looking for a garden path suggestion

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

I have virtually no money to spend but would like to make some paths in my garden that set the areas aside from the beds which are mulched. Right now the paths are also mulched and it seems to be just one beige mass...
Any suggestions?

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I bought some cement stones, they were about 15 inches long, and 8 ? wide and 2 thick. I think they were like 80cents each. WAY cheaper than the other kinds.
Then I laid down a thick layer of old shingles and laid the cement stepping stones on top. Then I filled in around them with red clay.

here is a pic

Thumbnail by FrillyLily
Billerica, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi, don't know what kind of mulch you're using but one suggestion is to remove the mulch from the pathways and plant grass, or replace it with sand and/or gravel. All can be done very cheaply or for nothing if the right sources are available. On my property, here in MA, I use gravel, a combination of sand and small pebbles as I have a free supply. Craigslist is sometimes a good source of free materials like that. Your town's Public Works Dept may have sand or gravel available for the taking. Don't use beach sand because it has a very high salt content.

Hope I've given you some helpful advice.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Well, buying stones, however cheaply really isn't an option at the moment. So I need free supplies. I will look into the possibility of getting gravel from the Public Work's Department, that sounds great!

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I would be careful using gravel, I guess it matters what size? I used some pea gravel once, and several years later decided to take it out. A nightmare to get rid of. There is STILL gravel there!
It's shifty, hard to roll things on, washes out on a slope and difficult to rake leaves out of. It 'kicks' out into the yard or surrounding beds, if you run a lawnmower around the area you risk throwing a rock. Also if you have small kids playing in the area, they love to put small rocks in their mouth I found out!
It might be perfect for what you are doing, maybe not.
You might see about using rocks, bricks or lawn edging to make an edge around the graveled area to keep a boundary.
You should still lay a fabric mulch or shingles or something down under it, or the weeds will grow up through it. I guess you could keep it sprayed off and on.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I was able to scrounge brick from a home damaged by a tornado. It was an effort to clean the brick and to lay them but I love the look. I did a herringbone path around the house and a patio in back in running brick pattern. I need to redo the patio and hope to change it to herringbone also.
The brick was a lot of effort but a nice reward.

Just a thought, if you mow around the paths, I would avoid rock, gravel or crushed concrete. They might become missiles when mowed near.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

you could try advertising on Craig's List for some brick or flat rock, who knows you might find someone wanting to get rid of a stash...

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Yes it looks like there would be a case for scrounging around for brick. I think I would like that look. MMM wonder if there is a tornado in our future LOL.

I have no grass so mowing is not an issue.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

No, I wouldn't wish a tornado on you at all.... 8 ) Or all that hard work of hauling and cleaning the brick.

A pretty mulch (free in this area) that really sets off the green is to use pine straw but that color may be too close to the color you already have.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

I have cypress mulch everywhere. I need something that looks different. I have thought about using shell but am looking for different ideas (aside from the fact that I would still have to PAY for shell...)

Cuyahoga Falls, OH(Zone 5a)

Do leaves fall off the trees in Florida ? The parks here use shredded leaves for paths. They are free, of course, plus it would give you an easy way to do fall clean up. Plus - the leaves fall every year so you will always get a new supply.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Leaves don't fall here.... except this year. But it's not an annual thing.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i have pine bark mulch in the beds and river rock in the pathways but there again, rock isn't free. it does define the area however. the garden bed is slightly raised and surrounded by the driveway and by blocks so mowing is not an issue.

Thumbnail by trackinsand
Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

Yeah, I love the river rock look. Expensive though.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Do you know anyone with a tree service there? If they had taken down a large tree, it could be cut in slabs with the slabs being used as stepping stones. Then you could interplant with a green (perhaps fragrant) mulch.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Join your local freecycle or freesharing groups. They're set up in almost every community these days. People give away stuff all the time. Everything must be FREE, no buying/trading/selling, no strings attached. You could ask for bricks, pavers, flagstone, etc. Someone may be doing a renovation and might give you the items if you'll remove them yourself. I got a bunch of beautiful blonde bricks from someone just like that.

Also, notice around town any construction going on, particularly where sidewalks or parking lots are being dug out. My brother recently got us 4 dumptruck loads of broken concrete being removed from a lowe's parking lot. Some of the pieces are beautiful 4 x 6 or 6 x 6 slabs--perfect for my patios. Others are broken and will be laid like flagstone to form paths thru my gardens. Below is a picture of two of the truckloads. My brother had something else in mind for the concrete when he asked the driver for it, but I was so glad he let me change his mind. As soon as it warms up and dries up, we'll start creating my patios with our free concrete.

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

cool, would like to see pics when you get it going.
um, just how do you handle them though? sounds pretty heavy.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I used rubble (broken concrete) from breaking up an old sidewalk to build a walkway along my garage. I used sand to set the stones and fill in around them. The only cost was the sand but I think that you could use dirt - I just didn't want the blackberrys on the other side of the walk to start growing in my path. I also used newspapers and tree chippings to do mots and lots of paths around my garden beds. That was entirely free. It won't last forever - but it looked pretty good last year.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I asked my brother how we're going to move the huge slabs. He is going to borrow a bobcat from a friend. Smaller pieces we'll move by furniture dollies. I can't wait to get started. I wish spring would hurry up!

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

I really like the idea of the 'slices' of tree trunk; may play with that idea. I am a freecycle member and pretty active; I usually just wait for things to be offered but maybe I will ask....

