Paths

path made from brick and old slabs of varying dimensions
As with any element in the garden, the path should integrate with everything else – rustic brickwork looks wonderful as a cottage garden path but would look very out of place in a contemporary urban setting.

Path Materials

small pathway edged with clay tilesWhatever material you use it needs to be sympathetic to its surroundings – and these surroundings extend beyond the boundaries of the garden. For example, if you are using brick, choose the colour that is traditionally used in your local area – red, grey or yellow – use the correct one and it will look perfectly at home, use an inappropriate one and it will look wrong for several years until it mellows.The same is true of stone and gravel.
In an established garden it is nice to be able to use recycled or reclaimed materials that already have some age to them; they will quickly settle in but can be an expensive option. Many of the paving companies have recognised this and are now making good copies of the originals. Marshalls Paving, Stoneage and Bradstone all have good ranges.

The Route

pathway meanders through olive groveWhen you are making a new path it is worth putting some thought into its route. There is no point in having it meander through the shrubbery if it should really be a direct route between the house and the garage – on a wet winter’s day no one wants a detour – they’ll just walk across the lawn or push through the border, eventually creating a less than attractive rabbit run. In architectural terms these chosen routes are known as ‘lines of desire‘ and it is better to shape the garden round them than try to adapt people’s behaviour to an impractical design.

grass pathway between trees and borders
Practicality is as important as aesthetics when it comes to paths – it’s pointless laying a wonderful York stone path if its route is overhung with trees and it becomes dangerously slippery in the winter, or having a gravel path leading right up to the front door with the result that anyone wearing shoes with deep treads tramps gravel into the house.
Choosing the right material for your path is a important as your choice of plants for a border, but get it right and it will be far more than the route from A to B.

modern angular and expensive limestone path

A contemporary and expensive path made from limestone.

track with grass in the centre suitable for walking or carsA  country driveway  doesn’t need to be all hard surface – a central grass strip makes it a much more discreet entrance.

a handmade path in a cottage gardenPaths need not cost money – if you have stony soil that you need to clear, have a bucket to hand and once it is full  of stones spread them on the path for an informal hard surface.

distant gat as viewed down a pathway with wisteria hangingA driveway is beautiful as well as utilitarian with its granite sett surface leading to ornamental metal gates overhung by magnificent wisteria.

contemporary garden with cobbled stepsA contemporary use of traditional stone gives this stepped terrace texture and interest.

hoggin garden pathPath surfaces can vary according to the amount of use – in this garden the much-visited central path down the borders is made of ‘hoggin’ (a compactable gravel and clay mix) but opens up onto a wider grass path at the end of the borders.

The following posts on the blog provide further inspiration:

Paths

perovskia-frames-pathway cornus-aside-garden-path path-leads-into-the-distance-at-Parhamgarden-path-lined-with-buxus water feature at end of garden path  bright-white-silver-birch-with-scrubbed-bark-aside-garden-pathcrushed-gravel-path hampton-court-show-garden-path step this pathway through the aliumsechinacea-purpurea-aside-garden-path bespoke-tiles-on-garden-path block-paved-garden-path