What materials are suitable for making paths?
For an average flower garden, grass paths are usually best, for they present a green foreground for the garden picture. They need no maintenance other than what the lawn receives. Gravel or bluestone paths in the flower garden are likely to be a nuisance to take care of. Where a path must be dry, or at least passable in all sorts of weather, brick and flagstone are serviceable. Often it is possible to make a grass path more practical by adding a line of stepping-stones down its middle, or along either edge.Should a path be laid out in a straight line or with a curve?
Generally speaking, a path should be as direct as possible, because they purpose of it is to provide a passage between two points. However, a natural-looking path should follow the contour of the garden, curving around trees or shrubs that are in a direct line. Sharp curves are to be avoided, and all unnecessary turns. When a curve is to be made, it should have a long, gentle sweep. For very small paths, a straight line, with no curves at all, is advisable.How should I construct a brick wall?
Brick walls look best when laid in sand rather than cement mortar. Provide a gravel or cinder bed about 6 ins. thick, then put down a layer of fine sand, set the edge courses, and fill in the field brick in whatever pattern you wish. Fill the cracks between the bricks with fine sand, wash it well, and tamp thoroughly. In tamping, lay a heavy board on the walk and pound that rather than the bricks themselves. The walk will be smoother if you do this and you will break fewer bricks.What pattern should be used in laying a brick walk?
There are two standard patterns, basket and herringbone. Either may be varied somewhat according to taste. The basket pattern is more economical, since there is no cutting of brick. There are other variations too, such as a basket pattern with a rowlock edge and herringbone with a sawtooth edge. In laying out the walk, set only one edge course first. Lay out a section of the field to see how the pattern is working out, then set the other edge. Do no decide on a predetermined width for the walk and then try to fit the pattern into it.I have been thinking of putting in a gravel path. Is it commonly used in the garden?
Gravel paths are often used. They are inclined to look a bit formal and cold, however, and they are not so comfortable to walk upon as grass. Also in the winter the stones and snow stick to the soles of shoes and so can be brought into the house.What sort of stones are suitable for a path of stepping stones?
Water-washed flat stones with rounded edges are the most effective. If these are unobtainable, other flat stones or random slates or flagstones can be used, which are thick enough to bear the weight of traffic. Discarded, broken-up sections of concrete paving can also be used.Are sections of tree trunks practical and long lasting as stepping stones?
Yes, the chain saw has made it simple and inexpensive to cut flat cross sections of any sized tree trunk, 4 - 6 ins. thick. These can be treated with some wood preservative or used in their natural state as stepping stones in the garden and be expected to have a long life.Is it possible to encourage the growth of moss? I want to put some between stepping stones.
Moss can be started only by transplanting sods of it from some place where it naturally grows. Find a variety that is growing under similar conditions of sun or shade. Probably you will get better results by using plants of Arenaria verna caespitosa, the moss sandwort, which can be purchased.Will you suggest some plants for placing between stepping stones?
Various thymes, sedums, Cerastium tomentosum, Euonymus fortunei 'Kewensis', Mazus reptans, Potentilla tridentata, Sagina subulata, Veronica repens, Tunica saxifraga, and Viola arenaria.Can you recommend a substitute for tanbark to use on our woodland garden path?
Wood chips should be suitable, if you live in an area where they are available. They are often available for a slight charge from utility companies and should last for three or four years before they decay. Another substance - if your path is not too extensive - is pine bark, usually available from garden centers. A third material, but of much finer texture than the others, is sawdust, a practical solution if you live in a lumbering region.Of what shall I build my garden steps?
Steps of stone with brick or flagstone treads harmonize well in many gardens. All-brick steps often look too harsh and formal. Field stone is all right if you can find enough flat ones. Concrete is much too unyielding. Grass steps held in place by steel bands embedded in the turf are beautiful but hard to make and to maintain. For very informal situations, sod, gravel, or tanbark steps held up by field stone or log risers are most effective. Sometimes the steps themselves are made of squared sections of cypress, black locust logs, or railroad ties.