A Path, not a Sidewalk

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Not really a lazy alternative, but a simple solution for making a garden walk that's much easier to do than forms and poured concrete.

Garden styles show a marked trend to more casual landscapes where people really live in outdoor spaces. Many modern gardens contain kitchen herbs, swingsets, rose beds, pitcher’s mounds, perennial borders, all wound into a design of sorts. Most of us live far from the formal elements of entryway, foundation planting, and concern with views and vistas.    

What can keep this new landscape from design chaos? Often the answer is a simple path to join the areas together. Gravel washes, rocks can be costly or burdensome to handle, bricking takes forever. While I don’t like the idea of a sidewalk striping my garden, concrete appeals when handled this way: clear the path of weeds and dig out three inches. If you want a solid path, dig a channel. For stepping stones, dig a foot square hole, three inches deep. Take a step at a comfortable stride and do it again. Remember, you’re making a path, not a parking lot.  Fill the path or holes without using the traditional wooden forms for concrete. Make a batch of sand mix in your wheelbarrow. Add gray or blue paint to tone down its bright impact. Score the wet cement for better traction and texture, or let the kids put their hands (or feet) in the path for posterity. Stencil with leaves, or sink marbles in for decoration. Finally, let border plants and lawn grow right up to the path to soften it.  The result is a unifying design tool that’s inexpensive, and really works for your garden.

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