How to Create a Garden Path

You’ve likely been to plenty of recreational parks, botanical gardens, and historic homes, all with walking paths. If you’ve ever taken the time to notice, these all have something in common. Though the materials might be different, such as mulch, stones, bricks, or even wood, they nonetheless share the same element.

What a garden does is bring a bit of nature to your overall landscape and can serve as a centerpiece or a complement. To make it really stand out and give it more appeal, you can create a garden path. It gives you and your guests the opportunity to lazily walk along it, meander about, and admire plants for their beauty.

Selecting the Right Material for Your Garden Path

Before you begin planning the direction of your garden path, consider which materials you will be using to create it. This includes the costs of those materials and what’s needed to keep it looking and functioning as it should. For example, if you use mulch, it makes for a wonderful contrast with lush, green grass. However, weeds will be a reality to deal with, so you’ll need landscape fabric to keep them from popping up all along your path. You’ll also need to periodically replenish the mulch to keep its color bright and maintain the amount.

Small paving units, such as blocks, bricks and cobblestones, offer flexibility when designing a path. For this project we used carpet stones (blocks set on a flexible mat) because they are quick and easy to lay. If you use recycled bricks, make sure they are frostproof and hard wearing; ordinary house bricks are not suitable for this project. —

In addition, if you want to install stones or bricks, the cost will rise significantly, not only for the path materials, but also, for landscape fabric, gravel, and landscape edging. These will keep weeds under control, give it a solid foundation, and, keep the brick pavers or stones in-place. You can also go another route and select another type of material. Whatever you decide on, be sure that it fits in with your theme and still serves a useful function. Once you’ve selected your materials and have an idea of how your garden path will look, it’s time to do a bit of math and calculate the cost.

How to Create a Garden Path

The first step is to measure twice and buy once. That is to say, know what it will cost and purchase enough materials to make it happen. It’s always better to have a bit too much than coming-up short and having to fill in gaps. Now, here’s how to create a garden path:

  1. Gather your materials and tools. You’ll need a spade shovel, wheelbarrow, twine or marking chalk, a hammer, stakes, tamper, and a tape measure. You should also enlist the help of a friend to lend a helping hand to make the job a bit easier and faster.
  2. Hammer stakes at the start and end points. Take four stakes and hammer them into the four corners of the starting and ending points, putting two across from one another at the beginning and the end. This is where you’ll decide how wide you want the path to be. For a seldom used path, 24 inches wide will do, but, if you want two people to be able to walk side-by-side, then it should be at least 48 inches wide.
  3. Create lines to follow. Either spray marking chalk along where the path’s borders will be, or, hammer stakes into the ground every few feet. If you use stakes, it’s a good idea to string twine between them along the path’s borders.
  4. Dig out the path. Using a spade shovel, dig out the path and throw the excavated sod into a wheelbarrow. You can compost the sod, or, use it elsewhere it might be needed. It ought to be about 3 inches to 5 inches deep and as even as possible along the bottom.
  5. Lay down and cut landscape fabric. Roll out the landscape fabric in the excavated path, then, carefully cut it to fit the width. In the alternative, you can leave the excess for now and cut it after you’ve completed the path.
  6. Tamp down the foundation. Put down sand, gravel, or, whatever it is you’re using for a foundation. Once it covers the bottom over the landscape fabric, then tamp it down flat. You’ll probably have to do this twice to make it compact.

Now you can put down the path material by shoveling full of mulch or laying stones or bricks in the trench itself.