From Pathways to Passageways –The DIY Garden Walkway

Part I: Design and Materials

By Elizabeth Cornell Fake, Fairfax Master Gardener
Garden PathNow that you’ve cleaned the mud off your shoes for the umpteenth time, you are ready to turn the muddy trek from your back door to the garden shed into a permanent walkway. Most garden construction projects need professional planning and a significant budget to become a reality. But a garden path is a good candidate for a do-it-yourself project. With a good design, prudent choice of materials and a willing crew of workers, you can turn the muddy path into a passageway. As the first of two articles on garden passageways, this article focuses on path design and materials. The second part, to follow, will give instructions for building the walk.

Design and materials are partners in planning a garden walkway. Your design enhances the choice of building materials, and most materials can be coaxed into the design of your choice. Design considerations are listed first along with a section on building materials.


  • The first design consideration is how long the path will be, followed by where it will be in relation to buildings.
  • mulch pileWill it be a personal walkway, meaning a strictly utilitarian trail for one? Or will it be social path allowing for two or more people? A personal path can be 2 to 3 feet wide, whereas a social walkway should be at least 1 or 2 feet wider.
  • Do you want to allow room to maneuver a wheelbarrow or garden cart? If this is the case, plan for a width of about 4 to 5 feet.
  • How close should it be to the sides of the house or other buildings? Do you want to plant flowers or groundcovers close by? If so, plan for an additional foot on each side.