Build a Garden Path the Easy Way

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Would you like to build a path in your garden, but don't want to rent a compactor or fuss too much with levels? Are you looking for a walkway that's attractive and durable? Why not try a pea gravel walkway with stepping-stones? It's quick, relatively easy to install, and looks great.

Another advantage of this type of path is that it�s quick and easy to change as well. If you want to change the way the stones are laid out or install new stones to change the look completely, it can be done in an afternoon.

The first thing you will need to do is lay out the shape of your path--garden hose works great for this. Tip: gently curved lines are usually more visually appealing than angular or straight lines. Once you have decided the shape and length of your path, use the sod cutter to cut along the edges of your path to define the outer lines.

If there is sod to remove from your path area, use the sod cutter to cut a checkerboard pattern inside the borders of the path, dividing the sod into approximately 1' squares (for easy removal). Next, remove the sod and soil to a depth of about 4".

Now that you have your path excavated, its time for the pea gravel--this can be purchased at your local landscape firm or at a crushed rock supplier. Pea gravel is a product made up of small rounded stones, which is easy to spread and easy on the body, if you fall.

Before you install the gravel, it is a good idea to put down a weed barrier of some sort--old newspaper works great for this--just put it over the whole path area in a layer two or three sheets thick. Next, evenly distribute the pea gravel over the entire area of your path and rake it out smooth, filling the path back up to ground level.

With your gravel now in place, its time to start placing your stepping stones. There are many choices for stepping-stones. You can choose from a variety of man-made products or use natural flagstone. Place the stones the length of your path so that they are a comfortable stepping-distance apart, and then start setting them into the gravel.

Pea gravel is easy to dig, so you can simply use your hands to scoop out a hole for each stone--then push down on the stone with both hands and wiggle it downward into the gravel until it is stable. Remember to wear work gloves and steel toed shoes, when handling these heavy stones--lift with your legs, not your back.

That's pretty much it. You now have an attractive, durable, weed resistant path, which you can enjoy for many years to come.

Materials, tools and equipment needed: stepping-stones, wheelbarrow, pea gravel, sod cutter, shovel, rake, steel-toed shoes, work gloves.

Work safe: Always wear work gloves and/or safety glasses when you should. When handling heavy materials, lift with your legs, not your back, and remember to wear steel-toed shoes.

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Author: Jeff Galbraith
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