What about paths between beds?

Ray Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)January 1, 2013

The paths between your beds should be at least three feet wide. If this seems like a lot of wasted space, imagine kneeling down to work on a 1-2' wide path, or maneuvering your wheelbarrow along skinny paths without damaging your plants. Larger pathways are much more comfortable to work with, and are one of just four improvements that Mel has made on his method since his book was published over 20 years ago. (See his website for the other updates to his method.)

Your budget, your aesthetic preferences, and available materials will determine what you use for the paths between your raised beds. Here are a few ideas:

  • Any fancy material typically used for a sidewalk or paved garden path can be used, including flagstone paths, concrete pavers, bricks, etc. set into concrete, sand, gravel, rock screenings, etc. There are multiple sites on the Internet that give detailed descriptions of how to construct these kinds of paths.
  • Grass, edged along the beds with a weedeater or square-bladed shovel.
  • Paths made from broken-up concrete slabs (free if you're willing to scrounge) set into grass, sand, gravel, or rock screenings.
  • Organic materials (hay, wood chips, grass clippings, etc) over dampened cardboard boxes or newspaper. The cardboard/newspaper blocks weeds, and the whole mess gradually breaks down and will need to be replenished every year or so. One GW member rakes up the breaking-down materials and uses it as a fall/winter mulch for her beds, then places fresh materials down to start breaking down over the winter.
  • If you want a super-permanent path between your square foot beds, take a look at some of the nifty concrete molds available at home improvement stores. They come in many different patterns (random stone, slate and herringbone brick, just to name a few) and are quite easy to use. Depending on the design you choose, they can be used for straight or curved paths.
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