My new paths are wide, comfortable and they go places!

About a year ago I quit my long-time job, came home and started making paths.  It wasn’t on the to-do-list.  But somehow, standing in the winter sunshine, deciding where to go next, was the most pleasant thing in the world.   

Paths are a great way to organize your thoughts and your space.  If you have a piece of property that keeps you wondering , make a path.  The path will show you what to do next. 

But don’t make the mistakes I did  when I made my first paths some 20 plus years ago. 

 1) My original paths were too narrow.  I must have been feeling stingy when I laid them out.   Then as plants grew,  the walkways became even narrower.   Paths should be nice and wide so you can walk side by side with a friend.    Don’t make a road, but bigger is better.  

2) My main path went no where.  Not good for someone newly retired.  It’s ok for a work path to go  straight to the shed or compost pile and double back, but garden paths need to keep flowing.   So I busted out–cut my way though a patch of briars, vines and saplings.  And the new paths begin.  

My garden instantly  became bigger.  New planting beds emerged because I organized the space. 

A year later, I am still working on my paths.  And that’s a good thing.  Because you shouldn’t lay out anything in concrete (unless you’re a pro).     Design new paths  (and beds for that matter) with a rake or length of hose.  Lay them out with some broken branches–like camp–and live with the space  for a while.  Walk it, look at it from the window.  Once you’re sure it works (or not) , do something more permanent. 

That’s where I am now.  This week I finished edging my new paths with logs.  Yes, the wood will rot over time.  But we live in the forest.  More trees will fall.  Besides, the logs were already there.  It was easier to use them than move them out. 

Next step?  Surfacing my paths with granite screenings.  I haul these in my little truck from American Soil and Mulch on hwy 55.   Application is very low tech.  Just like mulch, I rake them out about 3 inches thick and they make a nice mud-free surface.  I like the gray color and how it contrasts with the beds, but you can also make a nice surface with mulch.  

Finally, something I did right 20 years ago when I was laying out my first paths–I created a sense of mystery.  Sounds like some pie-in the sky concept, I know, but it’s not.   I’m just saying try not to show everything  in your garden at once.  Even if you live on a tiny lot, your garden should reveal  it self in stages.  A destination is good.  But the journey is better with a few nice surprises.

My original woods path (after a recent make-over). I like the way parts of it remain hidden so you have to explore.

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