A good path can be a godsend to the home gardener. Making order out of chaos and, in almost all instances leading us to delight. A path or two is a design element that engages the eye and directs the feet towards destination, task, or leisure.
Whatever you use to make your path, it should be easy to navigate. Smooth, stable and wide enough for two people to walk side by side. Try not to make your walk way fewer than 3 feet across. Another thing to ponder is the purpose of your path. A path needs purpose even if it is just meandering through a meadow.
When planning your path, make sure that it’s style compliments your house. If your garden is a geometric wonder your path should enhance and compliment. If you live in a Victorian Lady, a more meandering path might be the thing. Also consider the look of your path. Wood chips and mulch might not enhance a formal garden but be just right for a cottage.
Cost is another factor. Mulch, gravel and mowed grass are the least expensive. Vintage brick or large slabs of stone are more pricey and need some precision when being installed.
Lastly, think about the element of surprise. For a short path I designed from the side yard to my garden shed I used cement surrounded by a 4×4 wooden frame. I pressed large rhubarb leaves into the cement after leveling. How easy was that?
Spice up your walkway with borders of plants that spill out and over along the sides. You could use a creeping phlox or thyme or clusters of hens and chicks to add texture to your design. Install lattice work or a bird bath; add a trellis at a bend or a large pot of color. Remembering that any path worth following should encourge you to stop, and smell the roses.
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for over 20 years and is an advanced Master Gardener.