Hints and tips for successfully laying paths


Paths enable us to get from point A to point B without getting our shoes dirty. But they don't have to be boring and straight.

They can be charming and lead visitors to interesting parts of the garden. They can add interest themselves by wandering around trees and other garden objects such as seats. Paths can be as decorative or plain as you like. Learn the basics here:

Tips and hints for building a pathway and laying pavers

When building a path it should be wide enough for two people to fit along it together. If you have an especially small area to work with then your path should at least be as wide as your wheelbarrow or mower.

Choose your pathway material according to the style of your house and garden. It needs to be constructed of a material that won't be slippery. Where necessary seek advice at your retailer.

Use a garden hose, white spray paint or a dribble of sand to mark out the boundaries for your path. Remove all plants/weeds and extra soil to a depth of about 170 mm (7 inches) and prepare to level the ground.

Consider laying a length of PVC piping width-wise under the path location. This could come in handy at some stage in the future when you may need to pass water pipes or electrical wiring under the path area. The PVC piping should be about 50 mm (2 inches) in diameter.

Gravel, Stone and Rock Paths

If you are going to be walking on it a lot then a gravel or rock path may not be the best choice for your yard.

If you do decide to use gravel or rocks then consider using some form of barrier between the gravel and the rest of the garden. Otherwise the edge of your path will disintegrate and find its way into the garden bed or lawn. The barrier could be a row of bricks, plastic lawn edging or treated wood.

Dig out your path area to a depth of about 170 mm (7 inches). After digging out and leveling the path area you should lay about 75 mm (3 inches) of crushed rock. Then lay large pieces of shade cloth on top of the rocks. Lap the pieces of shade cloth where necessary. The shade cloth will deter weeds from coming up through the path. Next should go a layer of sand to a depth of about 25 mm (one inch) Tamp the sand down so it is level. The gravel/rocks can be poured on top of the sand to a depth of about 75 mm (3 inches). All leveling should be done with a 4 by 2 block of wood.

If you are using a mixture of rocks and gravel try to put the bigger rocks toward the edge of the path and the smaller ones in the middle. Then surround them with gravel.

Brick or Concrete Pavers

Preparation is the key when using pavers. If you don't get the first steps correct then you are headed for disappointment. The earth/sand base has to be flattened properly and this can involve using special equipment. Cost of hiring equipment needs to be investigated. This is one project where you need to get as much advice as possible before you decide to tackle the job yourself, especially if the job is any larger than a small pathway.

When paving a small area such as a fore court use large pavers. Small pavers create too many lines which then makes the area look smaller.

A base of sand to a depth of 75 - 100 mm (3 to 4 inches) needs to be properly compacted. Level the area and ensure you allow for a slight slope for water run-off.

If you wish to give the illusion that your path is wider then lay the bricks across the width of the path. If you wish the path to appear longer you should lay the paving bricks lengthwise down the path.

Treated timber paths

Dig the path area out to a depth of about 150 mm (6 inches). The depth you dig out will be the equivalent of the sleeper depth plus about 50 mm (2 inches). When the area is levelled pour over a sand/gravel mix to a depth of about 50 mm (2 inches). Rake this layer even and tamp down. Lay out the sleepers which have been pre-cut to the size of the width of your path. Leave a gap of around 50 mm (2 inches) between each one. When the sleepers are laid check the levelling and adjust where necessary. In between each sleeper pour a large stone chip mix but leave a gap of 25 mm (1 inch) at the top. This top gap will be now be filled with cement which you will need to smooth off. Into the top of the cement press some small stones if desired.


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