If you have a garden, you probably have a garden path of some description. If you don’t have one at all, maybe you should think about getting one. Some people have not much more than a dirt track, others are much grander in their designs. How detailed you want a path to be will always come down to cost and environment. Here in Toronto there are definitely a lot of options, and any reputable Toronto landscaping contractor will be happy to assist you in planning and implementing the path of your choice. But what are the options? And how will you know if a particular type of path is right for your garden.
Here we’ll look at some of the most popular garden paths in Toronto today, and briefly look at some of the pros and cons of each.
The Different Types of Garden Paths
Bark and wood chippings are often used to make soft paths that will complement a natural setting. One of the advantages of a mulch path is that the materials are easily transported and spread. Also, the materials used are usually amongst the cheapest available making this type of path the easiest and most affordable option. One drawback is bark and wood chipping will deteriorate like any other organic material which means these paths will need to be refreshed every few years. Another point to consider is these types of path don’t work well if there isn’t good surrounding drainage. In this environment it may become waterlogged and begin to rot quickly. This may cause unpleasant odours and hasten the need for fresh mulch.
More substantial than a mulch path, gravel paths can offer a harder wearing walkway. They are usually made from crushed stone or crushed shells and are generally more suited to gardens where there is more regular activity. Smaller stone, less than ½ inch, is more popular because it is more comfortable to walk on. However, larger washed pebbles have now become very fashionable and are still relatively comfortable underfoot.
There are a few restrictions to this type of path: the gravel can easily spread to other parts of the garden, or even into the home. Also, when snow clearing, care must be taken not to lift excess gravel. Gravel is, like mulch, a very cheap option for a garden paths, and a variety of different stone can be purchased from most gardening stores or most Toronto landscaping contractors.
This is a quick way of creating a path but it may be more expensive than mulch or gravel depending on the quality of the stone used. Most people who create stepping stone paths are presenting the stone slabs as a garden feature as much as a walkway. Quarried stone or prefabricated concrete slabs are both an expensive purchase compared to crushed stone or mulch, but pre-used or off-cut stones are a popular, cheaper option, especially if going for a more rustic finish. This type of path needs very little maintenance once laid. However, moss and wildgrass will eventually form on the stone if neglected for long periods.
A fully sealed paved path can be made from a variety of slabs or blocks, both stone and concrete. This is not necessarily the most expensive path to build as many hardware stores or Toronto landscaping contractors sell and transport these materials in bulk. There are so many styles and grades of stone available that a suitable, affordable option is most likely available to the majority garden owners. Paved paths are generally laid where there is a significant amount of traffic or the garden is quite substantial. Small gardens & garden walkways which only require a walkway for a short distance tend to look overcrowded when a hard path is installed. There is generally very little maintenance required once the path has been laid. However, this is one of the most complex walkways to install with a substantial amount of groundwork and preparation required. Water run-off has to be considered when creating any fixed path in a garden, and if the ground’s natural ability to absorb rainwater has been altered by the new fixture an auxiliary drainage system has to be implemented. A professional’s assistance is recommended when laying a paved walkway. Most Toronto landscaping contractors would be happy to take on this type of project, or give helpful guidance.
Edging and Borders
Most paths require an edging or a border, especially mulch or gravel walkways. This will help contain the materials used and also give the path a more professional finish. Edging can be made out of timber, steel, concrete, or stone, but it is advisable to keep it congruent with the materials already in use – stone or concrete borders around a mulch path may seem mismatched, as would a timber edge to a paved walkway.
So now you’re familiar with the options available why not start planning your very own garden paths. There are lots of garden and hardware stores which display all the latest fashionable stones and gravels. Not to mention many reputable Toronto landscaping contractors who would be willing to show you what they have on offer.
Consider what the path will be used for – does it need to be hardwearing. Consider what you’re willing to spend. Then think of the colours and the layout and your preferred materials. Take all that to a good landscaper and see what he has to offer – you may be pleasantly surprised.