Down the Garden Path

Stone, brick, gravel, or earthen paths create whimsy and appeal in any garden.

By FamilyTime


A path through your garden or lawn adds appeal and charm to your property. A path does not have to be long, complicated, or expensive — although it might be any of these things.

A path should serve a purpose, although that might be nothing more than providing visual interest or leading the way from one garden bed to another. On the other hand, the path may lead the way to the front door, the garden shed, or could be the most efficient route from the garage to the back porch.

A word of caution: If you expect people to use the path specifically to get from Point A to Point B, make sure its course is logical. Nothing insures shortcuts through the shrubbery more than an awkward or out-of-the-way pathway.

Easy Paths
It's not terribly difficult to construct the path yourself, through the garden or from patio to lawn, for instance. Something as simple as wood mulch spread along a shallowly dug itinerary forms a handsome path.

Such a pathway is casual and easy to maintain, although it will have to be refurbished at least once a season. Choose large shreds of mulch rather than chips, which can easily be kicked onto lawns. Also, paths made from mulch that are close to the door could mean mulch will be tracked into the house.

Gravel also creates easy-to-build paths. It’s heavy so probably will have to be delivered, and then you will shovel it along the dug out pathway. If you use gravel, go for self-binding gravel rather than pea gravel. The former stones knit together more readily than the latter.

Stone and Brick Paths
Some like flagstone or fieldstone, and others prefer brick. For short pathways, you can buy the stones from a nearby garden shop or warehouse store and transport them home to be laid by hand. You will need sand or stone dust to hold them in place.

Stones create a country garden effect, while bricks are more formal. Use the material that best complements your garden, your house, and your personality. If you select bricks, use those with a rough surface, not house bricks.

There also are a variety of paving stones, which work very well for homemade pathways. Some of these look like bricks, others are concrete pavers with their own attraction.

Professionally Built Paths
Long or difficult paths — those that go up and down slopes, wend their way through a large piece of property, or are meant to be smooth enough for a wheelchair — often require professional masons.

These may be concrete, gravel, stone, or brick. It's important that these utilitarian paths be wide enough. If the path is at least four feet wide, which is wide enough for two people to walk side by side, it is considered a walkway, not a path.

The Charm of the Path
A small path makes the garden more desirable and delightful to behold. A path meandering through the garden and rounding a corner by a shrub or fence hints of hidden glades and happy forays.

You many trod the path only now and then, but your imagination will wander along it every day.