What to do with space around walkway?

Avon, NY

Hi. First post. I put in a new walkway with stairs and the ground is about 4-5 inches higher than the pavers at a some spots. I dug 12 inches beyond the pavers anticipating that I would fill in the space with a flower bed. Ultimately I think I'm going to "frame" the entire walkway with pants/flowers etc. I'm not sure how to do this with the ground being higher than the pavers. If I backfill the space it will be sloped which I guess is ok. I can plant there and cover with mulch. Of course the mulch may over flow onto the walkway though.

Looking for some ideas or thoughts on how best to address this. Any help would be appreciated.

Thumbnail by sombs Thumbnail by sombs
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Could you add an stone/brick/ etc. edge on the sides of your walkway?
Sort of...framing it?

Then add some good soil behind them and you will have a bed to plant in.


Avon, NY

Quote from Gitagal :
Could you add an stone/brick/ etc. edge on the sides of your walkway?
Sort of...framing it?

Then add some good soil behind them and you will have a bed to plant in.


Yep that's something I could try. I think I'll put a couple in and see how it looks. Thanks for your response.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

You have created a sunken area that does not drain.
You have created an awkward path for walking where you step down 1-2 steps then step up a couple of steps in a very short run.

1) Redo the work so the large paved area is the same level as the lower step. (It looks to me like the planter area near the house is about the level of the lower step, so do not dig any deeper than that)
Then surround the area with another step up where it is needed to meet existing grade.

2) Add 2 steps up around the existing work to meet existing grade. Include a sump pump to drain the area when it rains.

3) Follow Gitagal's concept of a retaining wall, but push it back into the soil to create a rim of soil around the lower area. Perhaps it will be enough to take up the water when it runs off the paving.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Had a similar situation in part of my garden, got hold of some old wooden scafoling boards, these are well weathered, thicker than old floor boards and are about 8 inches X 1 1/2 inch, you may find them at builders merchants, they have to replace there boards regularly for health and safety or just plane old damage. Try reclaim builders merchant where they sell old building reclaim stuff like fire places, old bricks folk use to try match there old home when extending etc.

Place the long lengths of wood against the back taller edge at the lawn, use either wooden stakes or metal stakes to hold the boards firm in place, afterwards, work on the soil at the footpathsas this is lower.
Add plenty of humus as you dig and maybe, depending on the plants you select, add slow release fertilisers / feeds, my preference for slow release feeds is, blood / fish / bonemeal, you buy this ready mixed and please, will any feeds,make sure you read directions AND dosage, too much burns plant roots and too little is useless really.

I think a LOW hedge of Lavender bordering the foot path would be very nice, also as you walk past or the wind moves the flowering stems, it throws up a nice perfume. it's easy to look after as it is like most herb type plants, it likes poorer soil, all you need do is prune / trim off all the stems that had flowered that year, this rejuvenated the plants to give even more flowers the following hear, you can also add some spring bulbs along the walk way, Daffodils, tulips, etc, these give you nice colour for spring when the lavender is NOT in flower. for the Lavender border you need good drainage as they like sun and very well drained soil, maybe having to add some grit or sand to the soil to help with drainage. you can get away with a narrower width of border for the lavender, search for a taller growing type of lavender so it can flop over the soil and a little will grow onto the footpath as you walk by you smell the perfume. this border needs sun.

Low growing BOX can look nice too, gives an outline to the area, evergreen and only needs clipping 2 times a year to keep it down to size, and bushy, time for clipping is around March / April depending on weather, and again August . September, any later, IF you get frost snow, any new growth can be damaged by the frost. Other than that, leave it alone. snip off ALL the little growing tips end of the branches, this helps it to quickly bush out. make the Box into balls, cubes, spirals, or just a plane attractive low growing hedge. This likes sun BUT not as much as the flowering borders, and plenty humus added as it has to sit in the soil for many years.

