Native Garden Design Ideas: Paths

Create your own way.

Path of Pine Needles Edged with Seersucker Sedge

Gardeners are some of the most creative people! An annual get together of garden writers, You Tubers and Instagrammers brings gardeners from across the country together to tour private gardens in different cities. This year's fling was in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the earliest centers of the native plant movement, thanks to Aldo Leopold. One striking feature of these gardens was the abundant use of paths in gardens small and large. Even in gardens on smallish lots, gardeners added simple one person paths to allow you to walk behind garden beds, often along the property edge. This made the gardens seem larger than they were -- you got a different view of the planting areas and felt as if you went somewhere. Just check out these paths!

Japanese Garden Paths


The variety of paths in this Japanese garden were specifically chosen to encourage the walker to slow and look down. It really works and the path materials changed frequently in this 1/2 acre garden.

Woodland Paths


A thick layer of wood chips was a popular choice for woodland paths. Soft under foot, and completely in keeping with the feel of a woodland garden, the only sounds are those of the woodlands. Several gardeners mentioned getting wood chips for free by calling tree service companies and asking for wood chips when they are working in your neighborhood.

Grass Paths


Many gardens had far less lawn than is typical, even these days. Where gardeners did use grass, it was as paths. These struck a really nice balance between the new aesthetic for adding more garden space and habitat with the traditional feel of a lawn.

Gracefully Curving Paths


The art of the curve was in full swing. This is another way to slow us down and add a bit of mystery as to what might be beyond the next bend. One series of paths was edged with twigs loosely bundled with simple wire.


The Creative Path

Repurposed billiard balls add pops of color between flagstones along a path in a very vibrant garden.


Textured Paths

All sorts of rock and stone were used in combination to make the paths and the walking experience more interesting. The use of so many different materials in the same gardens was interesting because I would have thought using the same material would tie the different areas of the garden together. In these gardens, it was the style of planting that tied everything together. The different types of paths added to the experience.


This all leads to one place. Following your own path.


Happy Gardening!



We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.