Materials for the Perfect Garden Path

You’ve planted your beds and pots. Seeds have taken root and begun to flower, yet your garden is missing a certain panache. What is it? After careful examination, you realize that a well-designed path is what your garden is lacking. A place where your feet can tread and enjoy your hard work. This breeds another question, do it yourself or commission a landscaper? If you are a DIY’er like many of our readers, the answer leads to yet another question. Where do I start?

Aesthetics and Design

When considering the aesthetics and design of your garden path, one is faced with many choices. These decisions are largely based on budgetary constraints and your own skill in the DIY realm. I have taken the liberty of selecting three simple, cost effective options you might consider for your Perfect Garden Path.

Mulch/Gravel

Pros: Easy to install, inexpensive, a variety of look and function

Cons: Requires replacement/replenishment every three to five years, messy and time intensive, requires edging material to contain the path

Flat Stone

Pros: Quickly installed, can be foraged or found for free

Cons: Weight and size can be problematic depending upon your method of transportation

Planted/Grass

Pros: Perennial plants keep cost low from year to year

Cons: Requires time for the plants to grow

Beyond material, there are much more considerations in the design of your path. Should it be strictly functional moving from point A to point B? Should it meander? Should it stagger or be lined with lighting or posts? All questions to be well considered. For our purposes here we shall assume and recommend a standard winding or “S” shaped path for your garden or even simpler still, the straight and narrow.

Tools and Supplies

  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden Trowel
  • Gloves
  • Tamper
  • Utility Knife *Optional for use in cutting landscape fabric
  • Dolly *Optional for use in hauling large flat stone

Your garden path will require tools that most have laying around the backyard or in the shed. Each of the three suggestions in this article requires minimal digging and labor for maximum satisfaction. Put your mind at ease. Your perfect garden path won’t require thousands of dollars in sophisticated power tools. All you will need is a little elbow grease and some creativity.

Brief Instructions for Each Path

Each path has its own unique challenges. Some can be installed in an afternoon by one person, others might require that you invite friends or family over to finish the project in a weekend. The choice is yours and all are rewarding.

Mulch and Gravel paths require the most physical labor. Most people will want a path that is ground level. This desire gives way to a necessity to dig approximately three inches into the soil and placing edging along the path. You can minimize digging by shortening the width of your path but can limit the functionality of your path if it is too narrow. It is recommended to dig a trench three inches deep by three feet wide for most gravel and mulch paths.

Flat/Flagstone paths require a good deal of physical labor in the hauling but do not require digging at all. You can simply drop each piece of stone in the exact place that you want in your lawn and tamp it down by foot or gently with a tamper. Be careful not to press too hard and risk breaking your beautiful stone. Some people prefer digging an inch or two into the soil to place the stone to minimize wobbling. This method allows for the greatest level of creativity and ease.

Planted paths while the most aesthetically pleasing require sowing seed or planting individual plants around the stone or in between edging. As mentioned above it can take time for the plants to fully grow and provide the aesthetic that you wished for. Many who choose the planted path to incorporate this look with stepping stones like the Flat/Flagstone paths.

The Choice is Up to You

Whatever method you choose will serve your purpose. The aim is to let your creativity flow and give your garden or backyard and inviting feel. Ultimately the choice of the Perfect Garden Path is yours to make.