Creating a new garden path can be a great way to refresh your garden. Great paths can be both practical and attractive. But for best results, it is important to choose materials carefully. In an organic garden, we would always recommend that with garden path ideas, as with other decisions I your garden, you try to make a choice that is as eco-friendly as possible. Here are our top garden path ideas:
A Bark/ Wood Chip Path
One of the simplest and cheapest ways to make a new garden path is with a mulch material like bark or wood chip. This can be a great idea for an eco-friendly garden. The material will, of course, break down over time. But it can be replenished. And if you have a shredder, it can perhaps even be replenished with materials gathered from your very own garden. Remember, the broken down material from the path could also make a good mulch for your garden.
Rammed Earth Garden Path
Usually, wood chip and other mulch paths are simply made by removing turf if necessary, creating path edging, then tossing down the material. But one other option is to prepare the surface first. One way to prepare the surface is to lay a membrane, to stop weeds growing through and reduce waterlogging. But one other, more eco-friendly option for certain situations is to prepare the pathway by compacting the soil below. Rammed earth creates an extremely stable and smooth surface that can then be topped with other materials if you wish.
Reclaimed Gravel Garden Path
A gravel path is another common, and often sensible, option for a garden path. Gravel or stone chip pathways will, of course, last longer than a mulch path. But new gravel or similar are of course mined in invasive ways. So these are not an eco friendly solution. Fortunately, reclaimed gravels or more eco-friendly byproducts can be used to make paths in your garden. And these can be a more more sustainable choice. Gravel can be laid loose, or compacted to give a much more stable and durable surface.
Stone Garden Path
Stone can be another excellent, enduring option for a garden path. You could opt for natural rocks embedded like cobble stones, small pebbles or river rocks, or large paving slabs. These can form a continuous surface or be spaced so as to allow for low-growing plants to grow in between. If you do wish to choose larger slabs, then do consider reclaimed options whenever possible to reduce the environmental impact of your garden choices. One thing to note about stone is it is excellent at catching and storing energy – it has good thermal mass and is therefore used in passive solar design.
Reclaimed Brick Garden Path
When looking at reclaimed materials, gravel is not, of course, the only option. Bricks can look very good, and be readily available. Bricks can be laid in a range of different patterns to create different effects for a garden path. You can lay them straight, in squares, like tiles, or in a herringbone pattern, for example. You might even seek out several different types of reclaimed bricks to create an interesting ornamental pattern for your garden path. Brick also has high thermal mass, and so can help by staving off frost in the area immediately around it.
Concrete is a popular option for garden paths that will last. But choosing concrete is not usually a very eco-friendly option. In fact, the concrete industry is one of the four most polluting industries on the planet. If you need a hardy, smooth, flat and accessible path, then consider opting for limecrete rather than concrete, or for an eco-concrete with a high proportion of recycled materials mixed in. These materials, like the above, can help keep temperatures around them more stable, since they have good thermal mass.
If you want to have some fun and be a bit more creative when making a garden path, then you might want to consider making some form of mosaic. Certain materials (glass bottles for example) might be embedded in the soil to create a mosaic-like effect. Or you might embed any number of natural or reclaimed materials into a clay-based or lime mortar. There are a wide range of fun patterns and pieces of garden art that you could create.
The above are just a few of the many options for garden path that you could consider. Do you have your own ideas? How did you create the paths in your garden? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.