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garden pathways - what do you use?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 5
Location: Ontario
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I know that there are many different ways to make paths in the garden or in between rows, etc. I don't know if grass is ideal, so I wanted to see what others are doing. I have just planted white clover this year in our pathways, to keep the grass down, and encourage bees to come. Not sure if this will work next year, as the grass could creep back in. I'm also experimenting with rye grass/straw in between our long wide rows in the field. Any other suggestions?
 
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I use a really thick layer of chipped tree mulch. It gives the birds an alternative hunting-ground than just amongst my seedlings
 
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We do a white dutch clover and grass mix but mostly we try to promote the clover more than the grass. I simply LOVE having permanent pathways in the garden of nice, soft moisture saving green. No dirty shoes, can get in the garden even after a rain, can get on my knees without the pain of dirt clods and rocks imprinting my skin.

This is a pic of one of my gardens before spring planting. Will have to take a pic of this year's garden and post it as well.

 
pollinator
Posts: 400
Location: South West France
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Our main garden is on a slope and once a year we empty the goat shed at the top of the slope.



I noticed that as the chickens scratched in the pile, the compost they made made its way downhill. The garden looked like this beore I started clearning some of the trees to make more growing areas and this path gave me the idea of opening the fenced compost and just letting it go where it wanted to, to make a path the same way as you'd get in a wood - simply by using it and mulching it.



So now our paths are kept clear by a combination of this compost "river" which descends down the slope naturally moved by the chickens who scratch in it looking for insects. When there's too much compost on the paths I use it for potting and put it over the plants in the raised beds.









I've more piles of compost further down the garden where the pigs and chicken sheds are. The soft fruit and trees are lower down from these sheds and they are now starting to have the same sort of compost paths around them.







Eventually, I hope to have enough trees and bushes around the plot so that everything is "self-mulching" and the paths stay clear by just using them - as they do in the forest.



 
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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cat chicken urban
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Irene... I love the photo's! I can only dreaming of owning such a smallholding. I've got to make do with my 1055 m2 that (at least to the casual eye) has to maintain something of a mainstream facade...

I've made several paths: repurposed anti-weed foil bordered with reclaimed stones and filled with woodchips. An other part has our old natural seagrass carpet cut to lanes and topped with woodchips. I've had to cut a lot of overgrown laurelbushes and they make great streds. My frontlawn is still very much that: a lawn (although more herbs then grass). First I have to finish my forestgardencorner and then I'll start taking out parts of the lawn to make more room for bigger plants and veggies. I plan to leave strips of the old lawn in place as paths.
 
Posts: 145
Location: B.C.
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I have pea gravel circling the house and pea gravel on our driveway. Weeds come up? Yes but I don't care. No one ever died from the sight of dandelions.

Around the property we have deer made trails and my son has made numerous bike trails and jumps to hit. Kind of cool to have a wild bike park in my yard (in the treed areas.)

In our field I have a fenced garden with garden paths between the beds. I use trampling down the weeds and a good thick piling on of compostable materials to keep the weeds 'smothered.' Messy and not nearly as pretty as Irene's place.

@ Irene I have serious garden envy!!
 
Irene Kightley
pollinator
Posts: 400
Location: South West France
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Oh, I'm sorry. I don't mean to be so proud really but I've waited a long time for al our plans to come to fruition and when they do it's nice to share photos and ideas.

Don't forget we've got a farm and all the compost is a "waste" product from our goats and sheep.
 
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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From a desert dweller in Arizona.....

Looks like Eden to me. We have to plant or buy stuff to make compost out of. and water all of it.
would be nice to have stuff that isn't alleopathic or invasive around the house to work with.
Love your chicken grids too, have you come up with any new chicken ex-closures?

congrats, and will use your model of downhilling, will be nice to have gravity work for me for once !
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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Irene, don't apologise...
I think most of us here love to see inspiring images like that and I can only imagine it has taken many hours of hard work so you should be proud of it.
 
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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Jay Green wrote:We do a white dutch clover and grass mix but mostly we try to promote the clover more than the grass. I simply LOVE having permanent pathways in the garden of nice, soft moisture saving green. No dirty shoes, can get in the garden even after a rain, can get on my knees without the pain of dirt clods and rocks imprinting my skin.

