Thursday, December 24, 2009

Building an Eco-Friendly & Cheap Garden Path

Today I will detail the steps I have taken to create pathways through my gardens. As always I do things the easiest and cheapest ways I can find. I reiterate here that I am a) over 50 b) small female, and c) broke!

Step one is to save all the large cardboard boxes you find, in my case they are from deliveries and cat littler. And of course, the holiday season is a time of massive amounts of packaging, so use it for paths and other mulching projects rather than sending it all to the landfill!

Using a carpet knife, open up the boxes to flat. Be sure to take out the large staples or any other metal pieces. I also rip off all tape.

Step Two, either purchase a large pile of mulch, or if you're broke like me, talk the city chipper into dumping an entire truck full on the driveway!

Step three, mow your path with the mower blades set at "crew cut" blade height. Basically shave as close to earth as you can.

      Before mowing                                                     After mowing
Remember, as always, to dress with safety as well as comfort in mind! And stay hydrated!

Step four, lay down the flattened cardboard along the path. I also use old phone books, junk mail, news print and other compostable stock.

This is mainly a great way to lessen the amount of compostable materials that are sent to our landfills. The added benefit of a nice path is, for me, secondary.

Step Five, start to haul the mulch out to the cardboard path and dump it. This is the most back breaking part of the entire process. The mulch must be at least 3 inches deep but deeper is better.

Final step, rake the path into shape desired. And walk on it often to tamp it down.

Paths that were put down a year ago are holding up quite well considering that I rarely mow, never water, and NEVER use any chemicals. The only way I maintain my pathways is to weed them by hand.

For the more active gardeners, these new paths should work for years! The best part is how simple it is to change the route of the path or eliminate them entirely! And if you do decide to turn part of the path into a planting bed, the compost value of the path ingredients will make for healthier soil. There could not be a more simple way to improve the soil, use up compostable materials that would otherwise wind up in landfill and create nice looking pathway!

You could take it a step farther and add some stepping stones, whatever you'd like!
Have you done something like this? Send me a photo or add a comment tell us how it worked out!