Michael Kobi is passionate about DIY, gardening and interior design. He loves bringing the practical and beautiful together in one design. You can follow him on Twitter at @kobibuilds
The humble garden path is often overlooked, yet it’s generally the most used feature of your garden. It’s definitely the most practical element of the space, but there are also ways to make it both enchanting and picturesque. Of course, the style of backyard path will depend on the space you have and whether the path will be straight or curved.
The most important thing to remember, is that while a path should look charming, it should also be functional, providing a safe surface to walk on.
Decide on the purpose
Garden paths will have different purposes. Whether it’s a walkway from the door to the lawn, or a side path that serves as an access route, the design of a garden path needs to suit its use. For main pathways, they should be generous in width and be sturdy. This is how you are going to be accessing your garden so you want to be able to walk, run, scoot or cycle along it.
The service paths can be a tad narrower but remember, these may have machinery or tools moving along it so again, it should be sturdy and provide the right angles for things like wheelbarrows, or your child’s Flintstones car, to turn. However, when it comes down to it, the main purpose of any garden path is to get a person from point A to point B without trampling on flowers or plants.
Things to consider
Before you lay down a brand spanking new garden path, there are some elements to consider. For example, what ground conditions exist? Has the area been tiled before or are you starting from scratch? Remember, what you see on the surface isn’t necessarily what you’re working with, there may be rocks lurking beneath. These rocks need to be examined so you can lay down the right foundations and then ensure the path is sturdy.
Also, what kind of materials would you like to use – concrete, gravel, tiles, stones or brick pavers? There are a multitude of options depending on the look and style you’re after.
It’s also worth thinking about drainage and what can happen when it rains. The last thing you want is your beautifully new garden path lifting because the ground underneath is not suitable for the style of path you’re building.
Easy to install and relatively inexpensive, gravel has a natural look and allows water to penetrate through to the soil. This means it won’t get slippery when it rains and your soil will be kept well nourished. It will also likely go with any garden because it comes in different colours and sizes. However, it can get caught in your shoes and is not that stable as a main path. It can be lovely as a feature path, but probably not for the main access point. If you really want to use it as your main path, consider pairing it with stone pavers interspersed or as a border.
Sturdy, durable and level, pavers provide the perfect path for any kind of family. They’re also a great option for kids because they provide an excellent surface for riding a bike or scooter. The other wonderful thing about pavers is that they come in a variety of styles from clay to concrete or stone. There are also a wide range of sizes, colours, shapes and finishes so the paver-world really is your oyster. There are also endless options for laying them, whether zig-zagging, brick-style layout or herringbone pattern; you can out a personal spin on the path.
Bricks give the garden a rustic appearance, especially if you choose to use second hand bricks. Like pavers, you can mix and match the style and colour of bricks to bring in a little bit more charm. They can also be laid in different patterns so you have complete control over how the path will look. Bricks can also provide a border or edging for a decorative path.
Many people use pebbles are a decorative feature rather than a service or main pathway. This is because they are definitely not the most stable path to walk on. However, if you really want to use pebbles on a walking pathway, you can set them into concrete which means you won’t have to worry about slipping on them as they move under your feet. Again, they come in a range of sizes and colours so you can create something totally unique to your backyard.
If you’re looking for a timber feel in your backyard, look no further. Using timber to deck an area is a clever way to create a path when the ground is uneven or steep. It’s also a wonderful way to bring the beach to your home.
It needs to suit you
When it comes to creating a garden path, the most important thing to consider is the overall look and feel of your backyard. Your garden path should complement what is already existing and should suit the design of your backyard. Also, while a path generally gets people from A to B, if you’re creating an oasis, it doesn’t always need to be so practical, a path can also be just for meandering so you may as well make it pleasant to wander on.