Garden bridges and paths signify a journey. Bridges are generally symbolic in nature of moving from one world into another. These features can be interesting additions to any garden and are especially lovely incorporated into a stroll garden. Garden bridges create wonderful focal points within the stroll garden, allowing visitors to stop and view everything around them. Generally, garden bridges are placed in areas that cross over water; however, these can also be used in places that signify water, such as across a dry bed of pebbles or sand. Bridges can be placed in low-lying areas as well, such as across a small ditch or dry creek bed. The style of bridge is usually determined by how it will be used, the area it crosses, and the type of garden. The construction material also depends on the style of garden; bridges should fit in with the surroundings. For instance, in a natural setting a wooden bridge would be suitable. Garden bridges can be easily constructed from wooden planks, steel, iron, or stone. Ready-made garden bridges can also be purchased from most gardening centers in a variety of styles.
Although bridges are a delightful feature in the stroll garden, it is the path with which ultimately makes the garden. When creating a stroll garden path, consider the overall design of the garden and try to keep within this design. For instance, does the stroll garden have a theme? What is the garden style? Is the garden formal or informal? As with bridges in the garden, a path should also complement its surroundings. The width of most paths depends on how it will be used. To do this, ask yourself who will be traveling through the stroll garden. Will the stroll garden be visited by only a few, or will there be more? Is it aimed for adults, or will children be included in the overall design? The width will also be determined by the desired effect with which you are looking to achieve in the stroll garden. Generally, the width should be large enough for two people to fit side by side or at least the width of an average wheelbarrow. If you have small paths that branch off from the main one, these can generally be suited to fit one person.
Normally, paths are constructed by first using a rope or garden hose to outline its outer edges and clearing the path of any debris or grass. If, however, grass will be the surface of the path, simply define the edges with suitable border material. Once it is cleared of debris, the path can then be leveled out with a rake. Black plastic or landscape fabric fit easily in most paths and can be rolled out along the path, or if needed cut to the desired width and length. Both of these are ideal for keeping weeds down. A layer of sand will help keep your chosen surface material in place, which will be added next. Safety is always an important feature to any garden design, especially along pathways. Make sure there is nothing along the path that will cause someone to trip or fall. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to periodically check the path for any fallen debris, such as tree limbs, especially after a storm. On sloped areas, steps can be added for additional interest as well as for safety. Also consider your surface material carefully; you wouldn’t want to choose something that could be slippery when wet unless, of course, you have an appropriately placed sign warning of such.
Grass, for instance, holds up well to foot traffic; however, it tends to get slick or soggy after a good rain. Grass must also be mown on a regular basis during nice weather; but once cooler weather begins to set in, grass loses its appeal, becoming brown during dormancy. Path materials can consist of nearly anything under the sun depending on the type of garden you have or are creating. Gravel, brick, or stone pavers are used more often, but these too have their downsides. Gravel is usually ideal but may need to be raked down and smoothed over now and again. Brick and stone pavers can get slick when wet and can also be expensive depending on the overall size of the path. Some people even plant moss or creeping thyme between stepping stones, which helps with maintaining traction. Some other commonly used materials include bark, groundcover, river rock, and sand. Once you have determined the surface material for your stroll garden path, you may want to select some type of border or edging for it. This, too, will depend on the overall design of the garden. For instance, natural stroll gardens are informal with meandering paths lined with native flowers and foliage plants. Other forms of path edging might include brick, landscape timers, or stone.
The surface material for a path holds special significance in the stroll garden, influencing movement, vision, and sound. Movement through a garden is determined by its path design. Generally, within a stroll garden you want visitors to walk slowly, taking in all that the garden has to offer. Speed is often affected by the type of surface material your path consists of. Stepping stones are great in stroll garden paths because it allows people to be more conscience of where they are walking. This, in effect, keeps the stroll to a moderate speed and can easily be controlled by adding larger stones or boulders in areas where you would like strollers to notice something. Maintaining a slower pace will make it easier for others to view all parts of the stroll garden. You can also manipulate the speed as well as the mood by changing the path material in certain areas along the way.
Importance should also be given to the placement of the path as this will determine how everything within the garden will be seen. Visual balance is heightened by how the path flows, the arrangement of plants and other objects, as well as the surface materials, all of which should complement one another. Don’t make everything within the stroll garden visible at once. Offer visitors a chance to discover interesting items along the way. The straight or curved structure of the stroll garden path will allow the opportunity to create different views of the garden. This is especially true of curved pathways as every curve has the ability to grab the onlooker’s attention with a new scene. These paths are informal in design and meander throughout the stroll garden, providing the onlooker with nice, unexpected surprises around each bend. Depending on the style of your garden, nearly anything can be used to capture the onlooker’s attention. Good focal points include ornamental objects, interesting sculptures, water features, striking plants, and seating that offers different views.
A path should always lead somewhere, even if it’s a dead-end. In areas that stop suddenly, you can place a bench, an ornamental object, or a decorative gate that will give the impression of distance. Whether it’s a long, winding path or a short one, all paths should be considered a journey to its strollers. Paths should not only carry people from one place to another; they should appeal to their senses as well. The stroll garden should be something that will be remembered. The goal is to stimulate the senses along the way. Flowers are always a good way to accomplish this. Those brimming with an array of colors, shapes, and sizes will appeal easily to one’s sight. Add some scented flowers along the path to stir up one’s sense of smell. Using texture plants can give the on goers something interesting to touch along their journey. Include soft, fuzzy plants rather than spiky ones, especially if children will be visiting. To keep it looking attractive year round, incorporate container-grown plants that can be moved or changed as needed. These could also be used for growing edible plants, such as cherry tomatoes, to give visitors an unexpected treat. Make sure, however, to provide labels so your visitors will know what is edible and what is not. Ornamental objects can also provide further interest; tuck them discreetly within the plants.
Depending on the materials used in designing a stroll garden path, sounds will either be amplified or muffled. Take, for example, the gravel path. As this is walked upon, it makes a soft crunching sound. Add some stepping stones or brick, and the path emits tapping sounds, which may be further enhanced by the type of shoe the visitor is wearing. Placing chimes or moving water features within the stroll garden will also add tranquil sounds along the path. These can be pleasant surprises within the stroll garden as well.
Nothing is quite as satisfying as a blissful stroll throughout the garden. With the addition of garden bridges and creative pathways, your stroll garden can lead visitors to an unforgettable destination-nature at its best.