Every landscape needs a path. Not just to get you from here to there but to add intrigue to the landscape. So let’s talk about designing a landscape path. First, the path has to have a purpose. It needs to go to something—a secret garden, the front door or some other landscape element—and lead you and your guests through the landscape. There are a couple types of garden paths and a variety of materials that can be used to create them.
The path from the driveway to the front door. Often called a walk. Probably the most common garden path and the most visible. And yet the front path is frequently designed incorrectly. So here are some tips: First, make it four-feet wide. This allows two people to walk together to the front door. Second, no “squiggly” paths. Either a straight line, an arch or a slight wave works best. Third, try curving the landscape beds into and around the front walk for a professionally designed look. Leave a minimum of six feet between the home and the walk to allow for foundation plantings.
Next is the garden path. Typically located in the backyard of the landscape, these paths are functional as well as good looking. The cottage garden path gently winds around, taking you here and there so as to enjoy all of the intricate details. Meanwhile, the formal garden has clean crisp geometric walks, dividing the garden into equal areas. The best materials to use for the front walk include concrete, pavers and stone.
Rubber mulch Because rubber mulch is recycled, it’s worth a look. The material is good for woodland paths because it has a rustic and casual look. Black and red colors are available. Start with shredded rubber mulch (not chunks), and use some type of edging material to contain it.
Loose aggregates A path made with loose aggregates uses small stones that are the size of a dime or less, that are flat or angular in shape. Some choices that are affordable and easy to install include chipped slate and small granite gravel. Pea gravel and river rock are not recommended, as they can be difficult to walk on. Add edging to loose-aggregate paths to contain the stones.
Pavers Pavers are a favorite landscape path material because they can be casual or formal, are long-lasting, are easy to maintain and cost less than brick. Because pavers are not set in cement, they can be lifted if repairs are needed. You can even use two sizes of pavers to create a path with a cobblestone look. However, paver paths are complicated to install and are best left to a professional.
Brick Though brick can be costly to buy and install, it is long-lasting. Use recycled or reclaimed brick to cut costs and protect the environment.
Fieldstone and flagstone Beautiful and long-lasting, natural stone paths are top-of-the-line in paths and walks. That being said, materials and installation are very expensive. Remember to request small joints between the stones for cement joints.
On the Border
Borders add detail and beauty to landscape paths. Good materials include brick soldier, stone turned on end and pavers turned on end. Installing a brick border along both sides of an existing cement walk is an easy way to increase width and is much less expensive than removing the existing walk and starting over.