Vegetable Garden Pathways - Paving and Edging your Veggie Plot

We take a look at 3 easy to follow styles for your vegetable garden, with step-by-step design ideas for pathway layout, materials and planting.

vegetable garden pathways

1. Kitchen Garden/Potager

The potager garden as we know it derives from French ornamental vegetable gardens, dating back to the Gardens of the French Renaissance and Baroque Garden eras. Today, just as it was then, a potager is a kitchen garden where fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs are grown together to create a beautiful, and useful, space.

A key element of a potager garden is well defined spaces and clean lines. Garden pathways separate colourful, productive raised beds from walkways set out in geometric patterns. Planting beds can be diamond, rectangular, circular or square, but all must have a neatly maintained path between. Structural plants and hedgerows can also be used to organise the plot in an elegant and timeless manner. As a Tom Oder article suggests, “the potager should be an oasis, a healing place”.

The vegetable beds themselves should be raised for a potager garden look. Use either brick, stone or wooden edgings for the raised beds. Raising the beds will be helpful if you have poor soil quality and will also contribute to the overall effect of order and clarity which is so important to achieve this kitchen garden style. An added bonus is that you get some clearly marked and well drained plots on which to plan and plant an array of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

How to create a potager garden layout:

1. Firstly, mark out the raised bed shapes for your kitchen garden, using poles and string, or non-toxic biodegradable garden spray paint e.g. Johnsons Grass Graffiti from Amazon. Aim for geometric shapes and make walkways wide enough to work from between the beds - at least 3 feet wide.

2. Add your chosen raised beds; our recommendation is the Rowlinson Alderley Grey Raised Planter. Adding longer lasting structures and edging such as stone or brick can also keep the beds organised and hassle-free for years to come.

3. Next, create your pathways by adding grass, gravel or paving. We love stone edging paired with brick pathways for a potager feel. Grass can look lovely but can also become muddy very easily depending on your climate and how much the walkways will be utilised. Gravel may need some occasional weeding. To really commit to your kitchen garden, a combination of paving and gravel can look gloriously quaint.

Get the look

Forest Caledonian Raised Beds Pea Gravel Grey Scallop Edging Limestone Paving Slabs

2. The Contemporary Vegetable Garden

Not everybody is interested in a cottage garden feel. If you crave a sleek, modern outdoor space, but still want the luxury of having herbs and vegetables on your back doorstep, then a contemporary veggie plot is for you.

There’s no reason why more contemporary materials and styles can’t work in perfect harmony with horticulture. You don’t have to sacrifice growing your own to have an enviable backyard oasis. The same principles apply - choose your shapes, raise the beds and mark out the pathways. Then it’s all down to colour and texture with your choice of materials and planting.

How to create a contemporary vegetable garden:

1. Plan your raised beds around your seating areas or water features. Contemporary gardens have an emphasis on minimalism and calm outdoor rooms. Raised beds can create L shapes around the different defined areas of your garden or can be placed in slim linear beds to brighten up more structural aspects of the garden such as walls or outbuildings.

2. Make raised beds slightly taller and more chunky than usual raised beds and build them from smooth and solid materials in either very pale or very dark colours. Man made materials offer a pristine effect and can be set off by choosing striking structural plants. Repeat patterns in your planting will create a smart and serene atmosphere.

3. A key aspect of contemporary garden design is contrast. This can be achieved with colours and materials, for instance offsetting the green of your plants with white structural elements.

Some ideas might be: pale limestone pathways with black raised bed edging and bright green rows of herbs; heather blue slate with white pavers and emerald snake plants; deep fuschia flowers against black polished pebbles and smooth Ecoscape UK Composite Fencing Board Kit.

Get the look

Black polished pebbles Cedar fencing White porcelain paving Heather blue slate

3. Herb spirals

If you read the above and thought it all sounded just too much like hard work, consider a herb garden spiral. These can be added to any type, shape or size of garden, barely interfering with what’s already there - but adding the all important loveliness that comes with growing your own fragrant and beautiful herb garden.

A herb spiral garden is easily created in a small area and has opportunities to personalise the look through the stone walling and herbs you choose. Their genius doesn’t stop there though! Herb spirals create various microclimates within them to accommodate a wider variety of herbs in your space - herbs at the top of the spiral will have more drainage and sun exposure while at the bottom it will be more shaded and moist! They are also cost effective, provide important habitats, are easy to maintain and optimise water efficiency - what’s not to like?!

How to create a herb spiral

1. Start by deciding the area you will use - this can be small or large as the herb garden can spiral up as tall as you like and therefore fit into a relatively small area. For a six foot spiral, plan for at least 3 levels, with 12-15 inch wide beds. Mark out your area using lawn spray paint.

2. Stack your stones or bricks from the bottom perimeter, working from the outside in and up. Build up your inner levels by adding second and third layers of stones. Fill up the interior with soil as you go to add support.

3. You might also consider adding a pond to the bottom of your spiral, where you can grow watercress.

Get the look

Yorkstone Rocks Red Sandstone Rocks Cotswold Stone Rocks Steel water bowl pond