Have you ever wandered aimlessly along a garden path, alone with your thoughts, relishing the beauty of nature? Perhaps you discover a quiet garden gnome peeking from underneath a shrub, or the next turn of your stroll reveals a wide expanse of pastel daffodils, shaded by lush ornamental grasses. Your pathway might be constructed of loose gravel, or colored wood chips, or even well worn flagstones with bits of moss growing between. Whatever your garden path experience, all paths start with planning a course and then incorporating common elements. Follow these steps for creating your own garden path:
- Design. Consider whether you want a formal or casual garden path and make sure that your design fits in with the overall design of your home and landscape. Take into account the color of your house, the materials of ornaments such as benches, chairs, and lampposts, and then design your garden path to compliment the colors and materials of your existing elements.
- Plan. Do you want loose gravel, flagstone, wood chips, bricks, or another material to walk upon? While flagstones lend charm and an old-style feeling, they can be cumbersome to lay. Colored wood chips, while beautiful at first, can weather with time, lose their color, and blow away in harsh winds. Loose gravel, while easy to spread, can hurt bare feet, and brick walkways are expensive to build. Whatever paving material you decide to use, make sure that you plan ahead and think about how it will look and feel years from now, and if you are willing to maintain it with time and money.
- Prepare the ground. Before you lay your pathway, you must prepare the ground by digging your path. Hammer wooden stakes along both sides of your pathway in 6-foot increments, and then tie string from one stake to the next to mark your path. Make sure that your walkway is at least four feet wide to ensure that two people can walk the path side-by-side. If you live in a zone where the ground freezes in winter, then dig to a depth of at least eight inches. If you live in a warm climate, dig to four inches.
- Lay the foundation. Rid the walkway of grass and large stones, and then layer loose gravel along the pathway. On top of the gravel, pour leveling sand to a depth of at least one inch.
- Edge. The easiest edging to use is prefabricated plastic edging that has a rolled edge on top. Such edging is sold in rolls and you can find it at your local home improvement store. Tamp the edging to each side of the walkway and secure with small wood stakes, if necessary.
To complete your garden path, fill in and lay your paving material. If you are using anything other than flagstone or brick, make sure that you use enough so that when the material settles, it will still be even with the top of your edging.
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