by Lauri Myers and Bruce Gaudette
June 13, 2009

One of the most important structural features to install is the pathway. Pathways are not just for getting from point A to B. They in fact determine the journey you want their traveler to take. So first, determine the purpose of the pathway and who will most likely use it. Next, determine where you want the traffic to start and end. Will one path accomplish your goal, or will you need several?

A straight path encourages people to move directly and expeditiously to the end without taking much notice of their surroundings. This is usually reserved for areas of little interest, or areas that are to lead the viewer to a focal point or specific destination such as a doorway or gate.

A curved path however, slows the viewer down and makes them take notice of their surroundings, it will also pull their interest around the next corner to see what lies ahead.

The materials that pathways are made of are just as important as the form and location. A narrow pathway of crushed gravel will convey a much slower pace than a wider one of concrete or pavers. And a pathway of Mica flagstone will slow them down even more. Mulches are another alternative for pathways. Everything from nut shells to Bamboo leaves are available. All these materials will make a different sound that should also be considered.

Once your pathway is finished, the plantings that border it will also define its use. Ground covers, low plants, or soft flowing grasses are the first choice. Don’t plant anything that will become too large or imposing right next to the path. Always consider what the plant will look like as it matures. Also, remember that concrete or paver pathways are easier to edge a lawn against than that of a looser material.

If you are not quite sure about the form or material you want to use in your pathway, take a long walk around the neighborhood, visit your local landscape supply store or pick up some of this season’s gardening magazines for inspiration.

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