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Southeast Gardening: Planting a Walkway

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

A garden path can be more than a paved passage. With interesting plants you can make a pathway as enjoyable as its destination.

Colorful plants decorate a pathway.

By Glenn DiNella

A garden path is a linear garden, or perhaps a passageway carved into a larger garden. Either way, brushing your ankles are the plants that form the leading edge, the ones that line the path, engage with your senses, and make you want to see more.

When you need to get from point A to point B, you might as well enjoy the journey, right? And if your path leads you through a garden, well, there's no excuse for not stopping to admire something along the way: summer, winter, spring and fall!

Set along the edge of the path, soft, textural plants such as these lamb's ears are favorites.

When I think about it, a path with plantings on each side is like having a flower border you walk through rather than one you pass by. This immersion in the garden can be thrilling. Of course the same principle applies: tall plants in back, and shorter ones in front near the edge.

A long path seems shorter if it is broken into sections, punctuated with boxwoods, arbors, or large pots that mark progress down the path. Then I can plant each section as its own garden or conceived as part of the whole.

Because the path disappears to the right, its end is a little more intriguing.

A path through a larger garden offers a shifting perspective. It looks different when you walk one way than when you walk back. I always want to pause along the way and take a look around, so long paths warrant a landing and maybe a well-placed bench.

Paths can be any length or width, paved or not. Those with a destination I cannot see entice me. I simply want to see what is out there that warranted such a nice path!

By all means, stop along the way and enjoy the plantings.

Finally the most compelling walk of all is one with a focal point, a destination in full view. It can be the front door of your home, a garden gate, an outstanding urn, or a tree in the distance.

The way you plant a path orchestrates the experience of a garden. It is so much more than the way from A to B.


See more Southeast gardening articles.

For more about pathway plantings, see my video.