No garden or landscape is complete without pathways structured for safe and easy access. In a garden setting, you might want these pathways to meander and be designed with the appearance of natural corridors, visually appealing as well as functional. Perhaps in a more utilitarian setting you would want pathways that rely less on aesthetics and more on practicality. Regardless of your needs, one of the simplest ways to achieve both aesthetics and utility is to keep the pathways weed free and clear of obstructions.
Clearing away obstacles could be a matter of simply removing them; here is how to keep pathways free of unsightly weeds without resorting to environmentally unfriendly, harsh and possibly toxic chemical sprays.
- Prepare the area of the proposed pathway and its borders. You will need some basic gardening tools like a hoe, rake, and shovel, gardening gloves, and wheelbarrow.
- Completion of your pathway will require materials to cover the exposed soil. These could be old newspapers, black plastic sheeting, pine straw, bark or mulch, pea gravel or lava or river rock.
- If constructing a pathway from scratch, it is important to clear the path initially by hoeing or pulling all grass and weeds and removing rocks and twigs. If you are working with a previously constructed surface like a concrete walkway, clear the open joins and surrounding area in the same manner.
- Hoe and rake the newly bared soil to a smooth and level surface.
- Cover the cleared surface with a thick layer of old newspapers and/or a layer of heavy black plastic sheeting, cutting and shaping as necessary to take in the entire pathway or borders. These materials will provide a medium that is virtually impregnable to weeds.
- Secure the plastic or newspaper as you work with rock or blocks.
- When you have secured the entire area cover the exposed newsprint or plastic with a thick layer of pine straw, bark or other mulch, pea gravel or your choice of rock. When choosing raw material for the finishing covering, keep in mind that mulch and bark can shift or float with a large amount of rain or runoff. Lava rock can be sharp and unstable or awkward for walking.
- The walk or pathway can alternately be interspersed with large slabs of preformed concrete shapes or flagstone, with optional mortar or gravel between each stone.
- Consider a border grass at the edge of your pathway to prevent encroaching grass or weeds.
Weeds are tenacious and can pop up in remarkably inhospitable places. Monitor the returning growth of weeds in cracks, between rocks, and amid spread mulch. Pull newly sprouted weeds while they are small with no deeply rooted foothold. Or use a weed eater or other trimmer to "nip them in the bud."