This is a pic of one of my gardens before spring planting. Will have to take a pic of this year's garden and post it as well.



So, in this picture, the green parts are the paths, not the beds?

Also, I noticed that your garden is on a pretty good slope. Have you had any issues with erosion? Our future garden area at our homestead is almost all sloped (we're in upper east TN), and I'm concerned that the compost I bring in for my raised beds will erode if I don't use some sort of hard barrier (I wanted to do borderless raised beds).
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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Mitsy McGoo wrote:
Our future garden area at our homestead is almost all sloped (we're in upper east TN), and I'm concerned that the compost I bring in for my raised beds will erode if I don't use some sort of hard barrier (I wanted to do borderless raised beds).



If you make the beds at a 90 degree angle to the slope, you could make them level on top, (so one side is raised more than the other). That would be a first stop to erosion. Another is using a borderline of strong plants that keep the wind and rain from eroding to much. You could make a bigger windbarrier outside the beds at the side of the strongest winds, and use smaller barrierplants around the beds.
 
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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Oak Leaves
I've got tons of them around here.
The drought down here in north Florida is hovering between Level 3, extreme, and Level 4, exceptional. I mulch the beds to preserve moisture. I figure I should mulch the paths as well. Exposed pathways allow what moisture there is to be drawn out of the beds. Foot traffic helps to break up the leaves and small sticks. Any time I need some mulch for the beds, it's right there, reach over, grab up a handful as needed. The leaves also help to suppress the Bermuda grass.
 
Jay Green
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Mitsy McGoo wrote:

Jay Green wrote:We do a white dutch clover and grass mix but mostly we try to promote the clover more than the grass. I simply LOVE having permanent pathways in the garden of nice, soft moisture saving green. No dirty shoes, can get in the garden even after a rain, can get on my knees without the pain of dirt clods and rocks imprinting my skin.

This is a pic of one of my gardens before spring planting. Will have to take a pic of this year's garden and post it as well.



So, in this picture, the green parts are the paths, not the beds?

Also, I noticed that your garden is on a pretty good slope. Have you had any issues with erosion? Our future garden area at our homestead is almost all sloped (we're in upper east TN), and I'm concerned that the compost I bring in for my raised beds will erode if I don't use some sort of hard barrier (I wanted to do borderless raised beds).



Yes, the green parts are what was left after I tilled the rest of the clover in to make beds for planting. Before tilling, the whole garden looked like the pathways.

No issues with erosion whatsoever if you leave no ground bare...anything bare either gets planted to a ground cover or mulched heavily while bedding plants are growing. Immediately after the garden is through all the tilled areas are replanted to ground cover or covered deeply in mulch.

The permanent pathways of clover/grass keeps the soils from traveling, even in hard rains, while the added tilth of the tilled-in cover crop helps the rain to absorb instead of run off. Planting crossways on a slope insures any runoff just makes its way to the next bed and the next and the next. By the time it gets to the bottom of the garden it is well absorbed into the pathways or raised beds.
 
Mitsy McGoo
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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Jay Green wrote:

Mitsy McGoo wrote:

Jay Green wrote:We do a white dutch clover and grass mix but mostly we try to promote the clover more than the grass. I simply LOVE having permanent pathways in the garden of nice, soft moisture saving green. No dirty shoes, can get in the garden even after a rain, can get on my knees without the pain of dirt clods and rocks imprinting my skin.

This is a pic of one of my gardens before spring planting. Will have to take a pic of this year's garden and post it as well.



So, in this picture, the green parts are the paths, not the beds?

Also, I noticed that your garden is on a pretty good slope. Have you had any issues with erosion? Our future garden area at our homestead is almost all sloped (we're in upper east TN), and I'm concerned that the compost I bring in for my raised beds will erode if I don't use some sort of hard barrier (I wanted to do borderless raised beds).



Yes, the green parts are what was left after I tilled the rest of the clover in to make beds for planting. Before tilling, the whole garden looked like the pathways.

No issues with erosion whatsoever if you leave no ground bare...anything bare either gets planted to a ground cover or mulched heavily while bedding plants are growing. Immediately after the garden is through all the tilled areas are replanted to ground cover or covered deeply in mulch.

