Last fall I discovered how to get a bird's eye view of my yard via Google Earth and it was rather enlightening. I discovered that the bed on the north side of the house is all kinds of wrong. I already sort of knew that that area had issues. It never really felt right. It was too deep, and the yard drops away as it nears the creek.

There's nothing I can do about the drop off. Well, technically there is but I'm not going to do anything with it. But the deep bed is difficult to organize, harder to maintain and generally visually lacking. The rest of the bed suffers from wavy edge syndrome, something I did a lot of when I was first making gardens at our house.

It wasn't until I redid the back yard that I discovered how much I prefer a nice, bold curve vs. many little ripples. You can see how the bed to the north of the house is curvy for curvy's sake, but the curved oval in the back (really the side) yard, has purpose.

The bulbous nose bit on top is the main issue. You can see how ridiculously deep that bed is. But I like to have garden in that area and I have some nice plants on the tip of that nose that make for beautiful viewing out our living room windows.

So I'm going to take a note from a garden I toured last year (all my best ideas come from garden tours) and create a path through that bed. It should make that garden much more visually appealing and will certainly make it easier to maintain and design. I think it will also add some interest in that area, which, frankly, is needed. I'll reshape the rest of that bed from there, but I'll start with a plan for the path and that should help guide the new outline of the entire area.

As you know, I love garden paths and my most popular (and favorite) Pinterest board is my collection of great garden paths. I'd love to have a garden that incorporated every kind of garden path you can imagine, but I'm pretty sure that would be a mistake. Still, I love the fact that I have a somewhat unexpected opportunity to add another path. But what kind should it be?

I think I've ruled out a grass path because 1.) That seems boring and 2.) I'd have to make it wide enough to easily mow with the riding mower and I don't think a path that wide is appropriate for this application.

However, this path will lead from grass (the path that leads to a bridge across the creek, although some day that might get jazzed up too) to grass, so I don't think anything that is mostly a hard material is appropriate either. Bricks, gravel or even flagstone would feel out of place there.

Some kind of wood plank type path may work, but I feel like a softer, more organic material might be better. So I'm thinking about a walkable ground cover.

I've been down the walkable ground cover route before. When we just had a small path cutting through the garden (before I extended the path all the way to the garage) I attempted to grow all manner of things between fieldstones. I killed a ton of thyme and more than a little Irish moss. It was the combination of winter (frozen, shoveled, stomped on plants are not happy) and some leaching from a screened limestone base I used to set the stones that really did them in, I think. Both of those plants are pricy and covering an entire path with them, sans stones, would be cost prohibitive.

I need a low groundcover that can be walked on, although it would be mostly strolls through the garden, not daily trods. One option I'm considering is Veronica repens or another creeping speedwell. These are very low growing, deer resistant and grow fast.

Of course growing fast is also dangerous because no ground cover knows where it's not supposed to grow and I'd have to figure out some way to keep the beds from being overrun by it. Still, it has the advantage of having a great texture, a short period of bloom (blue or white flowers depending on the variety) and should stand up to some traffic. It also does well in sandy soils, which is definitely what's going on in that area. And Allan Armitage likes the 'Sunshine' cultivar, so that's something.

I'll have to keep thinking on this one. But I'm thrilled to have another place for a meandering path in the garden.


  1. If you want a path you don't have to plant, you might try pine needles. I rake them up under my neighbor's white pine and get bagsfull. Love how soft and quiet they ate

  2. What about pea gravel? I just love the sound it makes as you walk over it.

  3. I never thought about looking at my garden via Google Earth! What a great idea. Let's hope I don't get depressed after I see it. I have the pea gravel on my main garden area and love it. Easy to weed.

  4. How about wood chip mulch? It needs to be replenished every 2-3 years, but around here, the county makes it from trees they haul away and a whole pickup truckload costs only $10. If you put landscape fabric or plastic underneath, the weeds are discouraged. Isn't Google Earth great? Good luck -- I'm sure whatever your do will look good and be an improvement.


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