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Add beauty, function to your garden with a path

3 Comments
By LEE REICH

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Stone paths require maintenance and are out of place in Japanese style gardens which looks better with dirt or stone paths. I prefer the dirt so the rainwater is still absorbed by the earth. If houses have gardens, which we have are usually too small to need paths. Our rear garden is about 40 sq m. Many new homes have garden space but no gardens just stone or concrete coverage for cheaper maintenance.

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zichiToday  10:24 am JST

Stone paths require maintenance and are out of place in Japanese style gardens which looks better with dirt or stone paths. I prefer the dirt so the rainwater is still absorbed by the earth. If houses have gardens, which we have are usually too small to need paths. Our rear garden is about 40 sq m. Many new homes have garden space but no gardens just stone or concrete coverage for cheaper maintenance.

A path needs to fit the location which it is placed. A well constructed dirt path can be fine in many locations, however high traffic or poorly drained areas can prove challenging.

Stone/shingle paths can be extemely low maintainance if constructed correctly. Generally I'll dig down 75-100mm and line the bottom with porus weedmat (allows natural drainage) before edging. The path itself can then be just plain shingle, or if a firmer tread required, a stone stabilisation system can be installed prior to covering with stone chip as required. This will give a natural looking path with very low maintanance requirements.

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Even a small garden needs paths. You should avoid treading on your soil as it compacts it, and you can use paths to make your garden look and feel bigger. Check online for more design tricks - larger plants, mirrors, trellis - to virtually expand your space. Any area looks small when it is empty.

If you employ grass paths, get a lightweight cordless lawn mower for them. Once you have laid it, a mulch path is probably the least problematic, cheapest and easiest (as long as you don't have boggy ground or regular floods). Just top it up every few years.

If you are renting and cannot lift an expanse of ugly concrete, fill it with planters. You can grow pretty much anything in a pot. I have 6ft-8ft trees in tubs, including Japanese Maple, Horse Chestnut, Sweet Chestnut, Crab Apples and Sakura. Pay special attention to the compost, feeding and watering regimes. Be prepared to tug them out and root prune them as if they were giant Bonsai, and ensure that the drainage doesn't block up (either roots through holes or a compacted root bole). You can also grow fruit trees and veg in containers. For fruit trees pay attention to the rootstock which determines the ultimate growth.

Filling a small garden with plants will make it feel bigger - don't just put them around the sides in thin borders. Tall plants are particularly important in smaller spaces. You can create your own miniature rainforest in temperate areas by using hardy lookalike plants with large leaves for the structure, and tender plants for colour in the warmer months.

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