Anyone who has priced hardscaping lately knows how expensive it can be, particularly if you have large areas to cover.
I am redoing my whole area that I used last year for veggies. Long story short, the squirrels were a nightmare for me and I don’t plan to go through that experience a second time. I’m combining perennials and vegetables in one bed, so that if the squirrels do attack the veggies at least I will still have something left of my work. See my perennial/vegetable garden plan here.
The garden bed is a blank slate right now. It has a lone small area of spring onions that I am just about finished using and that is it. I love projects so it appeals to me that I can do whatever I want with this space.
The first thing that I had to tackle for this large area (1200 square feet) was some kind of path plan. I can’t afford hardscaping, so I plan to use pine bark nuggets for the paths. They will degrade over time of course, but it will nutrients add to the soil and by then, I can come up with a more permanent path design.
I want a central area to the garden, where I can use a large urn that the power maintenance crew damaged when they trimmed our trees. They did not tell me that they had damaged it, but when I contacted the contractor, he was good enough to replace my planter. However, even with the chunks out of it, I can use it as the focal point of my paths. I will just use a creeper that grows over that cut out area.
I covered the area around the urn with black landscape cloth first to control the weeds that I know will come eventually. (affiliate link) Over this is a generous helping of pine bark.
The next step was to start the entry path. I covered the area where the path would be with cardboard. This will also break down, and earth worms love cardboard.
We had a ton of pine needles and pin oak leaves after the winter, so I gathered them up and layered them over the cardboard. (even more nutrients as they break down aw well as a weed stopper.)
Finally, I added a layer of pine bark nuggets. First path done!
Now, I have to do the rest of the paths. I plan to have four more large paths radiate off the center area to seating areas, as well as some smaller walk ways on the far right side.
At the fence line, I wanted to make sure that the weeds from next door did not encroach. I have Japanese silver grass and Butterfly bushes to hide the neighbor’s yard. They take up a lot of space but there is a lot of room for weeds to grow around them. I used more landscape cloth here. (affiliate link) It will allow the water in but keep the weeds at bay.
I covered the cloth with finely shredded mulch and then topped it with the bark mulch.
This is a photo of my finished urn planter. You can’t really see the break in the urn even at this early stage.
The urn make a great entry point to the area that houses my tomato plants. It has almost like an arbor look with the four caged plants. Now if I could just get my neighbor to more his truck out, the scene would be perfect!
This is my finished path structure. Vegetables and perennials and bulbs were placed in to the small areas defined by the finished paths. Next step is to dig a small trench to hide the garden hose!
The paths from the right side lead to a lovely lounge chair seating area with tree planters. Marigolds line the path nicely and also attract beneficial insects.And from the left side, it leads to another seating area with a park bench beyond the green beans. This path is lined with lettuce and broccoli for ease of harvesting.
The mulch, cardboard and other material has done a fabulous job of keeping the weeds away. None of my pathways have any weeds in them after a few months (the beds in the border do but weeding there is fun to do! ) This project took me several months to do – not so much because the paths took a long time but because I planted and tilled each area as I made each path. That is the way I like to garden. I do a bit and then sit and look at it to see what needs to be done next. Even with my plan in hand, it always seems to come out a bit differently.
The funniest part of this project is that I was trying to save money on hardscaping, and when I had it done, my husband came home and told me that he had discovered a place where he can get flagstone pieces for a really inexpensive price.
Ah…the joy of gardening…it always changes. Stay tuned for the “revised and updated path article.” (most likely next year. I am one tired lady after this project.)