Strolling the garden path

By guest blogger Elizabeth Petersen

Photo: Elizabeth Petersen

Garden paths are especially important this time of year, when they keep your feet dry on the way to the compost pile. But they have year-round benefits too.

They define garden spaces and improve the year-round usability of the garden. They help manage rainwater, allowing it to permeate into the ground gradually rather than turning to mud. And they keep down weeds naturally.

Garden routes tend to materialize as you and your pets track down the ground going from one part of the garden to another. To make the route into a path, add charm and function to your garden, put down a thick layer of coarse wood chips for a soft feel underfoot and a casual elegance.

Cedar chips make great, long-lasting paths. They are lightweight, easy to use and don’t splinter; they are friendly to the native ecosystem; they decompose very slowly, so they last for years when applied deeply; and they smell and look great.

Where moles are a problem, lay down a barrier of permeable landscape fabric before spreading the chips to keep those pesky molehills from mucking up the path.

It’s great to have a garden project when the garden is asleep. Just get a pile of cedar chips delivered to the driveway (or pick up a load yourself if you have a truck), and spread the chips out in a good, deep layer (at least 3 inches, but more is better). Then, take a stroll.