How to Lay a Garden Path: Step-by-step Guide

You have a beautiful garden and you soak in all its beauty sitting in the comforts of your conservatory. The Niger Seeds bird food and the Sunflower Hearts bird food that you regularly replenish the bird table with are attracting the robins, collared doves, magpies and wood pigeons to your garden.

Do you stop at this? The gardener inside you will definitely want to add to the aesthetic appeal of the property. So what can you do next? Laying a garden path would be a great addition to your property if you already don’t have one.

Talk of laying a path in your garden and you are likely to have several questions in your mind – how to lay a garden path or how to lay a garden path with gravel? We have the answers and shall address all the doubts you have in your mind. In this detailed guide we bring to you step by step guide for laying different types of garden path and also discuss other important topics related to laying a garden. 

Before we answer all the questions you have about laying a garden path we must mention some of the reasons why it is one of the smartest choices to make for any homeowner. Following are the factors that should be your inspiration for laying a path in your garden

  • A garden path provides a practical way to navigate through your garden
  • A garden path safeguards your lawn grass during their growth phase 
  • Garden paths add to the curb appeal of your property
  • Garden paths increases safety during wet season when walking on wet grass is risky 
  • Garden paths can increase the value of your property 

Laying Beautiful Garden Path

As Brits, we love our garden perhaps more than any other community in the world. While the rest of the world is happy to have a garden in their property, people in the whole of the United Kingdom have always invested quality time and effort in accentuating the landscape and the practicality of the garden.

Adding a conservatory or garden bench storage to store the garden tools are few examples of this desirable obsession for many. From spraying moss killers on a regular basis to owning the best lawn spreader available to maintain perfectly manicured lawns, you can trust people in the whole of United Kingdom to do everything possible to improve the appeal of their property.

If you have recently invested in a greenhouse you should bear in mind how it may look without a garden path leading to it. Taking care of your crop with a greenhouse heater may be the last thing on your mind. Creating such a path helps to improve the garden landscape and can be a worthwhile investment in your property.

Garden paths can be made from different materials and substances. On the cheaper side, some people make use of mulch to create a garden path or simply mow down the path to distinguish it from the rest of the lawn.

The three types of garden paths that are most popular tend to be brick, gravel and slab. Here we shall take a look at a detailed guide on how to lay these paths in your garden and also look at the tools and materials that are required to make the same in your garden. If you need more information about other materials such as wood chip, Lawsons have you covered with their guide.

Tools Required 

  • Pegs
  • Strings 
  • Spade 
  • Spirit Level 
  • Rubber mallet 
  • Screed board
  • Broom 
  • Garden rake 
  • Manual hand tamper 

Materials Required 

  • Plastic edging 
  • Bricks 
  • Slabs 
  • Gravel 
  • Cement 
  • Sand

How to Lay a Garden Path with Bricks

Bricks are often the material of choice when it comes to laying a garden path. It is a great material to work with for any DIY project as you don’t need to be an expert mason to lay your brick path.

They are easy on the pocket compared to stone slabs and, unlike gravel, these are more durable and would serve you for years to come. The one thing that you need to keep in mind before laying a brick path is the type of material used in building your home.

If bricks were used to build your house then a brick path would seamlessly blend with it. For concrete or other types of construction material you need to keep in mind the aesthetics factor before opting for bricks. This isn’t to say that you can’t lay a brick path if you haven’t built your house using bricks. Here is your guide to laying a garden path made of bricks:

  1. Mark The Layout: Start by marking the layout with pegs and strings. Here you will need to keep in mind the number of bricks you are planning to lay side by side.
  2. Dig The Path: In the next step you need to start by digging the path. If you are using the standard size bricks, dig out 180mm of soil using a spade. Make sure the soil is even and you can use a spirit level to achieve perfection. 
  3. Install Edging (Optional): This step is optional but if you are working on a long garden path and want it to withstand regular wear and tear, then you should install plastic edging which is readily available in the market. This also ensures that the path has cleaner lines and is smooth once complete. 
  4. Pour in Sand: Pour about 80mm of sand into the hole. Make sure the sand is damp as it will allow you to compress it better with a screed board. 
  5. Lay the Bricks: In the next step you need to carefully lay the bricks one by one. Start the process from the near side and then go outwards. You need to space the bricks about 15-20mm apart. Use a rubber mallet to tap the bricks gently and they will stick into the damp sand. If you are resuming work after a day or two, wet the sand to make it damp before you start laying the bricks.  
  6. Bind With Sand: In the last step you need to pour in some more sand over the bricks and sweep it over using a broom. This is done to fill the gaps between the bricks. Let the sand dry under and sun and repeat this process of pouring sand and sweeping a couple of times till you have a thin layer of sand covering the bricks. 
  7. 24 Hour Wait: Wait for 24 hours before you start walking on the path.

