How To Make The Easiest & Cheapest Path

First of all, do you really need a defined structural path or will lawn do just as well? OK, so you need a path. Is it in a high traffic area? Is it on a slope? Is it muddy? Are you considering concrete or pavers? How much do you want to spend?

Here is the best option to give you a good-looking, well-drained, smooth surface that is easy to modify or pave over later:


· Inexpensive, quarried 20mm gravel (cobble), enough to cover the required area to a depth of 50 – 60mm

· Decorative washed 6 -10mm round pebble, enough to cover the gravel with a layer no more than 10mm thick

· Spirit level

· Plate compactor


· Mark out your pathway plan on the ground with white spray paint or powdered agricultural lime. A normal residential pedestrian path, which allows 2 people to pass each other is 1.2 metres wide. On a new site you may not have to excavate if your levels are correct, but you will need to go a little wider than the 1.2m or retain the edges, which is an unnecessary expense.

· With existing lawn or old garden excavate the 1.2 m wide strip to a depth of 50 to 60mm hose the ground until damp and fill with the cobble. I like to use white quartz gravel just because it brightens up dark areas and looks good but it isn’t always available so make do with what is the cheapest for you. A good alternative is crushed basalt, granite or limestone.

· Rake the cobble smooth with a metal rake so that it is level with the surrounding ground or at the finished level you expect to walk on. Don’t forget to think about drainage by checking with the level to make sure water flows where you want it to go. The path should be slightly angled to one side and be sloping away from the house so that no water sits on the path or flows toward the house.

· When you’re happy with the slope, width, and depth then sprinkle the smooth pebble evenly over the cobble to a depth of only about 10mm. Rake evenly with a plastic rake.

· Hire a plate compactor to compact the entire path. The small rounded pebble will lock into the angular cobble and make a smoother walking surface for bare feet. The gravel will lock into the subsurface ground. On steep slopes of clay soil the gravel binds into the clay when it’s wet and the whole path becomes very stable while still allowing good drainage.

Landscapers often use pebble for pathways but usually you will find a thick bed of round pebbles (60 – 75mm) that swim everywhere and become a nuisance for lawn mowing. Also it makes for an awkward walking surface when you sink into the loose pebble, a sure trap for high heels and uncomfortable on bare feet. Combining angular gravel and smooth pebbles is the easiest, most effective and cheapest technique.