Create a garden path cheaply: ideas with gravel, mulch and stone slabs
If you want to create a garden path cheaply and quickly, you can take inspiration from our ideas, which can be implemented over a weekend. Thanks to the informal design and natural materials, these walkways blend in better with the surroundings and look as if they have always been in your garden.
Ideas for natural garden paths made of cheap materials
This walkway looks natural and winds like a small river through the garden. Mulch, grit and gravel are the best materials if you want to create a garden path cheaply and quickly. All you have to do is remove the lawn, line the path with weed fleece and spread the mulch or gravel on it. Depending on the design and edging material, the sidewalk design can vary from casual to formal. You can also choose from a variety of loose materials, including wood chips, decorative mulch, polished stones or crushed gravel.
Create a garden path with mulch / wood chips
The three common types of mulch that are suitable for garden paths, wood chips, cocoa shells and bark mulch (preferably cypress bark). You can use a wood shredder to process wood into wood chips. Because these materials weigh less than stone, they are easier to transport and distribute. Mulch is also a little cheaper than gravel or grit. However, keep in mind that you will need to replace the fill material with new material every two to five years. Also make sure that it starts to disassemble after a year. Also, do not use bark, wood shavings, or mulch for paths that lead through areas with poor drainage or that are wet. The result would be a muddy path.
For best results, dig out the soil wherever you want to lay the path. This helps to prevent the wood chips from scattering. For a normal passage, the path should be at least 45 inches wide. 90 centimeters if you want two people to walk side by side. The soil does not have to be perfectly flat, but the soil should be well compacted to create a firm foundation.
Create a gravel path
Different types of gravel are available for paths. Usual cheap variants are: grit, limestone gravel and pea gravel. For a path that looks more formal or is more durable than a mulch path, consider washed gravel or crushed stone. These materials have an unlimited lifespan and only need to be shaped with a rake occasionally. If you want to drive a wheelbarrow or lawn mower along the way, choose gravel or grit instead of smooth pebbles. Their jagged edges combine to form a solid surface.
The gravel is available in different grain sizes. Smaller pebbles with a grain size of less than 1 centimeter are best for garden paths because they offer more comfort underfoot and hold together better. Measure the length and width of your walkway and get advice from the hardware store to determine the amount of gravel needed. If your journey is not very short, it makes sense to have the material delivered. Gravel for a path 8 cm deep and 100 cm wide costs roughly the same as mulch.
If you want to create a gravel path, you should note some restrictions. It is better not to use the gravel near entrances, as the small stones can get into the house. In addition, gravel paths are a bad choice for places where you often have to shovel snow in winter. This is how the gravel can land in your lawn or flower bed.
Tips for creating mulch and gravel paths
- If the garden path is long, rent a gas lawnmower to remove the lawn. You can use a garden spade for short distances.
- The edge of the path boundary should be about one centimeter above the filler material.
- When building or setting the edge of the path, it is best to use a spacer cut to the width of the garden path as a guideline. So you don't have to pull the tape out all the time to make sure the edges are parallel.
Newsprint as a cheap alternative to weed fleece
- Line the path with garden fleece to avoid weeds and to prevent the fill material from mixing with the soil. Do not use plastic or plastic tarpaulin. It catches water and the result is a wet path.
- Get the gravel delivered best, especially if you need more than 500 kilograms.
- If you should create a garden path that is firm enough to roll a wheelbarrow on, it is best to use gravel. Pearl gravel or other rounded stones are not suitable for this. Stomp the ballast after leveling. Use a hand tamper for short distances and rent a vibration plate tamper for long distances.
Edges are important for landscaping
Lawn edges are a must for mulch or gravel paths because they prevent the material from getting into the lawn or into the flower bed. Curbs can also serve as a design element. Here are some common types of edging that you can use for your landscaping:
- Bed borders made of plastic are inexpensive and also quick and easy to place. If you don't like their look, hide the top edge with plants.
- Bed frames made of steel or aluminum form a sharp edge and give the path a neat look. However, they cost more than plastic and are unsuitable for gardens with a slope.
- Edges made of brick and stone are attractive and versatile, but more expensive and much more complex to build.
- Concrete path edges are cheaper than brick or stone, but have the same advantages. Newer models that look like quarry stones are an inexpensive alternative to a real stone border.
- Wooden palisades are an inexpensive alternative to stone or brick edging. Incidentally, wood and gravel are also perfect for building steps on a slope.
Create a garden path cheap with stone slabs
Stepping stones are the fastest and easiest way to create a garden path cheaply. The advantage is that very little is dug. Since there is a gap between the stones, you do not have to worry that they are not perfectly aligned. And although the stone is heavy, flagstone paths cost less because you can fill a large area with little material. Flat plates that are about 45 cm wide and 5 cm thick are ideal. If you want to create a long stone slab path, ask a supplier for help to determine the correct amount and have the stone delivered.
Place the stone slabs where you want them and cut the outline into the grass. Pry up the lawn with some soil and place the stone slab. If necessary, use sand to level it.
Square and round concrete walkway slabs (30 x 30 cm) can also be used to create attractive walkways. These are available in a wide range of colors and textures. Search online for “terrace tiles” to discover the great variety.
Tips on how to lay stone slabs correctly:
- Arrange the stones so that the distance between the center of one plate and the center of the next is 50 to 60 cm.
- Spread a 1 to 2 cm thick layer of sand under the stone if you want to level the slabs more easily. It is easier to work with sand than with earth. A sack with 25 kg of sand is enough for about four to six stones.
- The stepping stones should be about 2.5 cm above the ground. This ensures that they stay dry while you can still drive over them with the lawn mower.
Plants between flagstones
It looks particularly attractive if you cover the joints between the stone slabs with ground cover plants. This greening offers several advantages: First, you can do without the thick base layer of gravel under the stone slabs. Even if the stones move or become uneven, the plants will hide it. The second advantage is that you don't have to spend extra time laying the stones perfectly. The plants will also fill large gaps.
There are some perennial plants that are hard-wearing and can grow between stone slabs. Here are some ground cover plants that tolerate some pedestrian traffic: crawling thyme, blue bobble (Isotoma fluviatilis), crow's-foot lye flower (brass buttons), lip mouth (Mazus reptans) and stonecrop sedum.
Tips for greening the garden paths:
- Arrange the stones along the sidewalk and leave a gap of at least 10 cm between them so that the plants can spread out. Then use a prick scoop to cut along the edge of the stones to mark the walkway.
- Shovel about 4 cm deep and remove a layer of grass and soil.
- Spread a 1 cm layer of sand on top. This makes the stones more stable.
- Choose plants that will feel comfortable between the stepping stones.
- Water the new plants frequently in the first few months until the plants have developed well.
- You still need to pluck weeds between the stones every few weeks to prevent them from displacing the plants.
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