Affordable Garden Path Ideas
Required Tools for this Project
- Drywall saw
- Garden rake
Tips for Building Mulch and Gravel Paths
- Rent a gas-powered sod cutter to remove grass if the path is long. For short paths, use a garden spade to slice off the sod.
- Set edging so it ends up about an inch above the fill material.
- Use a spacer stick cut to the width of the garden path as a guide when you set the edging or border. You won't have to keep pulling out the tape measure to make sure the edges run parallel.
- Cover the soil with landscape fabric to deter weeds and prevent the fill material from mixing with the soil. Don't use plastic. It'll catch water and create a soggy path.
- Have gravel delivered, especially if you need more than a half ton.
- If you want a path that's firm enough to roll a wheelbarrow on, use crushed stone and tamp it after leveling it. (Pea rock or other rounded stone won't compact.) Use a hand tamper for short paths. Rent a vibrating-plate tamper for long paths.
Borders and Edging
- Plastic landscape edging is cheap. And it's fast and easy to install. If you object to the look of the rounded top edge, hide it with a border of plants.
- Steel or aluminum edging forms a crisp edge that gives the path a neat appearance. It costs more than plastic, though, and is less forgiving on sloped terrain.
- Brick and stone borders are attractive and versatile, but they're more expensive and a lot more work to install.
- Concrete edging is less expensive than brick or stone but has the same advantages. Newer types that look like random pieces of tumbled stone are a great lower-cost alternative to a real stone border.
- Landscape timbers are an economical alternative to stone or brick borders. They're especially useful for building shallow steps on gradually sloping terrain.
Trace the Stone
Remove the Sod
Tips for Building a Stepping-Stone Path
- Arrange stones so the distance from the center of one to the center of the next one is 20 to 24 in.
- Set the stones in place and cut around them with a spade or rock saw. Then lift the stone and dig out the grass and a little soil.
- Spread a 1/2- to 1-in.-thick layer of sand under the stone if you want to make leveling the stones easier. Sand is easier to work with than soil. A 60-lb. bag of sand is enough for about four to six stones.
- Set the top of the stepping-stones about 1 in. above the soil level. This will give you a dry place to step while still allowing you to run a lawn mower over the path.
Tips for Building a Planted Path
- Arrange the stones along the walkway, leaving at least 4 in. between them for plants. Then cut along the edge of the stones with a flat spade to outline the path.
- Slice off a layer of sod and soil about 1-1/2 in. deep.
- Spread a 1/2-in. layer of sand. This will allow the stones to settle in slightly and keep them from rocking.
- Choose plants that will stand up to traffic and grow in the available light and soil type.
- Water the new plants frequently for the first few months until the plants are well-established.
- Pull weeds and grass from between the stones every few weeks to prevent them from overrunning the plants.