Lastly, IF your up to it, make a beautiful mixed cottage plant border, for this, unless your border is about 3 feet wide /deep or more, these borders dont really look good, you can see through them if you understand what I mean. Also for these borders you need to really go to town by adding heaps of manure / humus to the soil and dig this into the whole border these beautiful plants all like a rich humus filled soil, BUT, the choice of flowering plants are endless, from Delphinium, Lupins, Iris, Roses and low growing Nepita etc, for ground cover between taller plants. All when planted properly look stunning, BUT less so all winter as these plants mostly go into hibernation till the following spring. again use flowering bulbs that stay underground in summer and come out early spring before your Perennials, The perennials do take some work in as much as some plants need staking, others need continual dead-heading to help keep them flowering, BUT being from UK (Scotland) there is no more beautiful site in a garden than a lovely long or winding Herbaceous Border so I'm biased LOL.

My advice would be to take your time, you have to get it right for YOUR needs, the amount of time you can give to look afetr the garden, finance also plays a part too as gardening can cost a fortune IF you allow it.
Go look at any city owned gardens to have a look at there beds / borders, even speak to the gardeners, Take your camera as when you get home, you wont remember the plants you really likes and what grew beside them to give the perfect effect.
Go to the local Library / Book stores to look for books on beds / Borders, Every time I visit USA I arrive home with several books that are in plane English, no fancy or technical use of terminology and are easy for the lay gardener to understand. these books give great ideas, some show HOW to make the borders, how to dress the soil and whaere to plant such and such a plant and what looks good beside each plant.
I have a great little book specially for beds / borders for ALL seasons, how to make the borders and spacing out the plants etc. it's a small book called "The Well Planned Garden with many easy to follow plans for Beds / Borders the Author is by Sue Phillips, I'm sure it's available in USA.
Books like the ones I'm suggesting dont have to be followed page by page but what they do and do well is, give you information for a beginner, pictures to give you ideas, the way to measure and lay out beds and Borders And the best part, the name of the plants and how many you need to make a good show with your plants. Never plant floweing borders with one of each type of plant, you need to plant in blocks, say 5 Delphiniums, BUT One Rose, Roses fill out a larger space and the stuff like Delphiniums need more plants to fill the same space, ALWAYS plant by ODD numbers never just 2 plants, 3-5-7 plants look better as even numbers look like a row of soldiers.

Hope this helps you get some differing ideas to chew over and help you look at different methods to sort out the soil problem you have.
Do take your time to plan the job, gather all the tools and equipment you need, make a costing of the products too because once you start the job, your more or less committed to go the whole way OR end up with a mess till you can fund the job.

Be careful to draw a plan, make sure there are no cables, drains or other dangerous stuff as you dont want to dig into an electric cable or phone lines, water pipes are always being broken by gardenrs who dont look at the whole lay of the land and it's costly not to mention dangerous.

Good luck. hope this covers a load of stuff perhaps you never thought of before and it always saves time and money when your forewarned.
have a great time making the garden of your dreams, remember you don't have to plant the whole area up in one go, in-fact, you get to know your plants better when you take your time, you are able to spot any problems and fix them before you have spent a fortune on miles of border plants.
Lastly, just enjoy your new gardening hobby, there is no race, no one will knock your door and ask what your doing and how long will it take, gardens are never made in a day, the quick fix you see on TV programs of makeover gardens never show you the garden 2 years later when all the perennial weeds have regrown, the plants are half dead and the garden is back to square one again because the owners have no idea how to look after them.

Good luck and kind regards.

Frederick, MD

Yeah!! I think Adding stone/brick/ etc. edge on the sides of your walkway will give a nice look, or you can also try out adding up 2 steps around the existing work to meet existing grade. Recently, one of my friends had their front yard and driveway paved from paving contractors Rockville MD :- http://www.capitalpavingconstruction.com/component/content/article/13-demographics/maryland-towns/122-rockville-md-driveway-paving-company.html. The suggestions given by contractors were really great, to give a new adorable look. you can also try out taking help from such professional near to your area and get some idea of design patio.

Lynnwood, WA

Nice looking new walkway! You could install a ledge stone wall to tie up the grade while leaving a planting space between the walkway and the wall for planting and in turn soften the wall. In the past, I have also used juniper timbers to contain grades- they are naturally rot resistance , smell good when the sun hits them in the summer and provide a seating area where it make sense - normally offered in a 6x6x8 dimension but I am unsure if they are available in the northeast

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