How to Design a Garden

Garden Paths

Build garden paths anywhere that gets enough foot traffic to wear out the grass. Paths make pleasant straight or curving lines through the yard and make it easier to get where you need to go in wet weather. They also save you the trouble of having to constantly reseed barren, foot-worn areas.

If you have a large lot, make paths wide enough for two people to walk side by side. If your path is of grass, make it wide enough to accommodate a lawn mower. Give your paths turns or curves so that part of the scene comes as a surprise as you stroll. Terraces and patios, too, should have an uncrowded feeling, with plenty of space for the furniture plus more for walking around the tables and chairs. Include extra space for container gardens.

Paving materials range in style, price, ease of installation and maintenance, and appearance. Here are four popular options:

  • Irregular flagstones create a casual but handsome appearance. The walkway is leveled and laid out carefully on a gravel bed, with or without mortar. For a more formal appearance, rectangular stones are used.
  • Professionally laid brick paving is durable and rather formal. There are several possible patterns and edgings, but simpler styles look best. Paving bricks are flatter and broader than bricks for buildings. Recycled or antique bricks can be used for pavings and edgings.
  • An ordinary concrete sidewalk, plain and simple, is a good-looking and practical choice and is usually less expensive than stone or brick. Be sure to make the path sufficiently broad or it may look too cramped.
  • Where a path is needed, and a casual look is desired, wood or bark chips can be used. This kind of path is permeable, so water does not run off, which makes it environmentally friendly. Because the chips break down, a new layer must be added from time to time to refresh the path. The old, decomposing chips can be left in place under the new ones or used for mulching or soil enrichments.

Often your garden will need to be fenced in. You may want privacy, or simply desire some decoration. Whatever your rationale, there are several types of fences to choose from. We will look at some of the most common styles in the next section.

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