The permanent pathways of clover/grass keeps the soils from traveling, even in hard rains, while the added tilth of the tilled-in cover crop helps the rain to absorb instead of run off. Planting crossways on a slope insures any runoff just makes its way to the next bed and the next and the next. By the time it gets to the bottom of the garden it is well absorbed into the pathways or raised beds.



Makes sense. Good to know that what you're saying works in practice, not just in theory. Do you have to irrigate? We want to incorporate swales in order to avoid the need for irrigation. I've been told by the locals that no one irrigates anyway (apparently, it's just not really necessary because of our consistent rainfall), except maybe in very late summer if it's dry, but I want to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on our spring.

Do you find that the top of your garden is noticeably drier than the bottom or is that a non-issue?

If you have more pictures of your garden, I would enjoy seeing them because it looks similar to what we want to do. It's been challenging to find pictures of gardens on slopes where the beds haven't been leveled (and used expensive materials to do so).

Thanks in advance for your input!
 
Mitsy McGoo
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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Kat deZwart wrote:

Mitsy McGoo wrote:
Our future garden area at our homestead is almost all sloped (we're in upper east TN), and I'm concerned that the compost I bring in for my raised beds will erode if I don't use some sort of hard barrier (I wanted to do borderless raised beds).



If you make the beds at a 90 degree angle to the slope, you could make them level on top, (so one side is raised more than the other). That would be a first stop to erosion. Another is using a borderline of strong plants that keep the wind and rain from eroding to much. You could make a bigger windbarrier outside the beds at the side of the strongest winds, and use smaller barrierplants around the beds.



I understand what you're saying and considered that, but I worried that the shallower part of the bed would be too shallow and unusable. I think it's one of those things where I won't really know until I start digging. I do think using some sort of perennial with a heavily tangled root system as a barrier is a good idea. I'm probably making it a bigger issue than it really is, but I just don't want to truck in loads of compost, only to see it all wash away in the first heavy rain!
 
Jay Green
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Makes sense. Good to know that what you're saying works in practice, not just in theory. Do you have to irrigate? We want to incorporate swales in order to avoid the need for irrigation. I've been told by the locals that no one irrigates anyway (apparently, it's just not really necessary because of our consistent rainfall), except maybe in very late summer if it's dry, but I want to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on our spring.

Do you find that the top of your garden is noticeably drier than the bottom or is that a non-issue?

If you have more pictures of your garden, I would enjoy seeing them because it looks similar to what we want to do. It's been challenging to find pictures of gardens on slopes where the beds haven't been leveled (and used expensive materials to do so).

Thanks in advance for your input!



No dryness noted in any parts of the garden during regular rainfalls but even in times of drought, the garden seems to stay pretty evenly moist/dry.

When I first moved there I built raised bed structures but found they were too cumbersome to work in and around, so I removed the boards and just used raised beds without borders and implemented the permanent, green pathways to define the rows and to keep the raised bed soils where they were most needed.

This pic will show some of those bed borders and the garden in mid growth...



This was a single yellow squash plant at the foot of the garden that year.



Can't see much in this one but you get the idea....gardening got better after I removed the borders and planted the clover all over the garden and started over with just raised beds without borders.





 
Mitsy McGoo
Posts: 22
Location: zone 6b in upper east Tennessee
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Jay Green wrote:

Makes sense. Good to know that what you're saying works in practice, not just in theory. Do you have to irrigate? We want to incorporate swales in order to avoid the need for irrigation. I've been told by the locals that no one irrigates anyway (apparently, it's just not really necessary because of our consistent rainfall), except maybe in very late summer if it's dry, but I want to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on our spring.

Do you find that the top of your garden is noticeably drier than the bottom or is that a non-issue?

If you have more pictures of your garden, I would enjoy seeing them because it looks similar to what we want to do. It's been challenging to find pictures of gardens on slopes where the beds haven't been leveled (and used expensive materials to do so).

Thanks in advance for your input!



No dryness noted in any parts of the garden during regular rainfalls but even in times of drought, the garden seems to stay pretty evenly moist/dry.

When I first moved there I built raised bed structures but found they were too cumbersome to work in and around, so I removed the boards and just used raised beds without borders and implemented the permanent, green pathways to define the rows and to keep the raised bed soils where they were most needed.

This pic will show some of those bed borders and the garden in mid growth...



This was a single yellow squash plant at the foot of the garden that year.



