How to Create your own Yellow Brick Road in the Garden

Discover how to design that special garden walkway that will make your garden magical!

Magical Garden walkways

I love to saunter down garden pathways, contemplating, deciding, deliberating, and observing as I walk. Dragonflies land on deep purple Japanese irises and scissor their wings in and out, bees crawl deep into hosta bells scarcely revealing their presence, and ants crowd peony blossoms harvesting their sticky nectar.

At the end of the garden pathway, astilbes, hostas, and lilies bloom above koi and comets opening and closing their mouths as they circle for food in the pond below. A walk in the garden should be enchanting and the magic begins with a yellow brick road – or that special garden pathway that helps to create a spectacular walk through the garden.

There are many kinds of garden pathways: straight, curved, ornate, simple. The style choice is up to the designer. I prefer garden paths that are simpler to create and don’t require the use of cement.

While my husband created a lovely slate and cement pathway to our pond, it’s much easier and just as captivating to fashion a slate path without cement. However, there are also many stepping stone moulds that may require cement but are fairly easy to master.

Slate walkways

To add more charm to a dirt path I often walked, I decided to create a slate walkway.

First, I chose thirteen pieces of slate from the colors of slate available: purple red and blue.

Next, I varied the colors and sizes of the slate, spacing them about a foot apart. I arranged them in the design that I liked to help visualize what the finished path would look like.

Next, I dug the stones in. I dug about four inches deep under the perimeter of each stone and then just wiggled them in. If any slate step was off center I leveled it by wedging small stones under the corners. The rain and wildflower seed mix did the rest — eventually producing wild geraniums that spilled over from my garden and trickled between the slate steps.

Brick walkways

Brick is also a neat option for a garden path. For the second garden path I created, I wanted something that would give a bit of traction to high heels. Before this second path, on going out nights I would forget that I was dressed up and walk unthinkingly across my usual dirt shortcut to my Jeep and sink my heels in at least two inches of mud.

Creating a brick pathway is not difficult. I used left over bricks, which means that some of them were even broken but this didn’t matter. It just made the pathway more alluring.

I lined up the brick pieces where I wanted them to go to see how they would look. I then dug an indenture under each one and dug them in. Since the ground was a bit uneven, I again used small rocks under the corners of the bricks to prop them up a bit. The result is that I can now walk across my favorite short cut without the mess – that is unless I miss a step!

Moulds for garden steps

I’ve also seen a number of fabulous moulds that can be purchased for garden steps. The more common moulds are round stepping stones, some prefabricated, others with places for stones to be added.

Many garden magazines or design books also provide ideas for creating uniquely shaped steps – such as steps shaped like leaves. These steps typically do involve the use of cement but provide step by step directions. This option may be a better fit for someone aiming for a more distinctive flavor.

There are so many lovely niches for paths in a garden. When designing my garden pathways, I thought about where people lingered as well as where I liked to walk and threw in a touch of magic. Mixed all together I discovered a garden wonder, a place to think about the world and make decisions or to escape from it and rest. The decision is mine.

 

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