Designing Footpaths

  • Mubanga Sampa by Mubanga Sampa
  • 1 year ago
  • Others

All yards have paths, planned or otherwise. Well-designed paths keep your feet dry and provide safe, easy access to your house. Great paths do more, they make your garden more inviting. A successful path also shapes and defines garden areas as it connects unrelated parts to create a coherent whole. Keep reading to learn how to design a garden path to link the house to the garden visually as well as physically.

How to design a garden path

Plotting your path

How well a path works depends on how you route it. We suggest starting with the most essential type, the primary path. This kind leads to or from the front and back doors, and often connects with the street or sidewalk. A secondary path branches off from a primary path and usually extends farther into the landscape. Also, consider routing a path to create interesting visual illusions:

  • Firstly, a path that curves and disappears around a corner draws attention to what lies beyond.
  • Secondly, a straight, narrow path can make a garden appear longer, especially if the endpoint is hidden.
  • Thirdly, a curving path, or one laid on the diagonal, draws the eye from side to side and counteracts an elongated appearance.
  • Lastly, in a yard dominated by lawn, a stepping-stone path breaks up and adds interest to the expanse of green, and protects the grass from wear and tear.


The size of a path should relate to its use. A primary path should be wide enough so two people can walk side by side. We also recommend that the width corresponds to the dimensions of an architectural element of your house. For example, the combined width of the front door and its trim. This helps ensure the house and path relate to each other. A secondary path is more likely to be used by one person at a time and should be narrower. Ensure all paths are wide enough to accommodate your outdoor equipment. Finally, be sure all paths are wide enough to accommodate your outdoor equipment.


Choose the surface next. Soft surfaces include a variety of mulches and turf. Hard surfaces, including brick and stone pavers, offer variety and good looks. Consider safety, practicality, appearance and cost when choosing a surface material.

1. Complement your house

A path that fits in visually is made of materials that blend with the style and materials of the house and surrounding structures. That doesn’t mean you can’t mix contrasting materials to perk up a path.

2. Think purpose and location

A primary path that sees heavy traffic must be made from a material that’s set firmly in place and provides an even, nonslip surface. Loose, informal materials, like crushed stone or bark, are often inappropriate near an entryway because people track them inside.

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