how to build paths
'How do I build garden paths properly?' We show you step by step how to lay a path properly, if you want to build your garden path yourself. We give you valuable landscaping advice, so get your spirit level, spade, trowel and cement mixer out and start laying some garden paths!
The secret to laying successful gravel, slate, shingle or granite chippings paths is to plan carefully and have all the required materials and tools to hand before you start work. For all loose surfaces, an edging of some description is required, to prevent it escaping to the rest of the garden.
step 1 - clear the site and markout
Using a scaled plan of your garden design, mark out the position of your paths, with pegs and line. Clear any vegetation from the area and dig out soil to a depth of approx. 150mm (6") with a spade.
step 2 - edging in stone or concrete needs mortar
For stone or concrete edging mix a mortar at a ratio of 3-4 parts building sand to 1 part cement. Place the mortar at the edges, position the edging material into the mix ensuring the correct height by gently tapping with a rubber mallet. Use a spirit level to ensure they are level.
step 3 - edge higher than surface - retains gravel
Remember, the edge should be higher than the surface to stop the gravel spilling out. If it is placed next to grass, ensure that the top is at least 10mm below the height of turf to prevent mower damage. Instead of stone edging, you could use planed timber, logs, or wooden sleepers which dont need concrete - secure with wooden pegs.
step 4 - layer of hard-core over the base of path
Now place a layer of hard-core over the base, to a depth of approx. 100mm (4") and firm with a vibrating plate. If you have a small path you could do this with a garden roller.
step 5 - layer of sharp, sand, hoggin or fine gravel
Cover this with a layer of sharp, sand, hoggin or fine gravel to a depth of approx. 25mm (1") and firm again. This will help the hard core from showing through the top layer in the future.
step 6 - gravel, slate, shingle, granite chippings
Now place a layer of gravel, slate chippings, shingle, granite chippings, or any other loose surface of your choice. Rake to correct level, and gently hose with water to clean the material.
DIY tips for your gravel path project
• If you spill mortar on edging, wash with water to prevent stains.
• For a curved edge, use a hose or rope as a guide.
• Although many people lay a weed proof membrane over the soil and then add gravel to create a path, this does not provide a firm foundation for gravel, but will be fine for bark chippings.