When creating your garden, thought needs to be given to how you will make your way around – ideally without cutting across the lawn. As much as a quick tiptoe over the grass seems like a perfectly good option when the weather is dry, who wants to get wet slippers when quickly sneaking out to the shed during the colder months or after a rain shower?
Although adding a stylish pathway to your garden seems such a simple idea in theory, in practice, the wrong style of path can break up the line of a garden and spoil the finished appearance.
A pathway down the centre of the lawn, will divide the garden in half resulting in a constant comparison of symmetry between the two halves. On the other hand, a pathway directly to your shed might be perfectly practical, but visually, it will draw your eye to the shed, so unless you have a wonderfully attractive shed, do you really want this to be the main focal
point in your garden? There is a fine balance between creating the most beautiful snaking path and one which is boringly practical. With a curvy path, even with the best intentions, you will start to cut corners over time just to get there quicker, but a straight to the point path will often spoil the visual impact of the garden.
So, what’s the best approach?
First and foremost, make a note of the areas of the garden you need to navigate between. This might be from indoors to the shed, a stylish seating area further down the garden or perhaps a lovely gazebo or summerhouse?
What’s the style of your garden? Do you have gentle curve or more formal straight lines? Try and keep with the current style to avoid a complete contrast.
For soft, flowing garden styles, consider a gently ‘S’ shaped path that meanders through the garden. Avoid making the curves too deep as you will be tempted to cut across, defeating the object of having the path in the first place. The inward curves also provide opportunities to introduce additional planting beds to make the walk become a ‘journey’ through the garden. A subtle, elongated ‘C’ shaped path also works well and the back-bone of the ‘C’ can also double up as an edge to planting borders which helps to ensure these retain their shape. The ideal choice of material for curved pathways is cobble setts or clay pavers as these can be easily crafted to follow the flowing curved shapes. Alternatively, consider edging a curves path with cobble setts and fill the centre of the path with a decorative stone for a more economical option. Finish the look by edging other planting beds in the garden with the same cobble sett edge as this not only ties the style together, but it also ensures you can mow straight over the grass and the cobble setts without needing to worry about edging the lawn with an edging spade.
If the garden allows, consider having the path make its way around the back of a planting bed in places to avoid uniformity and create some intrigue. If you cannot see the entire route of the path, this makes the garden far more interesting.
For a more informal approach, stepping stones may be used to create a practical pathway that is much more subtle and easy on the eye. It is often asked how far apart stepping stones should be positioned and so often, they are placed too far apart requiring you to leap between them. Instead, they should ideally be positioned a normal stride apart, so this would typically be around 15-20cm gap between the end of one stone and the start of the next. To work out the number you need, take the size of the stepping stone, add 15 or 20cm onto each measurement. Then measure the length of the area where the path is to run and then divide this down by the measurement of the stepping stone + gap combined. This will give you the rough quantity, but as always, add on a few more for good measure.
If your garden has a more structured, angled shape, then consider making a stepped shaped pathway using paving either as a continuous run, or spaced within the lawn. Try to run it either along one side of the garden or another option is to run a straight path with spaced slabs positioned a third across your lawn. This then becomes a style feature rather than dividing the garden up.
If you require your pathway to split into different directions to access the shed and the summerhouse for example, then with a soft, curved path, create organic lines that run through the garden and branch off accordingly. With a straight, formal garden, try to keep to using the same right angles of the design and again, branch off from the main path.
Other ideas are to create pathways using different materials to add more interest. For example, you could have a clay brick pathway in one area and a gravel path interspersed with occasion slabs in another area. Always try to use the same materials elsewhere in the garden to bring them into the design for a well-planned appearance.
We hope these ideas have provided you with some inspiration, but feel free to contact us for more advice.