Planning the Paths in the East Garden

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As the summer draws to an end, I have been thinking more and more about some big changes I am going to make in my garden come the fall planting season. I began the process by focusing on the area in my back yard that you see when you enter by the side gate. It has never looked very good, though it is a highly visible space. (See Planning for the Fall Planting Season).

As a reminder, here’s a picture of the area.

I call this the East Garden in the plan below. The deck (off the right side of the picture) is kind of falling apart and will be removed when we have the time. We expect to create a “patio” around the avocado tree that is in the center of the deck. This will change the flow in the yard and I am trying to keep this in mind. Of course, we have been talking about removing the deck for about five years, and it is anyone’s guess as to when it will actually happen.

In the earlier post I noted that this area was neither passage nor garden. I decided to plant the sides, leaving a more intimate and enticing passage from the “Secret Garden” (woodland garden) to the small oval patch of grass in the far back.

So, for the past few days I have been laying out logs to outline the passage way. The path will either be made of flagstones or maybe decomposed granite. Whatever it is made of, the same material will extend into the Secret Garden so that there is continuity and flow between these two areas. The following pictures show the evolution of the garden from when it was covered with lawn to the present.

January 13, 2006: newly planted border along a fence that was built to replace an old, delapidated wooden fence that was covered with ivy.

August 18, 2008: Lawn will no longer be irrigated. Hoses were laid in grassy area to help visualize path.

March 29, 2008: Lawn is buried beneath cardboard and mulch. (Check out the blog for an excellent four-part series on removing lawn to create a native garden.)

March 19, 2008

December 4, 2008: Failed attempt to use 15 inch long pieces of wood to construct a very rustic path. It was unwalkable.

July 9, 2009: New paths are being considered (logs from “rustic” wood path will be lined up to experiment with different path configurations).

August 18, 2009: First configuration shows turn-off to water spigot. As mentioned above, the path with be constructed of the same material as the path in the “Secret Garden” (bottom of picture).

August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009: Second path configuration.

August 19, 2009: Third path configuration.

August 21, 2009: Fourth configuration with two entries from concrete path.

August 21, 2009: Fourth configuration, viewed from above. Large potted succulents illustrate triangular shaped garden space. We are thinking of using this area for a rock/herb garden. (By the way, the idea to use this area as a kitchen/vegetable/herb garden was proposed by a reader in a comment on the July 10, 2009 post.)

August 21, 2009: Fourth configuration.

August 21, 2009: Fourth configuration.

I promise to continue posting our progress in this area. Comments, suggestions, help with the physical labor are all welcome!

10 thoughts on “Planning the Paths in the East Garden

  1. Just one quick comment: regardless of which configuration you decide on, I would highly suggest making the path wider. The standard suggestion by professional garden designers is 4 feet, for many reasons. It looks more relaxed, somehow, allows for 2 people to walk side-by-side, gives plenty of space for hauling loads of compost, mulch, etc around, and IMO gives an overall feeling of elegance

  2. Dear Li'l Ned, thanks so much for your suggestion. We are probably going to use flagstones and we will definitely keep this in mind.

  3. Hi!<br /><br />I like the 4th configuration–it looks so much better even with the potted succulents marking the entry way!<br /><br />What will you do with the &#39;outsides&#39; of the v?<br /><br />I suggest a bench on one side. Maybe the right side in the picture, which would face toward your house and away from the street, right? I always like benches. A place to sit and have a glass of wine

  4. Hi Rebecca, I&#39;m not sure about what we will do outside the paths. I have been considering a kitchen garden that would extend to the bed south of the deck. This area is kind of difficult because it is full sun in summer and full shade in winter due to shadow cast by the house. A kitchen garden would have lots of herbs and annuals. I love your idea of a bench. There are 2 already in the yard,

  5. I like the 1st and 4th configuration because in both the path curves as it approaches the lawn, giving it that air of mystery when sighted from the concrete walkway.<br /><br />With a shrub in place closer to the lawn the sight lines will be that much more mysterious and inviting.

  6. lostlandscape (James)

    I agree that #4 is my favorite. It&#39;s fun to see your thoughts evolve. The solution of the two paths defining a triangle is nice. I&#39;m sure you&#39;ve seen hiking trails where people are cutting their own lines to maximize the efficiency of moving through space. And when you&#39;re accessing your path from two different directions you&#39;ll probably be doing some of that yourself. I hope

  7. Anonymous

    Full sun in summer, full shade in winter…hummm. Sounds like a nice spot for a dwarf stone fruit tree. Time was when SoCal had more chill hours, but less so now. So I would see your microclimate as an opportunity.

  8. James, I think we are going with #4, and yes I do have some help. We can be bought with a pizza…<br /><br />Anonymous (Rebecca?), do you really think we could grow dwarf stone fruit there? That would be great. I am going to check it out.

  9. I like the V shape as well, but would also suggest you think of the future, where you or friends might require canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. I have a good friend with a walker and she does very well on concrete and decomposed granite. She can get by on a path made of flagstone and pebbles. Flagstone and mulch are a problem, we just don&#39;t walk there. <br /><br />Regardless, what fun!

  10. Thanks for the thoughts, TM. My in-laws are coming to visit in October and though the path probably won&#39;t be done, they could not handle flagstone and mulch! There is another straight brick path on the other side of the deck that goes back to the garage and driveway so there is access, but they couldn&#39;t wind their way on the east side… Will give that some more thought.

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