Moss Pathway: What materials are needed and how to construct?

njbiologyApril 13, 2014

Hi,

I would like to construct a 150' foot path around my garden. I will use fieldstones as stepping stones, surrounding it with substrate.

I think I'd like to develop it as moss feature path; as opposed to pebbles or woodchips. It's in partial shade and would receive sufficient watering.

So far, all I've done is trench out the 150'-length path at a width of 18" and a depth of 6". I also placed a layer of epdm rubber liner at the bottom of the entire future trail as I had excess from constructing a garden pond; this will be better than landscaping fabric, and will help slow drainage a slight bit. The sides are not lined, so not completely.

I'd like to use the least amount of materials possible, but use what is practical and useful for sure. My idea is this:
ruber liner at bottom, then a 2" layer of clay (backfilled from when I trenched the trail), then a 2" layer of crushed gravel, then a 1" layer of woodchips. When the woodchips start to break down in about a year, I'd like to introduce moss (blender, etc.) to the upper layer. After the woodchip layer breaks down, it will likely leave the crushed rocks exposed enough for moss to colonize. The purpose of the clay is to trap some moisture and to enable me to plant a few low-growing perennials (strawberries, ligonberries, blue-eyed grass, moss phlox, and Silene caroliniana), intermittendly placed thoroughout the trail, in between the sequence of field stones.

Should I be using more/less material(s); how about a small amount of sand, pea gravel, etc?

Thanks,
Steve

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yardvaark

Steve, one thing rubs me the wrong way and that is the use of impervious material below the path. You're asking for all the water to drain off sideways via the path edge. How much difference that will make I don't think anyone can confirm, but it seems in opposition to conventional thinking about draining path bases. Usually, one wants them to drain as much and as quickly as possible. But you have an objective that is probably not in any book so who's really out there to guide you with authority? It seems like you're experimenting in uncharted territory and would be the one to share, later, how the project turns out. Just remember that if you change your mind later at some later point, it (150' path) would be a lot of stuff to undo. (Or for the next owner of the property.)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:20AM
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elysianfields(9b CA)

I made this path bordered by retaining wall blocks filled with crushed granite. It took a day and has been in place for several years. The water drains through it. I have a similar path in the front of the house bordered with broken concrete and filled with tinted bark. It is not underlaid with plastic or fabric and does not have issues with plants coming through and water drains into the soil when we get rain. I put a fresh layer of bark over that one when it needs refreshing. There used to be a concrete sidewalk where the bark path is that I took a sledgehammer to. Both paths can easily be removed.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 2:59AM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

Fields- I enlarged your photo but i still can't tell what those flat round path edgers are. Love them! They look like concrete- did you make them yourself or they boughten? Min

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 2:49PM
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rosiew(8 GA)

elysianfields, I too would love info on the path edgers are. Could you post a pic please and tell us more about them?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 9:35AM
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elysianfields(9b CA)

This is an old photo of the house when the gravel path was begun Rosie and Min. I kept the concrete intact because it's there to route water to a drain and a flume down the side of the house when it pours. The edgers are aggregate retaining wall blocks I set into place by hand, then just filled in between with loads of golden mountain granite. The whole project was under a hundred bux.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 10:11PM
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rosiew(8 GA)

elysianfields, very interesting. I haven't seen aggregate retaining wall blocks like these. Can you given more info on them, like price and where to get them? Really like the look of your path!

Thanks, Rosie

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 9:15AM
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sleevendog

Beautifully done! and so important to have drainage...
It really has filled in so well. I'm rebuilding my path and steps right now and after pulling out what the original owner had done...they used, i discovered, while removing a path of slate...an underlayment of thick clear plastic...just a mess and not at all what should be used...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 9:26AM
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dekeoboe(7B NC)

I would also like the information on the type of block you used elysianfields. I tried searching on line, but could not find anything that looked similar.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:58PM
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elysianfields(9b CA)

The blocks I used were from a big box home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowes. They are carrying these solid blocks now which is a shame because they are not L-shaped like those I was able to get. Plus they came in two sizes, small like I used and larger, and in two colors, beige or grey. I looked online to see if I could find photos of what I used but no luck. They have rounded faces so when used in edging or as a retaining wall you would see a scalloped design. The only thing I can recommend is checking local building supply yards to see if there's surplus product out there. I guess I won't be getting any more of what I purchased if I want to do another project with that product.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 4:16AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Steve, I love the look of moss, but it will be slick when it begins encroaching on the flagstones. Just a thought.

I would use the excess liner for a new water feature or a nice resurface for a workbench instead of underneath the path. Is the climate that you live in very dry? I'm trying to understand why you need to impede the drainage?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:19AM
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