Garden Paths

Garden Paths

“A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape.”  
 Rebecca SolnitWanderlust: A History of Walking

When we design and create our gardens there are many elements to consider, and one of them is the shape of the path and our choice of materials. A path can draw a viewer into your garden, offer a sense of mystery at what lies beyond.

You can almost feel this child’s curiosity about what lies down the path beyond the gate.

Here we have two directions the walker can take…….One part of the path is larger stone that has been mortered into place whereas the other path has stone informally placed.

Here the path guides our view straight ahed to a beautiful garden beyond, yet the path makes a turn to the right asking the viewer to surely wonder what could possibly be around the bend.

I like how this garden path has a seat to draw you forward, yet the path continues beyond, asking you to make a choice…..sit, or move ahead because curiosity has gotten the better of you.


“A garden path,’ write the landscape architects Charles W. Moore, William J. Mitchell, and William Turnbull, ‘can become the thread of a plot, connecting moments and incidents into a narrative. The narrative structure might be a simple chain of events with a beginning, middle, and end. It might be embellished with diversions, digressions, and picaresque twists, be accompanied by parallel ways (subplots), or deceptively fork into blind alleys like the althernative scenerios explored in a detective novel.   Rebecca SolnitWanderlust: A History of Walking

 In other words, our gardens and theirs paths tell a story, our story. There are so many materials to choose from and our choices may be based on purely aesthetic reasons, although practicality can have it’s place in our decision making……will the area receive a lot of traffic? Is traction on our chosen surface an issue? Is it permeable if there are water or drainage issues. How do we want it to feel underfoot? Cost? 

There are so many choices for not just the form of your path, but also what material to construct the path. Here we have one of the simplest yet always beautiful….grass, wonderful soft grass underfoot.

Here we still have grass, but modified by a surround of gravel. The grass circles  add interest and whimsy.

The stone path to the front door has a random pattern with grass in between to soften the edges of the large stone pieces.

No grass in the path, just all around! Here symmetrically placed stones are placed on a gravel bed with metal edging to keep the stone in place. The stone and gravel relates to the front entrance to the home….very organic.

Large stone placed with a moss growing in between. Any green between the stone in the path greatly softens the image. Imagine this without it and the total effect would not be at all as pleasant.

I like how this path, although short, still has curves. It also illustrates how even in a shorter distance, there can still be some mystery before arrival at the door or garden gate.

This path is less formal than the one above. Again, the use of metal edging to keep gravel from migrating into the garden beds. The edging also provides a clean edge despite the informality.

A pretty easy path to construct…..lay the stones down and settle them into the dirt.

A combination of timber and smaller stone creates a path perfect for this cottage garden. The choice of no edging allows the lower growing plants to soften the edges.

This formal path is glorious lined with iris.

The mass of large stone is balanced by the expanse of grass.

Very formal and the layed to intentionally draw the eye to the destination quickly.

If you have a flair for the dramatic and are so inclined, you can create a true work of garden path art. Beautiful.

Good ole brick always works! I like how just before you reach the stairs to the deck, it changes to a stone stoop.

Another brick path, this one a bit more curvy and having a border of brick on edge.

I have always enjoyed walking through gardens that have gravel paths because I love the sound underfoot. This one is lovely with the large rocks that serve as a border and with the foreground plants spilling into the path.

This path is wide and beautifully constructed. Like pieces of a puzzle, the path draws your eye first of all down to admire it, and then up and forward towards your destination.

Rocks placed on top of a mulch base.

Here the stones are enhanced by creeping time in between. The plants also help hold the stones in place.

A mix of sizes, shapes and types of stone lend interest and fun to this path and garden.

Paved and unpaved stones on a bed or river rock. Both rock and upright stone serve as edging.

Although narrow, and more of a garden bed edging, it can also serve as a path. I am sure it took a lot of time and patience to construct this path of river rock.

Here granite and brick mix eloquently.

A simple gravel path lined with rocks.

Heavy stone and rock path with slight curved effect lends good visual weight to this colorful and tightly packed garden.

Simple and pleasing to the eye.

Interesting take on using both a formal shape and an informal shaped stone in a formal garden.

I love this look. There really is not a lot of room to place a flower or shrub border, and this makes a far more interesting path than just stone along would.

This is beautifully done. Most side yard paths follow a pretty straight line. This is a garden space on to itself. Well done!

An interesting example as seen from above that illustrates symmetry in it’s well chosen choice of materials for this small garden space. The wide path is almost as wide as the garden space itself.


The choices are endless. You can use wood, recycled cement, mosaic tiles in addition to the above to make your garden path. I hope you enjoyed these ideas and hopefully a bit of inspiration.

I look forward to sharing some exciting finds with you all next week, plus some photos of another new rather large pocket garden. We should be done with it tomorrow and I can take some photos…..until then, I hope you all are enjoying your weekend. Laters, charisse



  1. I absolutely love the diamond grass path, guess you have to leave gaps for the grass, would it be hard 59 look after? Do you give advice if I was to send a photo, we Have started on our front and it is beginning to look lovely but there is something missing and not sure what this is. Thanks really enjoyed the gardens.

    • HI Mary, I apologize for the late response to your inquiry. I find that a weed whacker takes care of paths and edging fairly easily on garden paths like this one that you like. In my paths we sunk the paving stones to the level of the grass over a bed of sand and/or some fine gravel, and I could just mow over them. Every once in a while, if the voles had a fun winter, we might have to make adjustments.If you are still working on your front and want to send a photo for me to look at and shoot some ideas your way I would be happy to. I promise it will not take me so long to respond. You can email them to me at the contact email address. laters, charisse

  2. I love the way you always find a special ‘niche’ to share. This was wonderful.

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