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Planning and Building a Garden Path: Enhancing the Beauty of Your Landscape

A garden path can add a rustic appeal to your garden and make it feel more welcoming. A well-designed pathway can effectively guide foot traffic through the garden. A pathway should blend harmoniously with its surroundings, should be smooth to walk on and remain dry, particularly during the rainy season. Follow these steps to build a stunning garden path.

Explore Different Ideas

Research different pathway design styles that you find appealing. Decide if you want to structure your path with clear borders or want to build a curved pathway. Ideally, a garden pathway should be wide enough to accommodate at least three individuals walking side by side. The width of a pathway can be adjusted based on the anticipated foot traffic in your garden.

Choose the Right Material for Your Path

Some popular materials for walkways include loose gravel, sturdy stone, and stamped concrete. When choosing a material for your walkway, make sure it is safe to walk on and blends with your home’s architecture.

Plot Your Path

Planning a garden pathway isn't as straightforward as you might think. You may have to walk over the same patch of grass for days to understand your usual walking patterns and determine the optimal location for your path. Many homeowners begin by designing the main/primary path that connects to the street, house, or garage. This path can be used to move between the house and the garage, or from the garage to the house and eventually to the street. A secondary path diverges from the primary path and typically stretches further into the landscape, possibly leading to a vegetable garden or a secluded bench. Secondary paths usually receive less foot traffic than primary paths and can therefore be designed to be narrower and less conspicuous. You can incorporate subtle curves into your primary path to give it a more casual look.

pebble path amongst lush green plants

Figure Out How Many Square Feet the Path Will Be

Estimate the amount of material required. If you're utilizing naturally sourced materials such as stones, continue gathering and arranging them on the intended path until you have enough. If you intend to use pavers, use a material calculator to determine the quantity you need. Order 10 percent more than the number of pavers required to accommodate potential waste. A bag of sand contains about 6-7 square feet of 1-inch-thick sand. Remember to check the label to get precise measurements. To determine the number of bags needed, divide the total square footage by 6 or 7. Order additional sand for leveling the pathway and filling the gaps between the stones. Mortar sand, which has a finer texture than all-purpose sand, is ideal for filling in the joints, particularly the narrow ones. If you are having difficulty calculating how long and wide your garden path should be, consult a landscaping service in Healdsburg.

Before Starting to Dig, Make Sure There Are No Utility or Irrigation Lines in the Area

Remember to call your local utility company's "Call Before You Dig" number, especially if you plan to add a compacted base and will be digging deep. Remember, it's up to you to identify your irrigation lines.

Remove the Existing Sod and Soil

When deciding how deep to dig, consider the thickness of the paving material you're using. Consider a depth of roughly 3 inches, (given that you are using 1-inch sand and approximately 2 ⅜-inch thick pavers) to account for the minor settling of the sand when the pavers are pressed into it. Remove the excavated soil and debris to ensure proper drainage. Avoid piling it up around the pathway.

Make Sure the Soil Beneath is Slightly Damp and Compact It

If you want to place your path directly next to your home, check the gradient and make sure water drains away from the foundation. Ideally, there should be a ¼-inch decline for every foot. Make any necessary adjustments to the slope.

Place At Least Two Pipes Directly on The Compacted Soil

Position the pipes at a distance from each other and ensure they are parallel. Distribute damp, but not overly wet sand, between the pipes. Using a shovel and rake, smooth out. Drag the straight wooden piece over the pipes multiple times until the sand is completely level. Repeat this process for the entire area. Once done, take out the pipes and fill the resulting grooves with sand. Use a square trowel to even out these filled sections. Don't walk on the leveled sand.

Place the Pavers

Position the pavers on the sand. Avoid dragging them across the sand. Use the already placed pavers as reference points for the placement of subsequent ones. Trim the pavers as necessary.

Compact the Pavers

For larger surfaces, use a plate compactor to ensure there are no potential tripping hazards. When working on smaller areas, jump up and down on the pavers to level them. Make at least four passes over each paver, beginning from the pavement's exterior and moving inwards towards the edges. Next, compact in a back-and-forth motion similar to how you'd mow a lawn. Should you notice any cracked or chipped pavers, feel free to replace them. Fine-tune the joints as needed. Using a large screwdriver, align the spaces between pavers.

Spread Dry Joint Sand Over the Surface

Gently compact the sand into the joints of the pavers using a vibratory plate compactor. There should be a protective layer between the compactor and the pavers or they can scuff, chip or break. It will require multiple passes to adequately fill the joints with sand. Once compacted, the sand within the joints may settle, especially after several bouts of rainfall. Add more sand to fill these joints. Sweep away any surplus sand and apply a sealer. Want to spruce up your landscape? Let Gardenworks help. Our landscaping experts have years of experience managing complex landscaping projects. To consult one of them, call 707-857-2050.


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