Garden paths can be completely natural or feature a combination of natural elements and man-made items. Some are made of stones of all sizes, and with borders created from everything from metal, to wood, to plastic, and even more stones. They can be simple, such as mulch or gravel, or complicated pieces of art with or without borders. Interconnected straight and curved lines, whimsically shaped spirals and other patterns are often used in informal areas such as flower and vegetable gardens. There are so many ideas it is sometimes tough to narrow down the choices.
Stone paths are durable and usually permanent, requiring very little maintenance once in place. Stepping stones can be natural materials such as limestone, marble, flagstone and field stone, or man-made bricks, patio bricks, or blocks among others. These can be challenging to lay if you are going to do it yourself, and may require you to enlist help. You could also choose one of many types of gravel available for your stone path. River gravel, pea gravel, or other rock and gravel mixtures are good choices.
Recycled sidewalk can make an interesting if not beautiful garden path. By turning over the pieces and looking at the underside of the concrete after it has been broken up, you should be able to see the exposed aggregate mixed with the cement. If the aggregate is pleasing, some of these pieces used as stepping-stones and placed in the desired location or pattern will add texture and traction. Natural mediums to use between any types of stone can include ground covers such as creeping thyme and sedum or materials such as mulch and various types of gravel.
Other paths that are created from mulch, shredded, chipped wood or used, salvaged, or recycled lumber, such as pallet lumber, make a unique addition to any area needing a path. Wood slices give a novel look. Cedar has long-lasting color when sliced and the wood is durable. Gravel, rock and wood paths may stay beautiful and weed-free longer if they are laid on landscape fabric.
When used in vegetable and flower garden settings, paths are functional as well as appealing. They define the growing space and reduce the temptation for visitors to wander into planted areas. You can purchase bagged mulch from department stores and lawn and garden centers, or you can purchase or rent a chipper and make your own wood chips.
Some paths will need edging to contain mulch and gravel and keep it from entering planting areas. Materials such as stone, wood or plastic will help to keep loose path materials in place. Perennials and grass can also be an ideal edging for a path.
After you have decided where you will place your new path, or even if you are replacing an old one, take the time to shop for materials, talk to knowledgeable people about your specific needs, and be open to the multitude of ideas and suggestions. Whether you would like to use stones, gravel, wood, or even sand or grass for your garden path, the ideas are endless.
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