9 easy garden path ideas for all styles of home

October 4th 2021

A beautiful path is a lovely addition to any garden, and creating one that makes your friends green with envy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Yes, even if you’re only a DIY dabbler.


In this article, we’re aiming to help you explore the main options. No detailed instructions here — just inspiring ideas to ponder and quick guides to achieving each look. So, sit back and let the HSS team lead the way.

What kind of garden have you got?


Is your outdoor space neat and well-trimmed or more of a walk on the wild side? Do you keep your lawn edges sharp and flowers lined up in rows, or is gently overgrown more your style? 

Also, is your path going to be the main route to a shed, greenhouse or summerhouse — or do you just want an eye-pleasing meander through the greenery?

Answering these questions will help determine whether your new garden path should be straight or wandering and which materials are most suitable.

1.    Simply mow your own 


If you’re asking for the cheapest way to create a garden path, this has to be it. What could be easier than just mowing a swathe of shaved turf through a longer lawn?


Of course, the downside is that you’ll need to cut your pathway very regularly to keep its definition, and it may require a strimmer as well as a mower to create the path. But, on the other hand, there’s no excavation or building work needed — and no materials to buy.

Credit: (DedMorozz)

If you’re asking for the cheapest way to create a garden path, this has to be it. What could be easier than just mowing a swathe of shaved turf through a longer lawn?


Of course, the downside is that you’ll need to cut your pathway very regularly to keep its definition, and it may require a strimmer as well as a mower to create the path. But, on the other hand, there’s no excavation or building work needed — and no materials to buy.


2. Follow the mellow brick road


Clay brick paving has a delightful warm beauty that gets even mellower with age. If you can use reclaimed bricks, so much the better cost-wise. Using the same bricks throughout looks great, but a “patchwork” path has its own kind of charm.


You’ll need to dig a trench where your path will go (a micro excavator from HSS will make short work of that). Then lay down a firm sub-base of sand and crushed stone. Both are readily available in DIY sheds and garden centres. Otherwise, you’re in danger of developing sunken path syndrome when the weather turns wet.


You’ll also need to line your pathway with edging to hold the bricks in place. Again, you’ll find a variety of edging solutions for paving in any big DIY store. Alternatively, simply use end-to-end bricks.

3. Crazy paving is often a sensible choice


Stones or flags broken up into irregular shapes and held together with cement make crazy paving. To get started, prepare the base for your path by digging a trench, putting down a firm sub-base and edging the area before laying a concrete screed. You can hire a superb range of concreting equipment by the day from HSS.


Then bring your jigsaw puzzling skills into play and fit the random-shaped pieces roughly together, embedding them in the wet concrete. You don’t have to be as precise as with a real jigsaw, because you’ll be using damp grout to fill the gaps — but be aware that the bigger the holes, the weaker the path.


4. Go for gravel


A broad gravel pathway between neat stretches of lawn can add a hint of Downton Abbey elegance to your garden. In contrast, a semi-overgrown path with shrubs, such as, lavender feels wonderfully wild and natural.


In other words, a gravel path is a versatile solution that can work in many different gardens (although it’s unsuitable if you have small children, or pets likely to see it as a giant litter tray). That satisfying crunch when you walk over gravel is another big plus, naturally leading to a slower pace. Best of all, it’s remarkably easy to achieve:


·        Start by marking out your pathway and digging a 4-inch trench with straight sides and a flat bottom.

·        Lay some non-gravel hardcore.

·        Line the trench with a strong weed-proof membrane.

·        Add edging to keep the gravel firmly in place.

·        Rake your path occasionally to keep the surface even and prevent dips, which attract puddles.

Lining rockery-style stones along the sides of a gravel path is an effective way to keep the gravel in place while adding to the natural vibe.


5. Mix slabs with gravel


Credit: (amite)

Simply lay a gravel path, then place paving slabs on top at intervals to act as steppingstones between the stretches. This is a better solution than pure gravel if you prefer a slightly more formal look. It’s also more practical if you enjoy strolling barefoot up and down the garden.


6. Timber sleepers


You can also create a steppingstone effect over gravel with those big preservative-treated railway sleepers readily available from DIY stores and garden centres. They are mainly sold as outers for raised beds in gardens, so why not create a lovely woody feel using the same mellow timber for your path and beds? You can also use wood-effect sleepers cast from concrete as an alternative.


7. Create a rustic path with woodchips

Credit: (CaraMaria)

The groundwork for a pathway made from chipped wood and bark is the same as for a gravel path. Once you’ve dug out your trench, added a layer of hardcore and lined it with a weed-proof membrane, you’re ready to create a woodland path-style by piling plenty of natural mulch on top.


There’s no more environmentally friendly way to pave a garden. The raw material grows on trees, and it’s a wonderfully soft surface to walk on and feel in touch with nature.


You can even create mulch if you have lots of offcuts from trees handy. Simply hire a portable shredder or chipper from HSS, and you can get started on your new pathway. The only caveat is the risk of sogginess if the area around the path doesn’t drain well. Also, mulch needs regular topping up.


8. Create an atmosphere with cobbles


Creating a cobbled path using those traditional small stone blocks is a direct route to period charm. Cobbles can either be set into a concrete substrate and grouted like crazy paving or laid tightly together without bonding — just the right choice of sturdy edging to keep them in place. As with brick paving, the real attraction is the way your stone path ages, developing a warm, weathered character over time.

9. Turn it Japanese


Credit: (yuriz)

Why not bring a touch of Zen serenity into your garden with a path inspired by Japanese traditions? There’s no single recipe, just an array of possibilities from which you can bring oriental inspiration to your garden:


·        Lay a path with a creative mix of gravel, pebbles and giant stones.

·        Line your pathway with dainty pedestals or planters holding bonsai trees.

·        Let conifers in different shades of green surround your path with all-year-round colour.

·        Trim nearby trees and shrubs into pointed pyramids or cones to echo pagoda shapes.

·        Add a splash of vibrant crimson or orange with a Japanese maple.


Need more garden and home improvement ideas?


You’re in the right place because the HSS blog is continually updated with inspiration and practical advice on everything from renovating your cellar to laying down a new lawn. Chat with the people in our branches too. After all, nobody talks to more DIYers and tradespeople than the HSS team do on an average day.


About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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