional help . Concrete also tends to get hot during the sunny days and it reflects light back making it a little uncomfortable in the afternoons. It makes for a very sturdy path though and it stays in a good condition for a very long time.

You can lay out garden stepping stones made out of concrete in between the wood chips, mulch or grass. This will make it convenient for you to walk bare-foot. You can easily make these stepping stones at home using a mold and cement.

How to construct a garden path?

The simplified process is as meted out below

  • Mark the boundaries with a hoe and cut up a trench at least 8 inches deep with the help of a shovel and trowel.
  • Lay a one inch layer of pebbles or granite to create a strong foundation and to allow for good drainage.
  • Spread a 2 inch layer of sand on top and tamp it in tightly. You can also lay out a landscape matting on top of the gravel. This is mostly for weed control and to create a level for the top layer.
  • Spread a 5 inch layer of the material you are using for the garden path, for example shredded mulch and wood chips. Tamp it down with a leveler or just use a garden roller. Level it up with the garden soil.
  • Plant some candytufts along the sides of the path or place some bricks on the sides. This is provide the boundary for your garden path.

Though the above pointers are quite general, they form the basis of how to go about constructing a garden path. Come up with cheap and creative garden path ideas, you don't have to go in for expensive options when an cheaper option can give your path a good look.