Walkway Ideas

Six Inviting Garden Path Designs

Walkway ideas for using stepping stones or gravel to create beautiful garden paths. Pictures of six inviting garden path designs. Tips for landscaping walkways.

Slate walkway through a beautiful spring garden.

Aside from keeping our feet out of the mud and off the flowers, walkways hold a place of importance in the landscape.  They act as silent guides ushering visitors around the garden in the way that the homeowner wants them to go and sparing the lawn the degradation that a steady stream of clodhopping would surely induce.

Properly installed walking paths make the garden a safer place to enjoy a leisurely stroll.

Artfully designed walkways enhance the look of the plantings and make that stroll more inviting.

The Virtues of a Gravel Walkway

Gravel path through a perennial garden.

Crushed gravel and decomposed granite are naturally anti-slip as these materials provide good traction when wet.

Pea gravel paths are pretty to look at and relatively inexpensive to install, but their use should be limited to small areas unless they are set in concrete.  All those loose, little stones can make walking difficult, and weeds tend to spring up between them.

By setting the stones in concrete you keep the charm and lose the liabilities.

Walkway Landscaping Ideas

  1. Install short plants with fine foliage at the edge of a path.  This places these diminutive flowers where they are sure to be noticed and also softens the hard edges of the walk by covering it with foliage.
  2. Often, the best material with which to landscape a path is grass.  Consider the amount of edging that may become necessary if you decide to install turf right up to the edges of a path.
  3. Make a long walk interesting by planting a weeping tree or vine where its branches will slightly overhang it.  The wisteria overhanging the walkway in the top photo is a romantic example of this.

Stepping Stones Can Make Cheap Garden Paths

Simple walkway made of stepping stones set into a lawn.

Where a relatively small number of stones is required, a stepping stone walkway can be the easiest and least expensive solution.  The path in the image above gives an example of this.

In contrast, the path in the picture below, would be much more expensive to build because of the greater number of stones needed.

Black cat on a stone walkway through summer flower borders.

The stones should be chosen, installed, and maintained with care for safety’s sake: 

  • Stones for a path must be large, flat, thick, and sturdy.
  • For easy walking, lay them close together.
  • Stones laid in a lawn should be set just low enough to avoid the mower’s blades and just high enough to easily visible.
  • If the ground routinely freezes and heaves where you live, check the stones periodically as this can unsettle them.  Readjust when necessary. 

    When you find yourself walking on the lawn beside the path, rather than on it, it’s time to attend to this task.  Setting the stones in concrete will eliminate this problem.

The Garden Path as Bridge

Curving stone walkway through a pond.

The last two walkway ideas on this page suggest the use of the garden path as a bridge.  The novel stepping stone walkway in the Japanese garden above, provides a shortcut from one outdoor room to another while, at the same time, allowing guests to walk across, if not on, water.

Two interesting cloud pruned shrubs act as focal points on the other side of the pond beckoning timid visitors to venture across.

Zig zag stone bridge over water in a Chinese garden.

This stone path travels through a moon gate and across a koi pond.  Its zig zag shape and mounds of jagged rocks piled on either side make this a daring walkway design.  Nevertheless, the width of this path makes it feel safer than the one above–even with the curtain of overhanging willow branches forming a visual obstruction.

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