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

Dutch Lady-

Did you ever figure this out? If not, post here and I can tell you how to do this for a high-end look with (most likely) ZERO cost! You'll have to use gas to get the stuff but I have a good idea that we've used here. :)


Elba, NY(Zone 6a)

My DD and I make stepping stones. Concrete mix (sand mix not gravel mix) is about $4 for a 60 lb bag and will make LOTS of stepping stones. We mixed it in a ratio of about 5:1 with water so it was no too soupy. We used sea shells, pieces of beach glass, broken pottery, beads, etc. For the molds we used the clear plastic saucers that you buy for under plant pots, which are very inexpensive and can be reused many times. They also come in several sizes so we bought a few different sizes and looks pretty with them varied between smaller and larger rounds. It is also a fun way to use those "finds" from the beach that you just don't know what to do with. I don't know if you have kids or grandkids but DD and her friend really enjoyed herself (me too!).

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

SusieR - I'd love to hear what you did!! :)

Brady, TX(Zone 8a)

Me, too, Susie R. I'm creating a garden, too, and will need paths.

Springfield, IL(Zone 6a)

Hi, guys! Here's my tip for a free garden path:

Go to your local place (or places) that sell and install granite counter tops. Talk to the owner or person in charge and ask him or her if you can have a bunch of scraps from their jobs. They all have scraps and pieces that are too small for them to reuse and most places pay for them to be hauled off. If they will give you the scraps, you will end up with a STUNNING high-end pathway made up of different types of granite that you didn't have to purchase! When the sun hits the pieces, you will be blown away! :)

Let me know if any of you follow-through on this and how it works. Please post pictures when you get your pathways and/or other projects done!


St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

oh, that sounds really nice!

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

Woudn't the granite be slippery when it's wet?

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Not the back side; it is rough, but very flat. It is used extensively here and the entry walks and steps use the rough surface, with the shiny side used for the risers of the steps and the walls.

edited to add that this was when I lived in Korea☺where stone is used wherever a durable surface is wanted..

This message was edited Jun 10, 2013 8:11 PM

Altus, OK(Zone 7a)

Here is how I'm slowly making a path that cost me very little other than what I guess is a version of sweat equity.

There is a county road (dirt) that has a segment that sits on a bed of rock that is very close to the surface. Every once in awhile the county grades the road and ends up taking a layer off the bedrock. Seems to shear in 2 inch thickness. So the grader pushes all the 2 inch rock sections into the ditch and it is fair game for people to load them up.

Monson, MA

Just browsing Dave's Garden and came across your thread.
I made a great garden path out of broken paving stones from Lowe's and Home depot.
I saw how someone had laid broken black stones with mulch and it looked like slate. You can sometimes pick these up for free. May take a while to do the paths but it is very nice looking.

Central Pa, United States

I like that suggestion of the free granite for paths, and as I'm looking to instal new countertops...might have to ask for what they have in the way of "junk".....(leftovers?)

Everglades, FL(Zone 10a)

Hello Hetty! Living in your neck of the woods, I would say the cheapest and easiest path covers would be pine needles. I went that route years ago and it looked indearing. I might do it again when we get to that point. They're everywhere, free and in time break down nicely. You will have to spray at first tho for bugs- being that this is a "wild" resource. You can get pine needles here from us if need be but I am 45 minutes from you.
My sister did a granite path and unless the granite is tumbled,as it happened in her case, the stones are sharp. If you do the granite, wouldn't a layer of pea-rock first, add to the "packing" and save you a few $?

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

SusieR, that's a GREAT idea!! I would have never thought of getting the scraps from a granite business! :)

I have one suggestion if anyone gets flat pieces, be it granite, sand stone, bed rock slabs from the road, etc......

Lay out your path on the grass the way you want it with the slab pieces you've gathered. Then take an old steak knife and cut the grass, keeping right against the edge of each stone - following the shape of the stone. When you've gone all the way around the stone, move the stone and lift up the piece of grass under it. You may have to remove or add some dirt where you've removed the grass, but the stone will drop down into the shallow hole like a puzzle piece. Doing this will let you mow your path without hitting your stepping stones! I've done this several times and it works like a dream. You will instantly have the little bits of grass in-between the stone pieces which define each stone and creates a path that has a "story book" look to it. :) ....Grass in Michigan cuts REAL easy with a steak knife. ;)

Cave Creek, AZ(Zone 9b)

Glenda's idea will work...have done it! Also making concrete stepping stones while it may sound intimidating is as easy as making mudpies...just don't make it too soupy...lots of video tutorials and places to by molds or make your own. It's cheap and you can do it at your own pace. Quickrete is not very expensive.

Punta Gorda, FL(Zone 9b)

I'd like to know what happened with ButterflyChaser's broken concrete paths and patio? How about some photos and followup ButterflyChaser? :)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

My suggestion is to try FREE CYCLE first..maybe you'll find somebody that wants to give some pavers, or brick away. Put your Wish List out there. Do you have the truck to go pick something up if somebody has it?

West Palm Beach, FL(Zone 10b)

i've tried to join freecycle in my area and i keep getting denied....WTH is up with that????

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

that's strange, for sure! Maybe they have a limit on members so it doesn't get too big?

West Palm Beach, FL(Zone 10b)

dunno - they never reply to my inquiries.

Olympia, WA

Our community (whoever that actually is) cancelled Freecycle a number of years ago - reasons unknown. There are, of course, other recycling ops. Maybe if you just "google" and put your community and the word recycle in the search line.

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