seeking garden path ideas

libbypittsburgh(5/6 Pittsburgh)May 10, 2006


I am currently digging the grass out of an area about 60 feet long and roughly 3-4 feet wide. I am a physically weak person with "spaghetti arms", so this will take me a few days. There are established, mulched gardens on either side of this future path. I'd like to keep the weeds to a minimum and have a nice, walkable material to cover the path. I am also going to pound in some of those Gardener's Supply connectable slats that define the path.

Money is an issue and there is absolutely no way I could ever afford things like flagstones, or anything like concrete pavers. What do you think of using some colored mulch, like the black or red variety? The mulch in the adjacent gardens is cypress bark, turning silver, so I'd like a contrasting color for impact. I've heard that the colored mulches can be bad for plants because they are often made with home renovation wood that is then spray painted and may have old lead paint or other chemicals in it. Is it safe for a walkway with plants on either side?

I MIGHT be able to afford some super cheap pebbles or gravel. I've heard that using pebbles on a path can be a bad idea because tree leaves and "helicopters" and such get in and it's a pain to get them out. Is this your experience?

Am not asking for a pity party, but I'll be doing all this by myself and don't want to make any huge planning or monetary pitfalls, since I'd like this path to be pretty permanent and not require a whole lot of maintenance.

Please write with any suggestions!

Thank you, Libby

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Grass. It's easy to install, easy to maintain with the right equipment, doesn't require any heavy lifting, is very cheap, very walkable, and contrasts nicely with garden beds.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 2:11PM
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libbypittsburgh(5/6 Pittsburgh)

Thanks for the quick response, mad_gallica! Actually though, grass is NOT easy for us to maintain. My husband has physically disabilities that make it tough to mow and we're trying to minimize the grass. And dandelions adore growing in our grass, so I'm really needing to get rid of the grass and make a path with other materials. I've removed large areas of grass before, and while it takes me about 20 times longer to do it than someone else, it's something I prioritize. thanks anyway!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 2:23PM
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I've always thought this was rather nice. It's relatively affordable (40 dollars for 8 feet, 20 dollars for additional 3 foot sections) and easy to lay down and maintain. I have actually seen it in use and it has a sweet charm.


Here is a link that might be useful: cedar garden path

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Sorry. I overlooked the fact that the path is to be 60 feet long. This might not be an affordable option in that case(7 lengths of 8 feet at 40 dollars a piece, and one 3 foot section at 20 dollars, for a total of 59 feet for 300 dollars).


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 3:27PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

I don't like the way the colored mulches look. Tree pruning companies in my area will give you the chips for free. They tend to be coarsely chopped, and they'll dump them in your front yard or driveway and you have to move them, but if you rake off the biggest chunks it's not too bad, and they don't tend to stick to your shoes when wet the way the fine bark mulch does.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 7:09PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

And the chips are big enough that they last longer than shredded mulch. A botanical garden in my area uses wood chips paths extensively. The other paths are often compacted stone chips and dust (fines?). That can be cement like.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 7:42PM
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Cypress mulch lasts 4xs+ longer than other types. (This is from field tests in the Houston area. *G*)

Also, you could do no-mow grass or thyme.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 4:40AM
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I have to agree with the shredded mulch suggestions. We have a narrow strip between house and property line that gets a fair amount of traffic and only a little sun. Considered but discarded hard surface options, finally settling on a thick layer of wood chips for a slightly curving walkway with native woodland plants on either side. It's working out very well and maybe it's just my imagination, but it seems a lot quieter now when walking that path.

(Only prob... ooch ... lem is that I love to ... ow ... go barefoot and the ... dang! ... holly tree is into it's annual leee ... leaf drop.)


    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 11:53PM
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echoes_or(Zone 3)

How about checking with local folks who do countertop work. You might be able to get scraps of granite or ??? for free then fit together like a jig saw puzzle. Somewhere I just have seen this done and it was beautiful and free... They have to dosomething with their scraps so why not give to you... Kinda likea mosaic effect... Good luck. The only thing I would think about is that when wet could be slick but maybe turn over and see what the rough side looks like and if you could enjoy that coloration.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 12:28PM
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Brent_In_NoVA(z7/6 VA)

I have been keeping an eye out for ideas on a couple paths that I would like to build. Mulch with a rock border to define the path is a likely candidate. That is mostly because I am cheap and I have access to lots of free mulch...but I don't want something that looks too cheap.

I have seen some wonderful pictures of paths made with broken concrete. I am not sure how easy it is to find free or low cost concrete pieces. I tried an Internet search of a couple phrases and I did not turn up too many examples. Below is page with a few examples of broken concrete projects.

- Brent

Here is a link that might be useful: Broken Concrete Projects

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 5:16PM
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stacyp9(5 Chicago)

Hi Libby,
One of the problems with the colored mulches is that they fade, fairly rapidly too. My neighbor's bright orange mulch faded to a weird pinkish orange in one season, by mid-August.
No path material is completely maintenance free, even mulch has to be replaced, usually every season. I would consider a pea gravel in a neutral color like buff. The helicopters etc will be much less noticeable if they land in that then if you pick a colored mulch or colored gravel.

good luck to you.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 12:06AM
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lazydaisy(z7 NTX)

I think the mulch path would work well too considering that you must have a source for it for your gardens.

After that's in place, you could make your own pour in place walking stones. It might take toting cement bags home though. Check out the Hypertufa forum. If you have a large leaves, well even small leaves, ferns, or any other type of texture, you can emboss those into a mixture which is somewhere between a concrete and hypertufa mixture. You could shape them by hand, engrave them or use some type of simple mold--or just dig a hole in the ground and mound it in place. There are some large leaf stepping stone examples in the GW forums also. Check out the Hypertufa and Garden Accoutrements forums for more details if interested.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 12:53AM
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Where I live, you can get all the free wood chip mulch you want from the city's compost site, either new or partly decomposed ( nicer and darker.) Maybe your city has such a program?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 8:29AM
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I am needing a path. I don't want loose stones/gravel, but am after an easy walking, no maintainance path that's not pavers and relatively cheap.

Now its only an idea at the moment. I am wondering if anyone has seen/done/walked barefoot on, a compacted roadbase path?

It flows onto paving at both ends and the colour is right for the scheme.

I do want a walkable surface that doesn't need watering.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 8:37AM
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hlechat(5 (the colder edge of 5 :-))

craigslist in your area lists free bricks, and if you keep an eye on it, from time to time, i bet someone will have pavers.

Also, agree, that you can make your own with concrete mix and have some fun with it.

Is your pathway in sun or shade or both?

I have used wood chips on mine, and love the look of it. I have three such pathways. Now, as for walkability, that would be a personal preference. If it gets a lot of use, pavers or concrete stones that you make are the best bet.

If light traffic, thyme is a great idea, as well as several other plants. Someone has even made a business of this:

Have fun with this project! I bet it will look great when you are done. :-)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 5:51PM
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