Garden Designers Roundtable: Getting From Here to There

by Jenny Peterson on September 27, 2011

in Garden Design,The Garden Designers' Roundtable

This month’s edition of The Garden Designers Roundtable is focusing on “getting from here to there”– or, for me, that means pathways and walkways! Unless you have a tiny garden, it’s really important to spend some time thinking about how you will get from one part of your garden to another. If you simply omit one and walk across your lawn or through your garden, you’ll beat down a pathway in time. Better to make it look intentional, right? What ever the style of your garden, or whatever design challenges your garden has,  there is a perfect pathway for you! See if any of these strike your fancy:

What if you have a sloped lot? Take advantage of what could be a liability and turn it into a design feature! These oversized, limestone-edged landings are a creative way to traverse down to the lower part of your garden or property. Make sure the rock is mortared for safety–you don’t want them shifting on a slope and becoming unstable!

Gardeners with more contemporary spaces will want to consider a pathway made from formed concrete pavers. Oversized rectangles, perfectly aligned, create a clean, sophisticated entry for guests. Concrete can also be tinted to blend with the surrounding environment–I have a client who has dark slate grey pavers that look incredible.

If you’re looking for a more naturalistic approach, this could be a great option for you. Organically shaped flagstone set right into the ground, complemented by soft plantings like Berkeley sedge (Carex tumulicola) and topped off with decomposed granite. Make sure the flagstone pieces are 2″ thick for stability, and at least 18″ across to accommodate feet.

Environmentally-aware gardeners have a great option with pavers made from recycled tires! I haven’t yet used this product in a garden, but saw it at a flower and garden show. It was comfortable to stand and walk on, and felt stable underfoot.

Take advantage of long pathways by framing a view–this paver path leads up to and just around a planted birdbath, giving your eye something ornamental to rest upon.

If you have some space, create an island in the middle of a pathway–it’s a stunning focal point and really makes walking through your garden a lovely journey. Why not take advantage of every opportunity you have to create a view?

Got a long, narrow space? Use enlongated cut pavers nestled into gravel or small river rock. Admittedly, this is a bit more decorative than it is functional–after all, you can certainly walk well enough on simple gravel paths.  I just like the textural variation here.

If you’re looking for a more industrial look, try using long diamond plate rectangles–this material is often used in the automotive industry, but also in other industries where traction is needed underfoot.

There are so many kinds of materials, styles, and construction ideas for pathways–first take into account your garden’s style and the look you’re going for, then choose your materials and keep safety in mind. Do you have a unique pathway that’s transformed your garden? I’d love it if you’d share it on my Facebook page!

Take a look at my colleagues’ posts on “getting from here to there”–I can’t wait to read them myself! A special welcome to our guest posters this month, Debra Prinzing and David Perry.

Debra Prinzing & David Perry:  A Fresh Bouquet

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Jenny Peterson : J Peterson Garden Design : Austin TX

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Desert Dweller / David C. September 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

Thanks for sharing such variation in how to “get there”! The diamond plate idea really has me thinking of applications in gravel areas with some really spiky, steely-looking plants, regardless here of it being a breeding place for centipedes, vinegaroons, etc…

rebecca sweet September 27, 2011 at 9:10 am

Wow – your first and last photos are amazing examples of thinking outside the box. Great job, Jenny! (hurry up and use those recycled tire pavers, too, as I have a client who is interested in them and I don’t know anyone who’s used them yet!! ;)

Scott Hokunson September 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

The limestone-edged landings are terrific, love the angles! The enlongated cut pavers in gravel are a great effect also, I feel like I’m walking in someone else’s footsteps on them. Maybe thinking about what they were thinking or where they were going. Great post!

Christina Salwitz September 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

Truly creative use of stone in some of those shots Jenny- way to go lady! You continue to inspire me. ;-)

Pam/Digging September 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Great tips, Jenny. I particularly like the ones about framing a view along the way or creating an island bed to enjoy in the middle of a wide path. There are so many ways to be creative with path-making!

Jenny Peterson September 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thanks, everyone! I’m having a good time reading all the other posts, too–so many ideas, so little time….. ;-)

Debra September 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Hi Jenny,
great post! I especially love your suggestion to create a island in the middle of a pathway! So beautiful and functional at the same time.
This is fun! Debra

Robert Webber September 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Scott has beaten me too it with his choices of your pics. They are my favourites too! Lots of lovely ideas here to inspire us all to think so much more about paths and steps.
Thanks and Best
R

Susan Morrison September 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I love the range of pathway materials you’ve shown! Your post is reminding me I need to get a bit more creative when it comes to choosing pathway materials. And I agree with Scott and Robert – love the limestone-edged landing!

Jocelyn/the art garden September 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

The floating slabs of diamond plate were totally new to me – LOVE. Probably best in a shaded setting to avoid too much heat and glare? (Ditto for the recycled tire pavers – I know the shredded tire mulch can get incredibly hot.) Thanks for all the cool ideas!

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