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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Garden Paths

Garden paths are not merely functional, connecting the most frequented parts of the garden, they are also important artistic elements.

The placing of paths must be well thought out before you start to lay them down. All paths shold be usable in all weathers, even during prolonged spells of rain or frost. Also, they should not need a great deal of care, but always look pleasing.

The path from the garden gate to the front door of a house ususally takes the shortest route. All the other paths, betwen the house and the sitting-out place, the garage, pool or kitchen garden need not take the shortest route, but they should facilitate views of the prettiest parts of the garden.

Concrete Paths: Although concrete lasts well and is relatively cheap and practical, its use in a garden is questionable from the aesthetic point of view. It must be regarded not only from the functional aspect, but the way the concrete surfaces are arranged.

Paths contribute considerably to the general design of the garden. They must be safe and comfortable, with a well-kept surface, and always in agreement with the character of the garden. Very important are the edges which keep out the surrounding vegetation. The edging stones or bricks should be laid before the layer of gravel. They must be set deeper than the bottom of the dug-out bed of the future path, and always below the level of the surrounding terrain.

Natural stone paths: Natural stone is the most appropriate paving material for informal gardens set in a rural landscape. The type of stone should be chosen carefully, both from the aesthetic and practical points of view. Sand-yellow or ochre shades go well with a lawn. If the stones are too light they are inclined to dazzle in bright sunlight. Also, they should have a rough surface so that they do not become dangerously slippery in wet or frosty weather.

All paths need both a lengthwise and a transverse gradient, so that no water stands on them. On level ground the path must have a transverse gradient from the center to both sides. If it leads along a slope the gradient should be to one side, following the slope. A lengthwise gradient should be half to one centimetre per linear metre. At the lowest point there should be an outlet, which can either lead to the drains or to a sump, so that no puddles form.

Wood paving: A paving of wooden offcuts is very effective, but it is not suitable for damp situations. The offcuts should be at least 20cm thick and can be of any kind of wood though, of course, hardwood lasts longer. To make this kind of paving more durable each piece should first be dipped into a preservative solution and left to dry. The part of the offcut to be inserted into the ground can also be immersed in liquid asphalt and then laid in a bed of sand, so that it does not rot. Take care in the distribution of offcuts of varying thickness with a view to achieving a regular effect, with the thickest at the sides. Then scatter the paving with sand and thoroughly water it in, so that sand reaches deep into all the cracks.


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