How to DIY your own garden path

DIY is the way to go for homeowners at the moment, particularly first-time buyers who have little left in their budget for contractor-led renovations.

Luckily, there are a lot of projects that can be tackled DIY with little experience, and which can still yield positive results. One such practice is the laying of your own garden path.

Planning your path

First, you’ll want to figure out exactly what path your path will take. For exceedingly simple path designs such as stepping stones in your lawn, this can be as simple a process of laying out your stones and charting your ideal path.

For more involved pathing projects, you’ll want to draw some plans and take some measurements – of your garden, of the ideal width of your path, and of its length. This way, at the very least, you’ll have an idea of how much material you need to buy.

Choosing the right materials

Speaking of which, the next step would be settle on what form your path will take. This means deciding on the specific materials with which you will build your path.

Materials greatly inform a number of aspects of path-building, from skills required to the aesthetic of the finished product. Paved pathways present a clean, manicured look, working well against pristine lawns and cared-for flowerbeds; for wilder gardens, reclaimed stones in a stepping-stone arrangement can add a sense of wonder. 

Gravel is another common choice for pathways, being inexpensive and versatile. Gravel is often used by those with more practical gardens, such as those growing vegetables or cultivating plants in a greenhouse.

Getting the tools of the trade

You’ll also need to take a moment to ensure you have all the tools you need for your path-building project. At the very least, you will need a shovel, rake and hoe in order to prepare the ground for the path.

String is an underrated addition to your toolbox, as it is useful for ensuring paths are level as can be. Where conventional paved are concerned, you will also need a pointed trowel for applying and pointing mortar. Where gravel paths are concerned, access to a rake is a must.

Readying the ground and laying the path

Here, at long last, you are in a position to lay your path. Again, your early decisions will greatly affect the amount of work ahead of you; you might simply wish to seat your stones dry, and allow vegetation to grow around.

For any other path, it is necessary to remove all the turf across the path and flatten the soil bed. From here, a membrane should be laid, on which your materials will themselves be laid. For gravel paths, this is as simple as pouring your gravel and raking it level. 

For a proper paved pathway, though, there is more effort involved in securing your ideal finished product. You will need to make a mortar, and lay your path methodically – ensuring each stone is level with the next and that enough mortar fills the gaps. Use string to ensure your path remains level all the way across, and point the mortar carefully to minimise gaps.