Up the Garden PathAlison Marsden
March is a great month to consider layout and planting changes to your garden before the summer arrives – or so we hope! One of the elements of a garden that it is easy to overlook when we are dreaming of a beautiful space to sit or borders full of colour, is the garden path. So often I see gardens with paths added as an afterthought and all too frequently these are narrow, slabbed and straight, right up the middle. This is rarely makes the best of the space in a smallish garden and equally rarely has any relationship to the design and style of the rest of the space. What a missed opportunity and so simple to address if you consider paths as a contributor to the overall design and not a necessary evil. Like any hard landscaping, a path has three key attributes: location, size & shape and material.
Laying a path along one side of the garden, either behind or in front of a deep border, can leave the centre of the garden open and allow one single, larger area of lawn, valuable where space is limited.
Generally advice is that any path should be at least 80cm wide, more if you may walk two-abreast or use a wheelchair. A path needs a solid foundation layer and drainage and the surface should firm and level. This does not rule out a loose material like gravel as long as it is not too deep and tamped down. The shape question is one of straight or curving and the answer depends on your garden style. A curved path can look more informal and a straight path can provide a touch of structure.
The choice of material is also primarily for stylistic reasons. Using the same paving as a patio gives consistency in the design. Smooth and sleek surfaces suit a contemporary garden (as long they are not slippery), as do black or white materials. Reclaimed bricks and small pavers are reminiscent of a cottage garden. Gravel can recall a coastal environment and wood or bark chippings suggest that you are entering a natural, woodland scene.
So treat your garden to a carefully thought out path and make it a design asset as well as a functional necessity.
Happy Gardening from Alison
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