How to Lay a Garden Path with Gravel

Gravel garden paths are all around and one of the reasons behind their popularity is the cost which is substantially lower than some of the other types of paths. Another benefit of gravel paths is their permeability as they allow water to drain easily compared to brick and concrete. The only downside with these paths is the amount of maintenance they require. You need to regularly spray weed killer to prevent their growth. Here is a step-wise guide to laying a gravel path in your garden – 

  1. Mark The Layout: This step is similar to the one we have discussed in the earlier guide. You need to use pegs and strings to mark the layout in your garden. 
  2. Dig The Path: Next you need to dig a path over the marked layout using a spade. Make sure you dig 60mm deep and level it. It is important for you to ensure that the soil is even. 
  3. Install Edging: While installing edging on a path made with bricks maybe optional it is a must when you are laying a garden path with gravel. This edging will ensure the gravel doesn’t spill over from the path when it is used. 
  4. Install Landscape Fabric: Installing a landscape fabric beneath the gravel is a must, as this prevents weeds from growing over your gravel path and also kills any existing weeds. Sadly there are many homeowners who tend to ignore this step while laying a gravel path and regret it at a later stage. If the path is being laid on a garden area that is infested with weed you should use a weed killer before laying the landscape fabric. Trim the sheets to match the size of the path and install them carefully. If you are using multiple sheets make sure that there is an 80-100mm overlap between the two sheets. 
  5. Pour the Gravel: Once you have installed the landscape fabric sheets, you need to pour in gravel and level it with a garden rake. Spot any uneven surfaces on the gravel path and carefully level them either by pouring more gravel or removing some of it. After few weeks of use the gravel may sink in a bit and go below the edging, this is when you need to add more gravel. You may need to repeat this process few more times to achieve the perfect gravel path in your garden. 

How to Lay a Garden Path with Slab

This is the most expensive among the three options above, but once you have laid a path with slabs you may not need to worry about them again for years. You will have the option to choose between wide range of stone slabs across styles and textures.

If you wish to create a vintage look in your garden the cracked and the weathered slabs would be a perfect choice.  This step by step guide shows you how to lay a garden path with slabs:

  1. Mark The Layout: Repeat the process of marking the layout as we have mentioned earlier. You need to calculate the width of the path based on the dimensions and the number of slabs you wish to install. 
  2. Dig The Path: You will need to dig 170mm of the path using a spade. This step is very important as about 100mm of the depth would have to be filled in with a sub-base material and concrete to hold the slabs together. Make use of a spirit level to ensure you achieve an even surface. You can’t afford to get this wrong if you wish to achieve a perfect finish. 
  3. Compacting The Surface: You need to compact the surface thoroughly using a manual hand tamper. This step is very important as it ensures the slabs are perfectly settled and don’t come off after few months.
  4. Layering Up the Surface: You next need to move towards layering the surface. Here you have to start by pouring in the sub-surface, covering up to 100mm of the path. Compact it thoroughly and follow this up by pouring in the concrete which should be sand and cement with a 3:1 ratio. The concrete layer should be about 40mmm over the sub-surface material with consistency similar to dough.   
  5. Installing Slabs: In this step you need to install the slabs one at a time, carefully pressing them against the concrete about 10-15mm deep and about 10mm apart. Using the rubber mallet, tap the slabs gently and make sure they are aligned properly to adjacent slabs.
  6. Finishing Touches: You need to let the concrete dry thoroughly and avoid stepping on the slabs. Make sure your pets and children are nowhere near this when the slabs are drying. This may take anywhere between 12-24 hours depending on weather conditions. Once they have dried up completely finish it by filling the gaps with a weather-proof joining material.

How to Lay a Garden Path on a Sloped or Uneven Garden

If you are dealing with a flat and smooth garden the task is easy. But doing so in a sloped or uneven garden is always a challenge. In fact you can opt for a simple mulch path if you are working on a flat garden, but one that has undulating terrain of significant gradient would require a completely different approach.

It also requires a certain amount of skill to begin with as well. You can opt for either bricked garden path or those with slip-resistant concrete slabs. Here’s 4 tips on how to lay a garden path on a sloped on uneven garden:  

  • Work on the Gradient: Irrespective of the type of material you choose to build the path with, you will always need to start with grading it. The more dips and mounds you have in the garden, the more you should be focussed on grading. The golden rule in any such project is to start with removing soil from the high areas with a spade and filling in the low areas. You should follow this up with raking the soil and compact it with a manual tamper. You can also pour gravel in the low areas and compact it to firm these areas. 
  • Keep Drainage in Mind: You need to also keep in mind drainage while working on the gradient or you will be left with tiny ponds around the path. The chances of creating pits around the garden path are high when you are working on the gradient. Use a garden hose and pour in water from the top of the gradient to see if there are any pits that need to be worked on. 
  • Create Steps: If the gradient is too steep and too hard to navigate, you should instead create steps which are easier to navigate. You need to calculate the cut and the rise of the steps based on the gradient and the size of the bricks or concrete slabs you are installing. You can follow the steps we have mentioned above for brick and slab paths and still create a beautiful path. 
  • Add Rail (Optional): You can improve the safety of the path by installing iron rails on both sides of the path. They look classy and at the same time is a very important safety feature for your garden. 

Along with all the tools we have mentioned above you will also need to have bit of expertise and time to work around in the garden. If you aren’t confident enough to take up this project you need to get in touch with experts on check out the BBC Garderners World discussion here.

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