Designing Your Garden

Designing Your Garden
by Kent Higgins

The walkways you install into your landscape can make your garden more accessible, retain its beauty, and ad to the overall design. They are an integral part of your garden’s look and feel. Functionally, walkways offer a path through your garden that allow people to traverse them without disturbing the plants, grass, and other things you’ve set out for them to enjoy. It doesn’t take long for the places where people often tread to start to look trampled and faded if there are no walkways to protect it.

The beauty of walkways comes from the aesthetic mix of both the materials used and the shapes they and the walkway’s path take. Just as color can make them match or clash with the overall ambiance of your garden, their shape can either cut through the design or flow with it beautifully.

There are a variety of materials to make walkways from, each with its own design elements and functional properties. Interlocking concrete blocks and cobble-stone style bricks are the most popular choices. A bed of either heavy sand or small-pebbled gravel is usually laid and then the interlocking bricks are hammered into place using a wooden or rubber mallet. Bricks are laid in a similar fashion, being pressed together and tamped into place to firmly set them. This “floating” foundation allows the ground to heave with frost or moisture without dislocating the pathwayPlant Stuff.

Walkways are so integral to the design of a well-made garden than they are usually planned right from the beginning sketches and drawings before work even begins. Elements like bordering flowerbeds, concrete or rock edges, or bark strips are common walkway enhancers, defining the path’s edges for the eye.

Well-made walkways will have a slope or “crown” to them (a hump in the middle) that allows water to drain off so that it does not puddle on the walkway. This makes the walkway safer to traverse, cleaner, and keeps puddles from forming for mosquitoes to congregate in. The bricks and stones used are usually well-textured so that they have a good frictional quality to give a good grip when walking on them, minimizing slipping and dangerous falls.

Other common elements that are included in walkways are casual seating areas (benches, platforms, etc.), handrails for bridges or raised areas, or lighting elements for nighttime ambiance, and perhaps a great pool background to enhance the whole area. Other additions such as bird baths, feeders, squirrel hutches, pet-friendly plants, and other additions can make lively animals move in and around the walkway to give great entertainment and life to the gardens around the walkway.

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