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gardening with Anne McKeon

What is underfoot in the garden is as important as the shrubs, trees, etc, growing in it. Believe it or not pathways and ground surfacing in general can be as decorative as it is functional.

Ground surfacing/covering need not be expensive or elaborate and the variety of surfacing available is endless. Even surfacing done on a budget can be attractive. Never fear!

Simple gravel/pebble driveways and pathways add charm to a site. They provide a cottage garden feel to any site and can be mixed with paved surfaces to add additional character. Gravel is also very useful from a security point of view as footsteps on gravel can generally be heard, alerting occupants of the presence of ‘visitors’ outside the house. My dog Daisy is an excellent watchdog and barks (as many of you well know ) as soon as anybody treads on the gravel walkways around my house. Her bark may be annoying at times, but is useful security-wise nonetheless.

Gravel surfaces are hard wearing and easy to lay. Most forms of gravel and pebbles are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from garden centres or directly from quarries.

Paving is a very popular material for paths, driveways, and patios. Well laid paving is almost maintenance free. Aside from being decorative it is also practical and makes an ideal surface onto which barbecues, bins, coal bunkers, etc, can be positioned.

Natural stone, bricks, and many paving slab types add a well established feel to even the newest of gardens. If laid with imagination even the plainest of slabs can look decorative. Consider leaving planting holes between paving slabs for added effect. If paving already exists on site, remember to blend in the new paving materials to create a peaceful and stylish garden as opposed to a mishmash effect. Materials should not laugh at each other.

Paving can be sourced quite easily through garden centres, DIY stores, stone yards, etc. You should possibly consider getting some samples and placing them in position in your garden before making your final choice.

Another surface worthy of consideration is of course grass. Lawned pathways are very effective, being soft underfoot and relatively easy to maintain. It is quite inexpensive to create.

Coloured mulches are another ideal surface for pathways and beds. They are available in a range of colours including brown, red, green, black, and even blue. Personally I prefer the brown shades but that is after all a matter of personal taste. If you fancy creating a red path then go for it!

Decking timber and railway sleepers also make good pathways and might be worth considering for your garden. Bear in mind that timber can be slippy underfoot and so should be avoided in wet weather. I find that tacking some chicken wire or similar fine mesh onto wooden pathways, decks and steps, though not very attractive, can create a grip and so prevent slippages.

As you can see there are many types of surfaces on which you can strut your stuff in the garden. Think about what your requirements are and what budget you have to work within and marry these with your taste for outdoor décor and you will soon know what surfacing to select. Make good choices!

Happy gardening!

Anne

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