Garden Paths: Beginner Gardening Tips : Part 1

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This is Part 1 of a series of Articles I will be writing about Garden Paths. Future Articles will go into more detail around specific paths for various Garden styles.

If you have read one of those gardening books that gave you some tips on gardening design, you have probably realized that gardening is basically a creative art. Just like any other creative art, it often has a starting point of interest that leads to other amassing delights.

The gardener must have a clear picture in his/ her mind what the whole garden should look like once the building process is complete. The picture should include garden paths, grass tree and shrub layouts, flower beds and much more.

So You Need Some Garden Paths:

So you want a garden path, but you’re not quite sure where or how to begin. It really isn’t that difficult, it is possible to make one over the weekend, or complete one in the evening if you started making it early. The time it takes depends on how prepared you are, the size of the path and the materials you have decided to use.

One may argue that garden paths designs and gardening, in general, is perceived as the work of experts, landscape designers, landscape architects or garden designers but this is not always not the case.

Research shows that some of the most beautiful gardens in the world were in fact not designed by experts. If you want to change the look of your garden never hesitate, here are beginner gardening tips for spectacular garden paths

Set The Mood for Your Garden:

The type of garden path you will create will depend on the kind of garden you are developing. Do you want your garden to have a formal, informal or cottage look? Remember in most cases this is the pass way leading from the street to your front door. It is thus the place where you begin to show your style and individuality.

The path should be customized to meet your preferences and tastes. To make it easy to set the mood for your garden path, first think how you would like someone else to view and move through the garden. Try to match the path to your garden and home. For instance, if you desire a path for a cottage garden in the country, old bricks, stone, grass, pebbles or gravel will all work fine.

But if you are looking for something contemporary or formal newer bricks, paving, stepping stones will all work just fine.

Choose The Location Of Your Garden paths:

Garden paths should be inviting and should allow you to guide those using them in the direction you wish them to go. In a cottage garden this might mean meandering the paths through the garden, where visitors can lap up the beauty of annual and perennial flowers, or take in the intoxication perfume of roses, lavender and fragrant herbs. Paths need to lead to a focal point.

This might simply be your front door, as is often the case in formal gardens, or it might be to an arbor or wishing well or simply a beautiful statue. Whatever reason a garden path should add to the landscape and beauty of the garden and subsequently help you direct visitors in the direction you wish them to head.

Decide The Layout Of The Path:

Once you have decided on the location of the path, you must than choose the layout of the path. Usually, gently meandering lines are more visual and appealing in an informal setting. Whereas in a cottage garden the paths should be curved and adventurous. Visitors should be feeling excited as to what will be around the next corner.

When you have decided the best style of path for your particular garden you can than decide which materials to build it out of.

Choose The Material:

Garden paths can be constructed using a great variety of different types of materials. As mentioned above this could be paving, stones, gravel, grass, stepping stones or various other mediums.

The type of material you decide on will obviously depend on the garden style you have chosen. I have seen beautiful cottage garden paths that curve into the distance, inviting the visitor to explore further. These paths are often constructed from stones or paving that have gaps around them, where wonderful prostrate growing, aromatic herbs have been lovingly planted.

Herbs such as orange or lemon thyme, will release their incredible fragrances with every step the visitor takes. These adventurous cottage garden paths delight the senses, providing the visitor with both visual and sensual experiences.

Constructing your Garden path:

However, just like when building the initial garden, you need to prepare the area first. Once you have chosen the layout for your path, and the materials you wish to build it from, you will need to make sure you have the area adequately drained. Any potential water issues must be taken away from the direction of the house,and either into the garden beds or to the drains that go to the road.

You will need to place some sort of edging on the sides of your path. This might be something as simple as digging the edge with a sharp spade or placing bricks or concrete blocks on their sides. In more modern gardens I have seen people use metal or plastic strips.

Other forms of edging include treated timber, concrete or stones. Rocks and stones can be just simply laid out one next to the other, or if flat, they can be stacked in a low dry wall style. The possibilities are endless.

A sound foundation is also vital. Even if it’s just a simple path you will need a generous layer of a foundation material laid down first. Without this you may end up with a muddy area to deal with during wet weather, making the whole garden look and feel unpleasant.

The type of gravel material you will need to use will depend on your soil type and the sort of path you hope to construct. However, most paths require some sort of compacting gravel to be laid down first and than compressed using a compacting tool.

Lastly, your garden path may also require amenities like lighting. Adding these features to your garden will add to its beauty making it a fascinating place to traverse through both night and day.

Final Thoughts:

Remember however to keep your construction techniques manageable. As a beginner gardener you don’t want to take on a project that is usually only completed by experts. You may be taking on something bigger than you are able to handle. You should also decide on a budget and stick to it.

This is part one of my garden path series. Look out for further segments where I will go into more detail on specific garden styles.

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Should you wish to ask me a question, or discuss your own experiences, please leave comments in the box provided below.

Happy Gardening . Jim






Jim Kulk


  1. As a keen gardener (or trying to be one) myself, you have some good and creative ideas, and i am sure your gardens are beautiful, Keep the posts coming in as they are very helpful.


  2. I did not know I had to keep the area properly drained before constructing my garden. It would be quite a shame to run into a big old puddle of water with no where to go. That is just a headache I do not want in my life.

    I do have a question though. When the plants inevitably overgrow into the garden path, how much should I cut back? I do not want to trim them way back and I also do not want to ruin the ambiance of my garden, so I would like to hear what you recommend. I look forward to reading your response.

    Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

    • Hi Alex. This will depend on what sort of plants you have in you garden. Some paths simply run through lawns, so you won’t have much of an issue there. Other paths meander through cottage gardens.These paths are usually edged by small flowering annuals that tend to die off each year, so you simply pull them out and replace. Some paths may be edged my smaller perennial plants. Most of these can be simply cut back after flowering has finished to below the flowering levels. If you have your paths hedged, then you just need to go over them with a hedger a few times a year to keep them neat. I hope this helps you, should you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Happy Gardening Jim

  3. You know this is actually surprisingly helpful because I have a portion in front of my house with nothing in it that would actually be perfect for gardening, but I never knew the best way to actually go about doing it. I like how you actually make it easy and give step by step instructions. Lol guess now I’ll have to stop procrastinating and actually get started on it.

    • Thanks Jasmere. If I have helped you in some small way, then I’m happy. Please keep an eye open for my future articles. Jim

  4. Jim, Love your article for beginners. I love to see gardens and am envious of anyone with a green thumb. I personally have struggled trying to grow anything. I will return and read more of your articles and try some of your guidelines. Easy to follow! Thank you

    • Thank you Paulette. Just remember that no one is born with a green thump and any one can become a good gardener. It only takes a willingness to want to learn. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. All the best.Jim

  5. I’ve an odd-shaped garden (due to odd land division) and have been thinking about putting in a path for a while. I’m more a dabbler than a ‘keen’ gardener and it’s only a small garden so I don’t want to get a ‘proper’ gardener in to do a path.
    That’s given me a lot to think about and I’m thinking now that it’s something I could do myself. Look forward to Part 2.

    • Hi Ian. There’s a lot of fun to be had constructing your own garden and paths. I hope to have part 2 available for you within the next few weeks. Jim

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