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Natural Paths for Garden Beds

Anyone who has priced hardscaping lately knows how expensive it can be, particularly if you have large areas to cover.

HOw to create Natural Garden Pathways that Keep the Weeds away. 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.

Area for perennials and vegetablesThe 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.

This damaged urn will be the focal point of my path design.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.

landscape fabric and pine bark controls weedsThe 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.

Cardboard controls weeds on my pathWe 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.)

Pine needles and pin oak leaves add more weed control to the pathsFinally, I added a layer of pine bark nuggets.  First path done!

Beginning of my garden pathsNow, 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.

Landscape cloth at the fence line keeps the weeds at bay but allows the water to permeate around the Japanese Silver GrassI covered the cloth with finely shredded mulch and then topped it with the bark mulch.

A layer of pine mulch and then bark mulch finishes the job.This is a photo of my finished urn planter.  You can’t really see the break in the urn even at this early stage. 

This urn planter was damaged by tree trimmers but you can hardly see the damage when it is filled with creepers.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!

Urn planter at the center of caged tomato plantsThis 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!

Center pathway to my garden bed
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.Paths lead to a seating areaAnd 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.

This path leads to a park bench seating areaThe 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.)

 From an ugly eyesore to a lovely garden with natural mulch garden paths. Find out how to do them at

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Kim Smith

Thursday 26th of June 2014

You are so clever to "fix" your planter with a cascading plant. It looks awesome. Glad the contractor replaced it! Nice paths.


Thursday 26th of June 2014

Thanks Kim. He not only replaced it, he took a photo of it and went out and got me one! It was amazing of him. Now I have two. One planted and one waiting! Carol

Heather @ new house new home new life

Tuesday 24th of June 2014

The joys of gardening indeed! Love your natural paths though, even if flagstone is "cheap".

I usually put down straw between my plants, but can't find any this year.


Tuesday 24th of June 2014

I've never used straw. But we spent a tidy sum on the mulch. Ended up with about 3000 square feet or more of it when all the beds were done. Carol

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."