Material for paths

clhawk(7a)February 28, 2007

I'm doing my woodland garden in my backyard and I can't decide on what to fill my paths with. Choice 1 is to use moss. I have a lot of it and I can get it to spread. I'm concerned that it might not hold up to foot traffic though it won't have much. Choice 2 is to vacuum up the leaves in my yard and use that to line the paths. Choice 3 is to use some kind of pavers or gravel. I don't like that because of the expense and the time it would take to lay them.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

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What about wood chips? Some tree companies will give you free chips so they don't have to pay to dispose of them. Call around and inquire.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 2:54PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Mine are dirt paths and the moss has come in by itself. It makes for a very handsome path and in the winter (without snow covering) it makes a green stream wandering through the woods. I have some problem with it being loose in spots, but even with my walking around there is not that much damage to the moss. I think it is the ideal solution. With wood chips, leaves or pine needles they keep needing to be replaced. I either rake or blow the leaves off the paths - once or twice in the fall as the mood strikes me and then aagain in the spring. good Luck!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 9:30PM
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I use wood chips because that is what is convenient for me. I like the idea of moss paths however. If you have a type of moss that will grow on wood chips you could first lay the wood chips and then the moss and get the best of both.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 8:10AM
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I'm not keen on the wood chips since it would be a hassel to find a source. I guess I was wanting more of "what would you do in my situation" kinda answers.

I love the idea of moss in the paths. I hadn't thought about how it would look in the winter. That must be nice.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 9:01AM
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I don't have a lot of moss expertise but have read in many sources that you can increase moss cover by making a "moss milkshake" and sprinkling it where you want the moss to grow.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 10:35AM
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gonativegal(zone 5a)

Dear Clhawk,

I use pine bark nuggets for the paths. I scoop the dirt out a couple inches down, bevel the sides and then fill with nuggets. It gives it real authentic,naturalistic, woodland type feel and by scooping out keeps the nuggets from washing away and/or into the beds. The nuggets age gracefully as well.

You can fine the pine nuggets at a full-service Menards and sometimes at Home Depot or Ace HW.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 1:29AM
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starfyre(z8 wa)

Moss milkshake??? What types of moss will this work for and how exactly would one do it? Does it work exactly like I envision it would from the name??

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 12:18PM
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I go to a retaining wall place and pick up large thin 1.5 inch pieces of fieldstone/ limestone and do large spaced stepping stones which then the moss grows around. It helps to not be hitting the moss everytime I step.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 1:46PM
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Moss is definitely not my specialty so I'm not good for the details but thought I'd mention it since you like moss. I am attaching a link for moss milkshakes that I found through random searching.

Here is a link that might be useful: Moss Milkshake

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 5:32PM
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Garden Web has a moss forum that has a lot of info.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW moss forum

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 9:22PM
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I was just reading that wood chips in the woods are bad because they spread worms into the woods which is not good for woodland plants. NY Times article in the last few days.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 5:43PM
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One thing to consider about the moss--it is beautiful, but i can become very slick----I have taken more than one spill on moss---

I know that a lot of people have wood chip paths, but I have always wondered how they deal with it when all the leaves fall? If you leave the leaves and the chips, you will develop great soil (I know this from experience), but you want the good soil off the paths, not on them!

I am very interested to hear what others have to say on this topic. Good luck! Molly

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 8:59AM
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That is strange...why would worms not be good for woodland plants? I put reground woodchips on my paths every year for the past 30. Just be careful you don't get woodchips that may possibly have ground up black walnut in them.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:25AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

MollyJenning, you ask what to do when the leaves fall on the woodchip paths. I just use a lawn rake and sweep them off in the beds and then sometime in the winter I add more woodchips both on the path and in the beds, covering up the leaves. Several places in my garden the path is higher than the beds and shaped like the top of a big pipe. The shrubs and trees grow up so that it appears that the path is lower. The added advantage of this the path is not in a water collecting ditch and the nutrients leach out into the beds. The tree roots go right out under the path and feed off of it because of the good soil there. I have been adding woodchips for over 25 years and it works just fine. It pays to make friends with the woodchip guys. I have several tree service companies deliver to me as my garden is quite large and chips are the way to go for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Woodchip path in the Fall

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 4:42AM
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robbyjo(z8a E NC)

I think pine straw would be nice for the softness underfoot and the fragrance. With whatever you use, it might be a good idea to put landscape fabric underneath. I want to use the kind that is supposed to keep seed from sprouting on it for up to 10 yrs. I was thinking about putting a nice deep layer of sand on my paths, so I'll get more exercise walking around.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:44AM
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Botann, Your woods is absolutely lovely! What a beautiful photo.

How do you keep your woods so lush? The whole understory of our woods has been done in by the deer, which breaks my heart.

Many thanks---

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 5:34AM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

We use a thick layer of coarse sawdust on our woodland paths. The sawdust 'knits' together to form a porous, weed-smoothering path that is springy & dry to walk on. The sawdust looks bright yellow for a couple of months and then, like everything wooden, it greys out for a 'natural' colour.
IMHO, very nice!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 1:26PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Molly, I have deer. but not very many. I also live in the foothills out of Seattle. Think rain.
I also have been in the same place for 28 years.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 9:18AM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

Our driveway is unpaved and wet. Every fall I rake up leaves and pile them in two tracks. The car flattens the leaves and they make a nice crust that keeps the car from digging into the mud as long as no one gets stupid and spins their wheels.

I like leaves because a big enough pile compacts by itself after a few rains. They snuff out most weeds. It is a clean walking surface and smells nice. Moss is so beautiful and fresh looking. It does get a bit more slippery than wet leaves. The nice thing about leaves is they come free every fall. You have to do it every year though, unlike wood chips

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 12:16PM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I think anything that is used as mulch would make a nice path - it all depends on what you like. I have a lot of paths that I never add anything to. Some in partly sunny places grow a few plants and I mow occasionally. Others in shade become covered with a layer of broken up leaves that make a nice cover. The only places I might need to add something are where bare dirt is on the surface. In these places I usually add chopped leaves.

I find the easiest way to get wood chips is to wait until someone in the neighborhood is having a tree removed or a power company is clearing branches near a line and simply ask the guys doing the removal if you can have a load of chips. They are usually happy to get rid of the chips especially if they don't have to drive far to do it.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 10:49PM
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cynandjon(Z 5/6)

we have tried many things for our path in the woods and the one material that I find works the best for us and is pleasent under the feet is Pine needles . In this area of pa,bark or wood chips draws deer flies. We also have moss but it is easily uprooted.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 10:15AM
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