Choosing the right garden path is essential, but the choices are many.
Here are some options.
By Carol Brock
Just as the eyes are windows to the soul, a path illuminates the soul of a garden. Whether it’s straight or meanders, a garden path gives us glimpses of beauty and surprising views along its route. A path can be the “bones” of a garden that lends structure and sets a tone for the landscape. Here are paths of different materials and compositions to consider.
Simple white paving stones create this perfectly unpretentious path that deflects attention from the stones to the colorful cottage plants lining it. The slight curves in the narrow path are askew, just like the lovely plants.
Interlocking bricks create an expansive path and a traditional element in this landscape. Massive plantings of impatiens, zinnias and other flowers soften the path, while boulders along the border break up the hard edge and delineate the planting bed.
All the bricks in this path were laid in the same direction, visually leading the eye to the lush plantings alongside it. The flowing bricks create a Yellow-Brick-Road effect that compels you to follow this path.
Grass is the path through this landscape. The colorful flowers and shrubs mix effortlessly with the path to create a wonderfully natural, tiptoe-through-the-turf Mother Nature effect.
A garden standard for ages, round steppingstones inlaid in mulch are a tried-and-true pathway, and one that’s quite at home next to nearly any border in most every type of landscape.
Stamped concrete in odd shapes makes this path more interesting than if the shapes had been uniform and not tooled with multiple designs.
Concrete pavers set over a bed of stones exude a utilitarian vibe in this landscape. Thank goodness the pavers contrast in color and texture, or we might feel we’re marching down the wrong path!
Concrete blocks, colored pebbles and the yin-yang mix of black and white create a Zen vibe in this path through the grass. Although the concrete blocks have uniform widths, the pebble strips in between vary in dimension, and the stable red strip down the middle binds the sides of the path together.
This brightly colored ceramic path adds a bit of whimsy to a formal landscape. The multicolored path and sculptures break up the extensive greenery, which might otherwise feel like too much of a good thing.
The combination of large and small steppingstones, pebbles, ground covers and metal edging gives this path an industrial look and a solid design. The curves and smaller stones set to the side of the main path are visually interesting in this otherwise business-as-usual walkway.
Risers and borders of striated and dark pebbles around black-slab steps give this walkway a definite Asian feel. The greenery contrasts so nicely with the dark stone, there’s really no need for colorful flowers—just a footpath through the plantings suffices. It’s so peaceful you can just feel the stress melt away when you walk on this path.
Mosaic paths can be artful elements in a garden, and quite fun to design and install. Pebbles create a colorful mosaic in this path, which is probably more interesting to look at than comfortable to walk on. Wear shoes!
Elevated walkways are the perfect solution for landscapes that get heavy drainage or spring muds. Leave space between the plank steps to allow foliage and flowers to poke through so you can admire them as you walk.
Wood slabs can make a great path. Cut a downed tree into widths that work in your landscape, then stain the slabs or leave them natural (you might want to cover them with a clear sealant to keep splinters at bay, especially if you walk the path in bare feet). Place the slabs in a pleasing way over gravel, grass, mulch, pebbles or any number of materials. Voilà, your recycled pathway is virtually free.
Engineered wood planks embedded in mulch make for an inexpensive path that’s pleasant enough when bordered by colorful flowering plants, plus it’s an easy DIY walkway to install.