Path that gradually ends... how? Photos?

deejeDecember 29, 2006

When you walk from our back deck into the yard, you're entering a perennial garden rather than a lawn area.

Currently, you step down onto a double row of aggregate blocks and then immediately into bark mulch. Just off these aggregate blocks on the side of the deck is our gas grill.

Although I'd like to keep a solid landing off the stairs and beneath the grill, I'd like to extend a path off into the garden that dwindles down and disappears. The existing mulched paths would continue through the plants.

I'm stuck on how best to do this, so that the path doesn't look contrived or hard-edged. I want a natural-looking, gradual transition from landing to mulch, and I just can't take it from vision to materials! Simple stepping stones don't seem to be "enough" to establish the beginning of the path, but flagstone seems like "too much" for the far end.

I'd welcome any suggestions and especially any photos of similar projects you've done.

Here's the area I'm talking about. I see the path "fading out" after about 20 feet, after you walk beneath the clematis arch and then between the two arborvitaes:

Here's a view from another angle:

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natalie4b(7b GA)

Hi deeje ,

I don't know the answer to your question, and just wanted to say that your garden is lovely. Thank you for posting pictures.
Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 6:44PM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

Maybe the pictures do not show all the detail, but I just don't understand why the two grass areas are separated by a mulch area. Besides looking a bit od it does not seem to be very convenient for mowing the lawn.

I would connect the two grass areas and grow grass right up to the blocks. You could add one or two additiona blocks right in the grass to soften the transition to grass.

The arbor would then be the entrance to the garden.

I would not have the garden path dwindle down. It should have a destination. Could be a bench, or some piece of art or urn. As the garden matures, try to have taller plants hide the end of the path to make it more enviting.

The path could be flagstone which is easy to lay in mulch. Just lay on the ground and mulch around it. Then let some of the plants grow right up to the flagstone so that it does not look quite so formal. Use large pieces of flagstone - 2 ft diameter and don't lay them too linear. At the arbor, lay several so that the path starts wider and has a definite entrance.

I think that once the plants grow and fill in, the flagstone will no longer look "too much"

The alternative would be a gravel, or crushed stone pathway. You would probably want to line this with stones to keep the mulch in place. This would be more work, and I am not sure it would look any better.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 11:02PM
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Thanks for the input, madtripper (and for the compliment, natalie!),It's a very young garden, but I'm really enjoying working in it so far.

The path actually does lead to a piece of artwork -- I was standing in its place to take the second photo -- but at that point, the path breaks in half to go both to the left and right through the plantings, and those paths will remain just mulched.

A mulched path is what I'd like to keep for most of the garden, but really do need a solid "something" at the bottom of the stairs and grill area. That's why I'm hoping there's some good way to build a path that transitions out into the mulch softly, rather than having an abrupt edge.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 9:32AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Why have the path fade away? Why not end it in a big circle to hold your artwork. Make it a feature instead of disappearing.

I suggest a small patio tree planted near your grill to shade the patio and add some substance to the patio plantings. A large vertical element is needed to help anchor that arbor.

Good luck

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 7:11AM
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travelergt4(z7 GA)

You can have a path gradually fade out. I've done it where it looks great, if that is what the situation calls for. You have to imagine the path as ancient Roman ruins - the stones form a solid path but at the very end start having more space in between, until you only have a couple stones, seperated by large gaps. As with all paths, how carefully you install this, quality of materials, the time you take eyeing the layout, rearranging and re-rearranging, make the difference between a fine garden path and something tacky.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 10:48AM
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How about ending the path with a bench below or behind the arch. You could sit and look back at the art work you mentioned, and your beautiful garden. The bench would give you a destination and a reason for the path to stop. Oh and a fragrant rose climbing the tellis would further enhance the experience.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 3:42PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I think the way to go in your case so the edge of the path doesn't look 'hard edged', as you say, is to use the same mulch on the path as you use in the beds. Here's an example from my garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: path

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 12:50AM
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travelergt4 said "You have to imagine the path as ancient Roman ruins - the stones form a solid path but at the very end start having more space in between, until you only have a couple stones, seperated by large gaps."

Yes! That's exactly the look I want to achieve, but I'm stuck on the type/size/shape of stone and where to begin in placing them. I anticipate having to move everything around a number of times, but I want to invest in the proper materials before I start.

As I said in my initial post, my mind's eye sees a problem with the transition that I just can't resolve; the material that will look appropriate both at the solid, sturdy end of the path and at the trailing-into-mulch end. But perhaps that's just my limited vision. Do you have any pictures you can post of your work?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 8:54PM
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lazydaisy(z7 NTX)

There's a whole art to this in Japanese gardening (if I'm reading this correctly) using scale and perspective. You can find a lot about this by Googling also. I've added a link just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 5:09PM
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bindersbee(6a UT)

I would use some sort of flagstone. To me it would look better if it were flagstones with small gravel in between rather than mulch. At the beginning of the path it would be tight flagstone. As you get closer to the 'end' you increase the spacing with more gravel in between until you end with just gravel.

I don't think the mulch with flagstone works well because the materials are too disimilar and don't naturally fit together as well. You'd get the best 'fade' if you are using like materials. You can use a compactor machine to help press the gravel into place and make it tighter. You might look into polymeric sand and see if that is an option between your flagstones. I'm not sure if it would work well in this specific application but you might want to research it.

If I were designing this type of path for a client, that's how I would do it.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 4:16PM
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TwoMonths(So Calif)

I think instead of the path looking like it ends, turn the corner with it and your plants will grow up and it will look like the path continues on...after the turn put a piece of art on oneside and on the other a bench to sit on and look at it...peaceful. Like potanns'photo looks like the path splits off and goes 2 different ways. By the way botann, that pic is lovely.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 2:03PM
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