KC Gardens

See how garden paths can add beauty and interest to the landscape

Sometimes a path provides a good vantage point to enjoy a garden ornament.
Sometimes a path provides a good vantage point to enjoy a garden ornament.

Paths get us to and from work, school and play. They provide direction, give us a sense of place and bring order to our lives. Paths in the garden provide access for people to enjoy or maintain the landscape, for equipment and even access for the family dog. No matter the reason, a garden path is a must-have.

Path placement should be carefully considered. While it should help take you from one point to the next, it doesn’t have to be straight. We don’t always need to move quickly from Point A to B. In the garden we want to stop, relax and enjoy the scenery.

Meandering paths can generate more interest and excitement in the garden. A bend in the walkway creates a spot to show off a special plant or ornament. When designing, think through a path’s purpose. If it is a main route to a tool shed, a straight shot is probably best. There is nothing harder than maneuvering a loaded wheelbarrow or cart around twists and turns.

Garden Paths V1
A meandering path invites a leisurely stroll through the garden. Adele Wilcoxen
Garden Paths V2
Paths made of various materials, from stepping-stones to mulch, can provide visual interest. Adele Wilcoxen

Several of the gardens on this year’s Extension Master Gardener Public Garden Tour have paths that move you through the garden as well as provide access for maintenance. Some lead you from garden room to garden room with ease. But they also provide easy access for weeding, pruning and planting.

Garden paths don’t have to be fancy; design your layout to fit your needs. Path widths can vary: More formal paths that allow people to walk side-by-side require at least 3 feet of width. Many of the paths on our garden tour are only a couple of feet wide to allow for single-file walking but yet are spacious enough for a wheelbarrow or garden cart.

Materials also vary, depending on your style. Path construction can range from poured concrete to simple stepping-stones or even natural materials such as mulch. On the tour you will see how various materials affect the feel of the garden.

The Extension Master Gardeners Public Garden Tour, May 18 and 19, is the perfect place to get ideas on garden path design. Each of the seven garden owners has created paths that fit their gardening personality. Seeing these personal designs can give you that spark to help take your garden to the next level.

I invite you to join us. I hope to see you down the garden path.

Tickets for this biennial event are available at all Johnson County Hen House locations or at the gardens. Information on the tour can be found at johnson.k-state.edu or by calling the office at 913-715-7000. I invite you to join us. I hope to see you down the garden path.

Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Got a question for him or other university extension experts? Email them to garden.help@jocogov.org or visit KCGardens.KansasCity.com.

Tour details

The biennial Extension Master Gardener Public Garden Tour takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18 and 19. Tickets are $15 and are available at all Johnson County Hen House locations or at the gardens.

Information on the tour, which features seven gardens, can be found at johnson.k-state.edu or by calling the office at 913-715-7000.

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