Garden Design: Paths

Vegetable Garden Path{via}

This week in my new online workshop, Design + Install Your Own Garden, we are talking about the building blocks of the garden – beds, paths, fences and gates. The participants are getting ready to begin transferring their garden visions into hand drawn garden designs. They are making decisions about how they will feature these garden elements in those designs.

I don’t recommend keeping your paths as bare soil. Weeds will definitely grow there – that’s their job! And spending time weeding paths is a waste of time. My favorite material for paths in my own garden is woodchips. This could be because I am married to an arborist who owns his own tree care company. I can get all the woodchips my little gardening heart desires.

But, I also like woodchips because they are often free from municipalities or fairly cheap to purchase from a local landscape supply company. (If you live in Madison there are free woodchips at the Olin brush site.) I use woodchips to mulch all of the paths in my vegetable garden as well as my perennial garden beds once a year in the spring. I lay the mulch down very thickly so it lasts all season. When the occasional weed does appear, it’s easy to stick a digging fork into the woodchips and pop it out.

You can also use bricks, stones, pea gravel and other materials in your garden paths. I always have fun looking at garden photos on Pinterest. Below are a few different path photos I’ve found for inspiration.

Rock Garden Path{via}

Paver and stone garden path{via}


Garden Path{via Pinterest}

Garden Design - paths{via}

Join me and other garden lovers in person for Design + Install Your Own Garden at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Saturday, April 5. You’ll leave the day long workshop with a hand drawn garden design you can implement this spring. Register here.

We are in week 3 of the beta version of the Design + Install online workshop and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ll be running it again in April and those on the interest list get first dibs on registration. Join the list on the class page.

My classes have been filling up with waiting lists this spring. Register early.



  • Id like to know what do you put under rocks to make a walkway in garden to prevent grass growing between and to keep rocks in place?

    • Hi Ingrid- I’m assuming you mean some kind of gravel or crushed stone? Usually people excavate down a few inches and then fill it with sand or screenings and tamp it down, then put the gravel on top. It’s difficult to prevent anything from growing in the paths because organic matter gets mixed in from falling leaves, plant matter blowing around, etc.

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