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How to Plan New Paths for Your Garden

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You’ve worked hard cultivating your garden, and you and your visitors should be able to comfortably stroll through it rather than battling past overgrown plants. You don’t necessarily have to create an intricate hedge maze or labyrinth, but you should add paths in order to make your garden look neater and give you and your guests better access to the fruits of your labor. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind when you’re planning to add those new garden paths.

Determine the purpose of your path. Maybe you’re interested in adding a path for practical purposes—you have a large garden and you want to cross from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. On the other hand, you may be more interested in using meandering paths to guide guests all around your garden. The first step in planning any path is figuring out your primary goals.

Choose your materials. There are dozens of different materials you could choose for your new garden path, including concrete pavers, wood chips, gravel, bark, brick, slate, or wood planks. With so many options, how do you decide what’s best for your purposes? Start by researching what materials are readily accessible in your area, and what fits within your budget. Next, think about potential safety risks that certain materials might pose (for example, if you live somewhere that it rains a lot, you might not want to use a material like slate that becomes slick when wet). Finally, consider aesthetics and your personal taste. What material will look best in relation to the plants in your garden?

Determine the width of the path. You may like the idea of being able to create a border path that several people can walk side by side, but you’ll also have to consider how much space you have available on your property. You may need to double-check the exact boundaries by reviewing your home’s site plan, or ordering a new site plan if you don’t have one on record.

Determine if you need a building permit. If you’re just going to lay out a few stepping stones, you probably won’t need to get a building permit, but if you’re planning a larger project, like excavating part of your yard to add a stone walkway, it may be a different story. Check with your city’s building department to see if your project requires a permit, and if it does, be sure you have access to your site plan, since you’ll need it for the application.

Consider ground cover along your path. You don’t want bare dirt around your finished path, so think about what you could plant either along the borders of the path or between the pavers to add some green and improve the path’s visual appeal.

Planning and adding a new path to a garden isn’t something that happens overnight, but it can be well worth the effort you put into it. If your garden is currently lacking walkways, start mapping out some new paths today. 

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  • Ryan Crownholm
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