Can't see much in this one but you get the idea....gardening got better after I removed the borders and planted the clover all over the garden and started over with just raised beds without borders.







Thank you! This is very helpful. I've actually found many of your permies entries to be informative and applicable to what we want to do (not trying to be stalker-ish or anything).
 
Jay Green
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You're quite welcome! I'm so glad that someone can use anything I say....when I first came here it seemed like I couldn't say anything that didn't make someone mad. LOL
 
steward
Posts: 2723
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I cut and dry long (3ft) grass and once it's brown, lay it in new pathways. Once that decomposes a bit I throw down some clover seed. I chop and drop that into the garden beds through the year. I don't like to use stone or gravel on paths because I like to change the layout of a garden often.
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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Mitsy McGoo wrote:
I understand what you're saying and considered that, but I worried that the shallower part of the bed would be too shallow and unusable.


You could dig down a bit on the uphill side of the beds so you get an even depts. Or you could plant the more shallow rooting plants at that side.
 
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
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Unless you have shallow bedrock, the beds are as deep as we (or our helpful plant friends, like Miss Daikon and Mr.&Mrs. Potatohead) make them.
 
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@Irene

What a wonderful homestead you have. I admire your pathways and checked out your blog to learn more.

I see that you have some very impressive animal shelters. Can you share some of their designs? I have plenty of material here on my little farm in Oregon. I'd love to build one of these structures here.

Thanks again for sharing
 
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I'd say a wall of chicken wire, but not too tall, would be good. Unless you wanna go with a short fence too, they have fake ones that are made of plastic and not wood at Home Depot.
 
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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It seems that a "use what you have" approach is emerging. I have large quantities of
pine straw and that is what I use in the paths. It allows me to move around in the garden
right after a rain if I want to. I also use it around my tomato plants.

I find the clover idea intriguing and in a situation where materials were lacking on my property
that would be a good solution. I may convert a path or two to see if it helps draw bees.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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i believe wood chips are idea..but having not had time to mess with them at this point in time I'm using lawn paths with edgings..

my "pre house fire" gardens had 8 to 10 " thick woodchip paths from aspen chips, wonderful..also there were morels in them in the spring
 
Posts: 181
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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I use maple leaves, chopped up blackberry canes, and whatever I chop and drop. I try to use whatever's nearest. Marjoram and lemon balm make excellent edible ground covers where I am, and as I have both in profusion, I'll be incorporating these into my paths, too. I seed Dutch White Clover into my lawn every spring, and when I mow I feed the clippings to my cattle and hogs, but it can be used in any pathway design. I hope this is helpful.
 
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Am using old Jute backed carpet for now but love the idea of permanent beds and growing clover there to enrich the soil. Will try this fall when most of the crops are out.
 
Posts: 46
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I wonder if there is a nutrient accumulation/exchange advantage to having green pathways made of clover, dandelion and other nutrient accumulating ground covers. I think I saw 'skeeter' in one of paul's videos say that he leaves weeds in his pathways to feed the soil. I would think that the mycelium would then be able to ferry those extra nutrients from the pathways around to garden plants. Of course I could imagine some super high traffic paths would be better off mulched with whatever brown organic stuff is available.

 
Jay Green
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We find it so nice that, when we mow between the rows, the clippings are deposited right on the base of the veggie rows...right where they are needed. No raking of grass clippings needed in order to mulch with them. It's another nice feature of having living pathways of clover/grass. One can make the garden look neat and tidy with a few passes of the push mower and add grass clippings to the soil culture at the same time.
 
Posts: 16
Location: Oklahoma Zone 7A
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I live in wheat country, so I use a lot of straw, not only for pathways, but everywhere! I just let it grow in some spots.
It crowds out weeds and dies later on, making a nice layer of organic stuff.

