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"Hugelkultur" in garden pathways?

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Hello everyone,

I've tried searching around in the forums but couldn't find anything particular to my question, so if I've missed it somewhere please point me in the right direction!

I'm curious if the principles of hugelkultur could be applied to garden pathways? Specifically, I was thinking about burying rotting logs around the edges of existing garden beds in the hopes of not disturbing the beds themselves while still gaining the benefit of water retention and making better use of the garden paths.

I'm uncertain if the compacted nature of the paths would have an adverse effect. Also, would the logs wick moisture into the nearby garden beds or would the roots from the vegetables (this is in my veggie garden) find their way to the moisture in the log? And if the roots did head toward the logs, would compaction of the path then have an adverse affect of the roots?

Lastly, over time the logs would break down and the path will have sunken, correct?

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide!

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Location: Victoria BC
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Hi Alex,

I haven't seen or used this technique with logs, but I have seen a local permaculture designer use sunken pathways filled with LOTS of woodchips, to act as water soakage among other things. Excellent for growing mushrooms, too. I see no reason your idea wouldn't work the same way. Stacking functions, very permaculture!

I suspect that roots from some species will make their way to the soggy logs, but that the moisture level would be improved near the logs as well. The logs should help avoid further compaction below their level, until they are quite rotten.

I hope someone else can shed more light on how the roots of your veggies are likely to react to all this.

The paths will definitely sink as the logs rot, but I don't see this as much of a problem as long as you don't put too much effort into burying deeply, and you have more logs available!
Alex Al
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Thanks for the reply! I'm also not quite sure if the logs would wick moisture onto the path itself. I guess there's only one sure way to find out what will happen! Maybe I'll just try a small section for starters.
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Well, I do believe that what you propose could be considered a type of mulch swale. Moisture wants to move from wet places to dry places, so having wet borders 'should' either moisten the garden or at least help retain their own moisture better. I have been doing my own pathways in a similar manner. Since they are walkways and won't be supporting growies, I figure having good soil underfoot is a waste of valuable resources. So I dig out the soil for use in the garden and replace it with woody stuff. I have tried to maintain a pitch so they also work like a French drain or irrigation channel. They seem to work so far. Nothing ever comes out the overflow basin and the pathways aren't boggy. If you are looking for a drastic or noticeable benefit, you may not be well served, but from my experience...it hasn't ended badly.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have been putting short paths into my black raspberry patch. I dig down about a foot, fill in with rotting wood, edge with logs and cover with woodchips. I am hoping to charge the area with rain and grey water , improve soil, and keep the berry bushes supplied with water without giving them wet feet.
The logs and other wood save on woodchips, the wood chips fill the cavities, and will hopefully prove a deterrent to rodents moving in, a problem I have had with hugel beds in the past.

I intend to do other paths in the same way, I am not up for "building swales on contour ",to subtle for me, but paths that retain water in the land seem like a no brainier.
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