Pave your way to a better backyard with inexpensive paths

Tired of getting your shoes muddy every time you cross the yard or walk through the garden? A path is a simple solution and a handsome addition to your backyard.

Pave your way to a better backyard with inexpensive paths

Solid, easy-care gravel

  • Gravel is the easiest to handle and least expensive path material. It's solid enough to handle a loaded wheelbarrow and, although it looks informal, it can complement a formal garden, especially if you trim the path with a stone border.
  • But gravel has several limitations. It's best for light to moderate foot traffic only, and is not ideal for a walkway right to the back door — pebbles will stick to your shoes and end up on the kitchen floor. It's not a great choice if you have to shovel snow off of it in winter — you'll end up picking rocks out of your garden and yard. And it's tough on bare feet!
  • A gravel path will last indefinitely, but it needs upkeep.
  • To keep it looking sharp, rake it and pull weeds monthly.
  • Every few years, top-dress it with a few buckets of fresh gravel. No special sloping is needed for drainage. You can follow the grade of your yard, but avoid low spots or steep inclines so that a heavy rain won't wash all your hard work away.
  • For steps, use wood or stone.
  • It is essential to include a border in your plans so that the gravel is contained.
  • Ask for gravel that compacts well.
  • Gravel ranges in size from powder to one centimetre (1/2 inch), which are the most comfortable underfoot, to about two centimetres (close to an inch), which stay put better during rainstorms.
  • Buy your gravel from a landscape supplier, home or garden centre, or directly from a quarry.

No-sweat steppingstone

  • Steppingstone paths offer many of the advantages of poured concrete or pavers but without all the work, expense and mess.
  • They save wear and tear on heavily used routes in your lawn, and allow you to take an early-morning trip to the garden without getting your feet wet from dew.
  • Since you only remove enough sod to place the stones, you can lay this path without tearing up your lawn. And if you pile the dirt and sod on a tarp as you work, cleanup can be easy too.
  • Almost any type of flat stones will work as long as they're about five centimetres (two inches) thick. You'll also need 27 kilograms (60 pounds) of playground sand for every 10 stones, to create a level base.
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