 
Kelly Green
Posts: 16
Location: Oklahoma Zone 7A
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I forgot to say that I think both Irene's and Jay's photos are wonderful.
 
pollinator
Posts: 231
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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When I bought my place it already had an old neglected garden space covered in a mix of clover, weeds, and (not so lucky) bermuda grass. I immediately tilled just the rows for vegetables to break up the clay and kill the bermuda grass, then mulched the beds with straw, leaving the grass/weeds between. I've been reducing the frequency of mowing all around my 2/3 acre yard to encourage the clover to grow tall and shade out the bermuda which is working! Second year and the bermuda areas are shrinking - yahoo! Like Jay, I love to mow the paths and put the trimmings right back on the veg beds. And yes - I have a bazillion happy busy bees everywhere It's just a little bit of work once or twice a year to chop any grass trying to infiltrating the veg beds. I'm noticing that the more I mow the clover, the shorter and tighter it grows, so I'm hoping in a couple of years to reduce my mowing to once a year or even not at all (but I've not previously had experience with clover so maybe I'm kidding myself?) I admire Irene's gardens and strategies for naturalizing, but my full sun areas where I don't tread much will require several more years of food forest planting...meanwhile....

I've done deep mulching on the main paths around my outbuildings and house landscaping with fresh wood chips from an arborist. That was great for a year but of course that soon becomes compost and fertile ground for rampant grass and weeds - and requires annual applications of tons of mulch. Last year I didn't refresh the mulch and had mudpits (albeit lovely black gold I can transfer elsewhere) after a couple of snows.

I'm a huge believer in mulching areas where you want to improve the soil, but for pathmaking it's just too much work and requires regularly importing tons of material (for us small property owners). I also heartily dislike gravel (I work as a gardener in suburban yards where it's very popular) because it needs to be kept clean of organic debris or that also becomes a composted invitation for weeds and grass Edgings also are kind of useless other than holding in a raised bed because you can't mow right up to them, and any rhizomal weeds/grasses just go over or under, so again, maintenance of that edge with a weed whacker or cutting tool is constant)

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Posts: 2
Location: Texas
chicken food preservation greening the desert
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Susan Pruitt wrote: I've been reducing the frequency of mowing all around my 2/3 acre yard to encourage the clover to grow tall and shade out the bermuda which is working!   Second year and the bermuda areas are shrinking - yahoo!  



What variety of clover are you using to crowd out the bermuda? Thanks so much.
 
Posts: 233
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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We have started to rake all the leaves from the lawn into the fenced garden enclosure.  I currently have wood sided raised beds, but intend to just have unedged raised beds once I finish the enclosure and beds.

Pictured is only one season's worth of leaves.  The dandelions had no trouble getting through, but it does suppress the grass.

1469096997025-1176151312.jpg
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steward
Posts: 1821
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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I'm using cedar chips over cardboard on my paths. The garden is at a bit of slope, so I'm assuming that all the goodies that grow in the chips - it was full of mycelium from sitting for a year - will make their way into the garden beds. When I run out of cedar chips, we also have alder chips and maple leaves. So there will always be something. Sometimes some stray grass or bracken fern pops up in the path, but it's easy to pull.
Pathway-2.jpg
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gardener
Posts: 1884
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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When I can get it, I use bag of sawdust from a cabinet shop that uses only wood as it grew, no laminations or finishes in the sawdust. I also put the "weeds" (mostly soem eager annuals with noxious thorny seeds)  I've pulled in the pathways, or anything else I pull up or cut off.  I take the stuff from cleaning the chicken house (manure, sawdust and what the chickens did not eat of the kitchen waste and what ever I gave them.

I sort of use pathways as sheet composting regions.
 
Posts: 221
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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we use woodchips primarily in the food forest.  add a 2 inch layer every...5 years or so.  keeps the weeds down in the paths and make it more pleasant to walk around.  It also clearly delineates where the paths are so visitors dont go tromping around the growing spaces.


In the main garden we use home made "pavers"  made from pouring a small amount of concrete into the bottom of buckets to make circular pavers which we put about 1.5ft apart and step on them as a path.  The whole rest of the beds are growing space, even between the pavers.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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I have been using pine straw in my paths and around tomatoes. I like the look of wheat straw on the beds to go with it.
image.jpeg
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pollinator
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There's no need to make paths for me ... My garden was almost all paved when I came here. First thing I did was to remove some tiles for making small garden beds. Next decision was to build a sort of Hugelkultur on top of the pavement. It works really well!

construction of the Hugelkultur combination with rainwater harvesting system, all on top of the pavement 

some growies in the Hugel

removed tiles to make this sunny garden bed
 
If you two don't stop this rough-housing somebody is going to end up crying. Sit down and read this tiny ad:
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