Invigorate Your Yard With A Garden Path

Invigorate Your Yard With A Garden Path


Gardens offer beauty and serenity to most any yard, but that enjoyment can be limited without a garden path to bring you from one end of the garden to the other. You can build a pathway that will capture your gardens sensory and visual attributes, while preserving its unique character.

Gardens offer beauty and serenity to most any yard, but that enjoyment can be limited without a garden path to bring you from one end of the garden to the other. You can build a pathway that will capture your garden's sensory and visual attributes, while preserving its unique character.

When I was a teenager, my town had a volunteer organization – Youth Employment Services (YES) – which helped local youth find temporary work with homeowners and small businesses. I was a frequent user as their volunteers helped me find work doing what I liked to do best: cutting people’s lawns.

One customer was an elderly lady whose yard was a town show piece. Her lawn was immaculate with nary a weed, but that wasn’t what stood out: her many gardens scattered around her property showcasing Japanese maples, rose bushes, azaleas, assorted  flowers, you name it announced her gardening artistry.

In her basement she grew African violets while in her living area she had assorted potted plants including a dwarf jade bonsai, zebra plants, green fern, a lemon cypress tree and other greenery I never knew the names for. A true green thumb with decades of experience to show for it.

Thankfully, I wasn’t hired to cut her lawn as she was always worrying that whoever did that job would cut a little too close to her prized greenery. I had already made the mistake of stepping on a four inch high bush, finding out later that it was an exotic plant sapling that cost $15, which was a lot of money more than three decades ago. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay for the damage, but I learned an important lesson: watch your feet when walking through a garden.

Your Garden Path

For everything that my customer had going for her yard, there is one thing that I wished she had made good use of: garden paths. Sure, a natural walking area is nice, but not if someone has difficulty finding where the path ends and the garden begins.

The purpose of a garden path is to bring a person from one end of the garden to the other without tamping down a plant or getting lost in a jungle. Some homeowners prefer a wide, straight path that takes them directly from point to point, while others prefer a meandering garden path that has people walking by all kinds of sensory delights, adding in a bench or two if the journey is long or to invite visitors to linger and savor all within their view.

Some things to consider when building your garden path:

What sort of ground conditions exist? Likely, the area where you plan on placing your path has been previously tilled, since this is a garden we’re talking about. Still, the soil could be tamped down and numerous rocks could be sitting just below the surface, requiring that you carefully excavate the area and even out the ground.

What kind of materials do you want to use? Poured concrete will stay in place forever (or until you have it jackhammered) while concrete or brick pavers can be moved if needed. Consider using cut stones and placing them close together to form a natural looking path – however, you’ll want to make sure that that whatever materials used are not slippery when wet.

How wide of a path do you want? You may have little option for the path’s width, especially if the garden is already in place. Consider having a wider entry and exit way and perhaps use different widths for separate branches of your garden path.

I’ve seen paths which use mulch or other natural materials exclusively, but keep in mind that if drainage isn’t adequate, than you could have a muddy nightmare on your hands.

Buying Your Materials or Deferring to a Landscaper

Is laying down a garden path something that you can do? For most people that would answer would be yes. Had I had access to the same materials long ago, I might have been able to do the work for my customer, but knowing the way that she thought I believe she would have hired a landscaper.

If I were to add a garden path to my yard, I would go for natural materials such as stone, but ensure that my paths were wide enough for the average adult to walk through and well drained. Leveling sand can take care of areas that are weak while I would keep the sides of the walkway free of large plants which tend to spread and overshadow a path in no time, perhaps even housing dangerous deer ticks.

Should you decide to tackle the project yourself, you may want to drop in to your local home improvement store to see if they are offering “How to Build A Garden Path” class to customers. You’re not under any obligation to purchase your materials from them, but you’ll be able to listen to someone whose experience is invaluable and worth tapping.

Photo Credit: Renaude Hatsedakis

Adv. — For additional home improvement or garden enhancement ideas, please visit to learn more.  Spring is an excellent time of the year to tackle important projects, allowing you to enjoy the summer months and the fruit of your labors. For major projects, visit to learn how you can finance your renovations.


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".