All Things Gardening forum: Need help with designing a garden path

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Ravingbantha
Nov 5, 2017 3:22 PM CST
Last year I had a stop of land on my property timbered, a pine blight was killing off many of my trees. Since then, my wife and I have been trying to decide what to do with this area. But after returning from a Disney vacation, we now know what we want to do.

We are going to turn it into a walk path. The idea is a winding walk path that goes up one side and circles back around to the start, so that you can walk the entire thing and end up back at the beginning. But in between the walk paths I want to plant a series of plants that will help obscure everything around the area. Once upon a time I saw a video on YouTube where a guy had planted various types of plants in layers so that each layer filled a gap creating a wall.

Any help would be appreciated, if it helps I live in Michigan near the coast, so I'm planting zone 6
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Nov 5, 2017 4:25 PM CST
No suggestions for you, but I will be watching this closely. Thumbs up

In our backyard, daughter started creating a meandering path. It's a lovely shady spot in the summer but I want to remove the less desirable plants and add some screening plants, and plants to encourage pollinators. One benefit is that there are two (or possibly three) box turtles who now call that space home.

Good luck with the project. Crossing Fingers! Thumbs up
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Nov 5, 2017 5:58 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Ravingbantha .

That sounds like quite an ambitious project... is the area in question entirely cleared off now? Are you looking for advice strictly about the plants, or also about the pathways? How large of an area are you dealing with?

My first thought is that the planting is going to be rather difficult due to the roots still remaining in the ground from the trees that were taken out. My second thought is that you have a great opportunity to create a habitat for wildlife and/or pollinators. I think a really good resource for you would be your county conservation service -- they may even have grants or other funds available for helping with your project.

Best of luck with developing your walking path area! Thumbs up
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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Nov 5, 2017 6:02 PM CST
What will you use for the surface of your walkway? I would go with mostly native plants which will provide food and shelter for small mammals and pollinators and create a woodsy feel to your walkway. Love your idea!

Search online for a local native plant society which often have plant sales, suggested plantings based on sun and soil type, and other resources. Add a water feature if possible - even a simple dish rock to collect rainwater is nice. I have a simple column bubbler that attracts hummingbirds and other small birds for bathing and drinking. It is mostly pondless (just a small open area for the dogs/cats to drink from) so I don't get mosquito hatches too badly. I did get some pollywogs, but they disappeared before they matured (someone's lunch). Depending on how formal or casual of a look you are after, you can also establish a brush pile here and there. You would then have an full-on nature walkway.
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Nov 5, 2017 6:18 PM CST
@Ravingbantha When I faced designing a path I went to Pinterest for ideas. I got many but narrowed it down and it pleases me. Give it a try.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Nov 5, 2017 6:28 PM CST
I'm not usually a fan of weed cloth, but I did put a double layer down with about 6" of shredded bark on top for an informal walkway in my lower yard. I pull the air-seeded weeds and add a fresh layer of bark every spring which freshens it up and so far I have been happy with the look. The bark is a bit sharp when first spread out but it softens to the point I can easily walk barefoot on it (my personal preference as soon as the ground warms up).


I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

Ravingbantha
Nov 5, 2017 8:05 PM CST
@weedwhacker
The area is not cleared, I've not pushed to clear the area for a couple of reasons, but partially to allow as much decomposition as possible to enrich the soil. The tree roots will be a problem, but I'll deal with what I got, I have considered hollowing out the middle of some of them and using them as a planer, it will help speed up the day and not waste nutrients. My plan is to make the overall area a wildlife habitat while still making things fun. For example, I want to use a large round gourd to make a birdhouse but it will be painted to look like the cheshire cat's head. Another idea is to make bird houses look like fairy houses and hide them throughout the area.

As for advise, I am mostly looking for ideas on how to create a planting that will effectively create a 'wall of plants' but I'm more than happy to have any other advise. As for the size of the area, it's about 2-3 acres that I have available and it's a rectangular shape with the long sides being the northern and southern facings. On the north side of the area, it goes down a short fairly steep hill into a slightly boggy area where the creek boarders on.

@Bonehead
I'm not sure yet what the walk path is going to be, I've got some few ideas but nothing solid yet. I've considered moss, grass, or even just a dirt path. I do plan to add some water sources here and there, but there is a good size creek on the north boarder of my property not far from where the path area will be. As for the overall look, I'm wanting something along the lines of a more wild look, I'm not really a fan of the manicured look.

Overall, I am in the early planning stages I've got images in my mind of what I want it to look like, I'm just trying to get a handle on the planting. Trying to figure out a way to obscure the views as much as possible is a big part of the planning for me.

Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
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Bonehead
Nov 6, 2017 10:15 AM CST
I am not familiar with your native plants, but I'm sure there would be shrubs or small trees of some sort to create the screening you are after, with some ferns or other understory plants below. I have found good resources by searching within my own and neighboring counties coupled with the tag words 'native plants'. Sounds like a great project, and I think you will be happy to create your own wild space. Please do post before, during, and after photos.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Bonehead
Nov 6, 2017 10:29 AM CST
Another thought would be to spend some time in local campgrounds and parks, and photograph vignettes of native combinations that you like. You can then ID the plants and use your photos as loose planting guides. I am finding more local nurseries devoted to native plants and/or having sections for native plants. Most of the native plant societies also host seedling plant sales at reasonable prices (they are tiny but given a couple years will fill in). I am fortunate to have an existing 10 acre woodlot behind our house which I judiciously harvest native plants from (we own this land) - mostly ferns and vine maples.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

Ravingbantha
Nov 11, 2017 10:50 AM CST
@pirl I have looked through Pinterest and I've gotten some ideas. My biggest thing right now is trying to figure out the style of planting that would most effectively result in blocking line of site.

I saw a video on YouTube where a guy was talking about his food forest, and in it he briefly touched on how he planted some trees and shrubs close to each other so that each plant naturally filled the voids left by another.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
Nov 11, 2017 1:15 PM CST
Please post photos of the area/s you want to block. I'm curious.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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Weedwhacker
Nov 11, 2017 9:27 PM CST
pirl said:Please post photos of the area/s you want to block. I'm curious.


I agree

That would make it much easier to offer suggestions!
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