After months of winter frost, knee-busting weeding, back-breaking mulching and tilling, the time has finally arrived to debut your home’s beautiful garden. Or, is it? While the actual garden is in admission-charging shape, the pathway leading to it may still be an unwieldy, overgrown mess.
Fortunately, we have these amazing garden pathway ideas just in time for spring:
The stepping stone garden pathway is a chosen classic and offers endless design possibility, depending on your individual taste. First, decide on what kinds of “steps” to use, from naturally quarried limestone, buff sandstone, the variegated color-swirling flagstone; or you could go with the less expensive option of aggregate concrete, which can be nearly identical in appearance to natural stone, not to mention cobblestone, or smooth square and circular concrete patio blocks, which come in a wide selection of rich and vibrant colors.
Next, lay the stones in their desired spacing and position, and cut the grass around them with a dry keyhole saw. Remove the sod with a spade, fill in with a thin layer of sand, and set the step in the hole making sure it sits low enough to allow for lawn mowers.
Mix and match the stones with different shapes and sizes, or keep them proportionate. Stagger their placement or keep them spaced evenly apart. A timeless accent to the stepping stone path is to plant hardy perennials in between and around each step. These ground-hugging ornamentals are proven to withstand foot traffic, all the while enhancing the beauty of the pathway. Popular ground-cover options are blue star creeper, brass buttons, Corsican mint, Japanese sweet flag, Irish moss, creeping Jenny, and creeping thyme.
This 18th Century “kitchen garden or potager” pathway is unmistakable in its strict adherence to geometric lines and shapes. In its ideal form, small rectangular, circular or square beds of edible herbs and plants are bordered by a straight, grid-like walkway. The material of choice is tightly laid brick pavers organized in various patterns, from European fan, herringbone, basket weave and running bond.
Inspired by the rustic villas of Tuscany, this garden pathway combines form, art and function. The ground is covered in painted river rocks and stones to create beautifully colored mosaic swirls, spirals, flowers, or whatever your imagination devises.
Stairway to Garden Heaven
If your garden rests on an upslope, the stairway option may be ideal. Popular iterations include railway sleeper steps with a gravel base between rises, decomposed granite with concrete edges, or wide steps of aggregate concrete flanked by ornamentals.
When time and budget are limited, the informal garden pathway is a favorite go-to. Straight, winding, zigzag or sloped, the no-frills, no-drills design involves three easy steps: removing sod, rolling out landscape fabric, and spreading the material of choice. For mulch, the popular options are cypress bark, cocoa bean, and wood chip, however, it should be noted that organic paths decompose over time and need refreshing every few years.
For gravel, the top choices are crushed limestone, seashells, fractured slate, and the highly permeable pea rock.
Once the ground is covered, the final step is edging to keep the loose material from spreading and spilling into the garden. Choices include plastic, steel or aluminum roll-out borders, stacked brick, cinderblock, concrete stones, and landscape timbers. To hide the borders, plant any number of billowy grasses, shade trees, and perennials like hydrangea, maidenhair ferns, rosemary fringe, creeping phlox, Japanese forest grass, lamb’s ear, and sage.
Imagine a crushed limestone pathway flanked by purple-blue spikes of heady lavender, fragrant lilacs, hyacinths, mint and thyme, all emitting sweet aromas when stepped on en route to the main garden center. Add pavers to the top of the gravel to add dimension.
The pathway to your secret garden should convey a sense of wonder and whimsy, a winding passage laid with cobblestones, gravel, or disappearing pavers embedded into overgrown grasses that fade away just before reaching the entrance.
A more elaborate option for the well-hidden garden entryway is a mini-maze made out of dense hedges like boxwood. Consider carving an archway or secret “bookcase door” out of the hedges themselves.
A boardwalkway to your garden can be achieved with portable, rollout wooden curved pathways. These pre-assembled paths are made out of weather-resistant cedar planks joined with wire and rubber spaces, and come in several colors from pale brown to barn red.
A concrete walkway is incredibly versatile and maintenance free. A single solid pour can be molded to any shape or contour, stamped into customized “pavers” that resemble natural stone, stained endless colors, and enhanced with stylized touches via etching, engraving, and stencils.
A favorite, fairytale favorite is the garden arbor. You can construct a single trellis or wattle, or build an entire tree tunnel with arched plastic, metal, or wood trellises running the entire length of the pathway and lined with fast-growing climbing vines and foliage.
Remember to illuminate any garden pathway you choose with small globe lights, tea candles, hanging votives, solar lights, or Tiki-torches.