How to Plan New Paths for Your Garden


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. 



FAQ Answer
What is the best material for a garden path that's both economical and easy to maintain? Gravel is one of the most economical and easy-to-maintain materials for garden paths. It's cost-effective, easy to install, and allows for excellent drainage, reducing maintenance needs.
How can I ensure my garden path is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities? To make a garden path accessible, ensure it is at least 36 inches wide for wheelchair access, has a firm and smooth surface, and includes gentle slopes instead of steps. Consider adding handrails and benches for resting points.
What are some creative ways to light a garden path for both aesthetics and safety? Creative lighting options include solar-powered lights, which are energy-efficient and easy to install, LED path lights for durability, or lanterns for a soft, ambient glow. You can also install motion sensor lights for safety and convenience.
How often should I perform maintenance on my garden paths? Maintenance frequency can depend on the material but generally, checking paths quarterly for weeds, debris, and potential damage is advisable. For materials like gravel or wood chips, more frequent checks may be necessary to ensure even coverage and to address displacement.
What are the signs that my garden path needs repair or replacement? Signs include noticeable cracks or breaks in paving materials, uneven surfaces that pose tripping hazards, significant erosion, and persistent pooling of water after rain, which can damage the path structure over time.
Can I install a garden path myself, or should I hire a professional? If the project is simple, such as laying stepping stones or a basic gravel path, DIY can be a good option. For more complex designs, or if heavy machinery or special tools are needed, it may be wise to hire a professional to ensure quality and compliance with local building codes.

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  • Ryan Crownholm