The garden path is an essential element of any landscape, but without careful design it can be both ugly and inefficient. These seven tips are contained in an article by Andy McIndoe which I found on the Learning With Experts website. He explains that you first have to have a valid reason for the proposed path and then it should have a logical route particularly when the lawn is involved.

I was invited to lecture in Moscow a few years ago to an audience of garden designers from all over Russia. Interest in garden design is growing, but the conditions are challenging and the resource of knowledge and experience is limited. However the enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge is fantastic, so I asked the organisers to suggest topics for my lectures. The first was “the journey through the garden”. My initial reaction was “what’s that all about”. I was expecting nice fluffy planting combinations and arty colour, I hadn’t expected to be talking about how to get from A to B.

2 Pathway mown through grass (683x1024)
However when I thought about it I realised how bad we are at using routes and pathways in our gardens and landscape schemes. How often you see those wonderful right angled pathways to a front door which guarantee a trodden route straight across the grass or flowerbed. In public schemes how often designers put planting through a car park, only to have it crushed by pedestrians with shopping trolleys heading for an entrance. In private gardens a straight pathway leading directly to a fence has no aesthetic or practical purpose. A meandering path might seem like a good idea, but why does it meander? Why have a pathway in the first place?

I filled a three hour lecture with my thoughts on this topic. Here I’m just giving you my seven top design considerations for pathways in your garden.

1. First and foremost there must be a reason for that pathway; a destination or purpose. If it is for access to your washing line then consider what it will look like when the washing line isn’t there. Maybe a focal point beyond the position of the washing line will be the answer? If it is purely for access and maintenance of a bed, border or hedge, hide it in the planting, use stepping stones, or integrate it in a bed edge.

4 Stepping stone path through flower bed
2. A logical, credible route for a pathway is paramount. Curved pathways should follow contours, lines of the lawn, curve around beds or features, or even around islands of grass cut at different lengths. A meandering pathway through a level lawn with straight sides makes no sense at all. This pathway is part of a design disaster: crazy route though the lawn, straight into an unattractive fence line. What?s that all about?

5 Illogical pathway
3. In small spaces try and keep the lawn open and simple. If there is a pathway through the garden keeping it to the edge of the lawn between lawn and border is usually the best solution. The most difficult edges are always those where hard surfaces meet grass. They are tricky to get right and to maintain. In this case the lawn has been divided with stepping stones which makes the space look small and fussy. Try mowing and maintaining that!

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I am a keen gardener and so created Garden Pics and Tips for people who love gardens and enjoy great pictures of plants and gardens. Also covered are practical tips on all aspects of gardening.