A garden walkway is an ideal place to highlight your creativity. Constructed of natural or manufactured materials, a walkway can blend in; becoming a complement to the garden, or created in a manner that it in turn becomes the focal point of the whole setting.
The Path Itself
Before choosing a base material, consider the layout of the path it will take through the area. Depending on the path’s arrangement, some materials may be better suited over others. If your path is on a constantly sloping and winding terrain, pea gravel or log slabs are easily customizable, while a poured cement path may be a logistical nightmare. For this reason, it is important to plan, at least to a degree, where your path will flow. Keep in mind though that plans can change and if you start the construction and end up running into a major obstacle, such as a rock that you thought would be easily moved, only to discover it is a boulder the size of New Hampshire, take it in stride and alter the path to accommodate it. While it will take work to build your path, it should not leave you frustrated to the point that you never want to use it!
With a tape rule, sketchpad and pencil in hand, take a walk around the area that you would like your path to flow. Artistic talent is not needed, just rough in an approximate drawing for your existing structures such as bird feeders and plantings. Take note of each item with a note to what it is, and size. Ask yourself what you would like to gain from creating a defined path. Are you planning to add a main feature within the path, such as an archway or gazebo, and if so, where at and why?
Consider every aspect you can think of when deciding the layout of your pathway, including how a path may affect rain runoff in the pathway itself and its surrounding area. If you will be adding low lying features, such as additional plantings or butterfly houses, sketch these in also, to give yourself as complete a view of what you are hoping to construct.
Choosing a Base Material
With sketch and measurements in hand, choose what base material you will use to create your walkway. Also, determine if you will use any material beneath the walkway, such as a layer of sand. You may also choose to use two materials together, such as gravel with flat rocks interspersed throughout.
Materials to consider include cut cedar slabs, pea gravel, crushed stone, flat rocks, cedar mulch, poured cement, collected stones, and stepping-stones made of various materials. Stepping-stones can be purchased or made onsite. Fabricated from a cement mixture and items such as glass mosaics or recycled broken pottery, they can be used all through or as accent pieces.
Tools and Construction
Once you have your plan complete, begin construction. Assemble all materials including tools. Typical tools will include shovels, rakes, wheelbarrow, a sturdy pair of gloves, and a good dose of sweat equity. Start by clearing the area completely of debris, including rocks, trees, and shrubs that are in the way. If removals of any trees are necessary, hire a professional if you are unfamiliar with using a chainsaw. If you will be hauling a large amount of heavy materials, consider if it is viable to bring it in on a truck, or at the least, an ATV with trailer.
Once prep work is complete, lay the actual path. If using a combination of materials, work in sections, so any problems will arise before you get too far in to the project, making it difficult to correct.
Using your imagination and creativity, you will soon have a beautiful and useful garden walkway to enjoy!