grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Devine Intervention: Paths

How did I miss this? ? ?

Over at Gardening Gone Wild they are hosting the first of what I hope will be the first of many Garden Bloggers' Design Workshops. This month's workshop is Paths and Walkways and it just so happens that I've been obsessing over where to place a path in my front garden, or if one belongs there at all.

If you've been following my current conundrum, you know that I'm in the process of expanding the front yard flower beds to prepare for some beautiful things to happen there next planting season. Well, no sooner had I expanded the beds and "lasagna'd" them when I ran across this awesome book Front Yard Gardens. You see where I'm going with this - screw the expansion - I want to plant my entire front yard!

Well the problem is that the yard is a perfect rectangle and that's pretty darn boring. Plus, the yard is not that deep but I think if I plant the entire thing without breaking it up somehow, I'll really have a hard time planting and weeding. Now normally I'd do this the exact opposite of how it should be done and plant first and think of paths later while cussing myself for my bad design and lack of forthought, but since it's winter I have some time on my hands.

So, I'm taking Nancy up on the offer to explain to you that I'm having trouble deciding where the path should go. The picture below is my front yard. I should say that I'm planning to have all those shrubs removed before I start planning so dont let them disrupt your creative juices.
So - where do the paths go? Don't be afraid to say "there should be no paths cuz the yard is too small." That just means less work for me ;)
The yard is 41 feet across (that includes the walk to the porch) and 18 feet deep.

The only idea I've had is to place a narrow walkway along the current curved beds then plant on the other side, too but that seems like it might look like my yard has stripes.

I look forward to your suggestions! And I believe I made the November 30th deadline so that means I get entered into a drawing for a great book. YAY!


  1. Hi Gina! I think your idea of siting a path along the line of the existing curved bed is fine, if you want the path to be a bit winding, as well. (And yes, definitely plant on the other side of it, too!) Or, the path could be straight instead, to play off of the geometry of the existing features. I'm guessing that the path is mostly for you to access the planting, rather than for visitors, so it could be fairly narrow. You could try making it just mulch, or a combination of mulch and stepping stones, for the next year or two, to see if you're happy with it before considering a permanent path. (That will also help it to blend in, so the plants are more prominent than the path.) Yes, it will be a bit more difficult to install proper paving later on, if you decide to do that, but I'm guessing you really want to plant as soon as possible (as I would). So, that's my opinion, for what it's worth; just keep in mind that I'm a gardener, not a trained designer! I look forward to seeing what other suggestions you get.

  2. Interesting project! How about disguising the rectilinear nature of the bed by putting a small oval or circle in the middle of the bed with an access area from the walkway which would give you curved planting areas. The oval could be crushed pea stone or paving but would give you access for maintenance and a focal point to which you could add a container, bench, or sculpture.

  3. You just know I couldn't resist answering your call for help. Please come over and collect your free gift certificate for garden design. Hope you like it.

  4. I like the oval idea Layanee has, but I was thinking having a sitting are close to the porch. This way, you could create and outdoor room--granted a small one--and put higher things along the sidewalk, then your smaller ornamentals inside for your enjoyment. Then you could also have a path stemming off the sitting area to around the corner or something. With the smaller area, you could do something fun--put in a center piece shrub or small tree, a sculpture, a water fountain....

  5. nan - thanks for stopping by and making the suggestions! I'll keep you posted on how this turns out.

    layanee - thanks for the suggestions! it's a very intersting one and I'm still trying to figure out exactly how that would work and what it would look like. The challanging part of this online workshop is the visualization part. I'll keep you posted!

    carolyn - WILL YOU MARRY ME??? Oh, wait, this isnt THAT kind of blog. I love the gift and you are the most awesomist (is that a word) garden blogger EVER!

    benjamin - thanks for stopping by and thanks for the great suggestions! i like the idea of a sitting area except for the fact that I'm pretty sure my stuff would be stolen. I don't have as many issues with this as Mr Brown Thumb (see him at ) but we are not far enough in the burbs for this not to be a concern. I'll keep you posted!

  6. carolyn - YES!!!!! I'm still in shock! I have to tell you that the poodles have really turned me off to evergreens but i'm looking up the ones you put on the plan and trying to love them. i love the magnolia, azalea and lilac - they are my fav's! I'm still trying to figure out what the heck a "berm" is!

  7. Think hills, ridgerunner! Not mountains like in Tennessee but a berm is merely a raised bed that adds immediate interest by changing the level of the ground.

  8. Sorry, this has nothing to do with your path problem. I just started blogging, and came across your blog, and I love reading it. If you want to learn more about vegetable gardening, I have two wonderful books you should try to read this winter. Dick Raymond's Gardening Year, and Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond. I know you were new to it last year, and these two books taught me the most.

  9. Gina it seems you have received great suggestions here but I want to give you some encouragement too.

    I took a garden tour last spring and saw several tiny front gardens that were wonderful. A couple were just so pleasantly surprising when you walked their short, narrow winding paths around their front gardens.

    I live on a very busy road and have worried about theft yet wanted a bench out front. So I bought a reallly inexpensive (got it at the Dollar Store) bench painted it lavender (no one liked the color)and it sat out there until I tired of its placement. No one bothered it.

    Go girl, you can do it.

  10. Hi there! I'm new here! I think the baths along the beds would look great. I don't think it would look like stripes because it would intersect with your front walkway and create a parterre. Then if you widened the front path to be wide in the middle, you could put some kind of feature (like Pam has at Digging). I used to have theft issues at a house I lived at in the city, and I found ways to discreetly chain up my furniture.
    ~Angela :-)

  11. Gina, I can't wait to see your front yard when you're done...not that you're ever really "done," but you know what I mean. I would volunteer to come over and dig up sod, but I think it's too cold up there for me!

  12. christine - thanks for stopping by with the book suggestions!

    lisa - thanks for the suggestion about the dollar store! that sounds right up my alley!

    angela - welcome! thanks for stopping by and thanks for the suggestions.

    david - the sod is officially under a nasty layer of snow and ice.