Thursday, December 29, 2005

Creating Paths: Part One Of Garden Essentials

There are three essential areas to every garden: paths, surfaces, and boundaries. Here is the first article on garden essential, which covers creating paths for your garden.

You have several options for creating paths in your garden. Unless you have a very tiny garden, a path really is necessary to allow people, including you, to get from one area of your garden to another. People need to be able to walk the garden and enjoy everything, and you need to be able to examine the garden and work in it without trying to avoid your plants. We will go over five options for your garden paths, from the easiest to set up and maintain to the most difficult.

The easiest way to create a path in your garden is to use large mulch chips or bark chips. Before you decide on the path, you need to map it out. Use tools or environmentally-friendly paint to mark where the path will go. Then you will need to measure the area. If you want to use bark chips, you will need to go to a home supply store or a nursery. They will have bark chips in huge bags. You can look at the different types although there will not be much decision for you, however, as bark chips are pretty simple. You will need to multiply the length of your path by the width of the path. That will give you the square feet (or meters) that you will need to cover. You should be able to look on the bags of chips to determine how much you will need. Simply purchase the chips, go home, and pour the chips on the path.

Another simple way to create a path is to use steppingstones. There are infinite possibilities here as you can get steppingstones at the dollar store or at high-end retailers. You will need to determine your budget. Then go back to the yard and where you will have the path. Step off the area or use a basic measurement. You need the steppingstones alternating and no more than two feet apart. Make sure that you purchase the correct number of stones. Then you will dig a small recessed area that is one to two inches deep. Put down your stones and pat the dirt around them. Voila! Your path is ready.

Gravel is another choice for your garden path. Although it is not the most attractive option, it is not particularly expensive, especially if you have a quarry in your area. The process for determining the amount of gravel you need and putting it into the path is essentially the same as for the bark chips. You will need to consider the types of gravel a little more carefully. As a general rule, finely ground stone is easier to walk on and looks better, but you will have to put it down more often as it will blow away. If no one will be running in your garden with bare feet, then larger pieces of gravel will be easier to maintain.

An less often considered option, but one that looks far more elegant, is the paving stone. These stones are basically interlocking tiles that you will put down in the area where you will have your path. You can put paving stones over areas that are gravel, sand, or dirt. You may find it necessary to move backward with paving stones and find the stones first and then measure out your path. Cutting paving stones is a task that you probably do not want to undertake. When you get your stones, plan to spend an entire Saturday creating the path. Take the time to put the tiles down evenly, and you will have a beautiful garden.

These path options are only a few of the ones you will find on the market. If you cannot decide, go with something inexpensive now and move up later when you make a final decision. A path helps keep your garden free from trampling and will show others that the garden is there for their enjoyment. You will enjoy walking through the little bit of nature you have created and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of your garden.

By Julia Mercer

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