Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways

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Planning out a new garden path? For the gardener who enjoys a little greenery around their paving stones here are four great low growing perennials you can easily purchase as young plants or  ”start” as seeds on your own.

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Ajuga                                   Irish Moss

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Creeping Jenny                     Lemon Thyme

Ajuga is a very hardy perennial, with multicolored foliage (check out your local selection of cultivars), that is great for growing between bricks, pavers, or rough stone paths. Many varieties are evergreen, and others are semi-evergreen, doing well in both deeply shady and sunny locations.  It spreads quickly and easily through runners, and when left unchecked can become invasive.  Care may need to be taken to keep the plant in the designated spot you choose for it. This is a plant you can feel no guilt in walking over, and is a great plant for areas that see a lot of children’s activities. Prune this Ajuga back every year by mowing over it, and thin it out every couple years to prevent rot in it’s dense vegetation.

Irish Moss is a charming classic that isn’t actually a moss. It sends up a tiny carpet of white blooms each summer, which moss never does, and once it is established in good soil, can be easily trimmed back and spread though cuttings.  This is not a plant that will take over your pathway easily, and will actually need to be planted in every place you desire it to be. When healthy this plant tends to mound in place, but minimal skill is needed to trim off and place excess growth into new areas.  If you keep cuttings planted in good soil, and keep them moist they will establish themselves rapidly, and fill in your pathway beautifully.

Creeping Jenny is a perennial in all but the coldest climates. Aside from having unique evergreen foliage, it also sends up yellow blooms in the summer.  This container garden favorite can be found in most garden centers, and will spread quickly in soil that is kept moist.  In dry climates this plant needs to be kept moist daily, and cannot tolerate dry roots in hot weather. Without care this plant can become invasive, but with trimming it will remain in place.  While Creeping Jenny is an excellent choice to plant in problem areas in your garden that may have moisture issues, or some standing water, it is less foot traffic friendly, and for that reason I don’t recommend it on pathways for families that have small children.  Constant walk-overs, or toy trucks driving though it will be hard for the plant to overcome, and it may never fill in your pathway in the manner you would like.

Lemon Thyme may be a plant you will have to start from seed, since it is relatively harder to find, but the crop will be well worth your time.  This is another hardy plant that can tolerate rough and tumble pathways, and it kicks up a sweet lemon citrus fragrance every time you walk by and brush it.  It can also work double duty as a path accent and a cooking additive.  Cooks often use it in chicken or fish recipes, and it also works as a substitute in baking for Lemon or citrus zest!

Try any of these plants in your garden during the summer months, or order them as seeds mid-winter to place them in the ground this spring, and really get a jump on your garden projects!

Happy Gardening!

Photos Courtesy of: nakaehoneymoon musicthatredhead4,

DIY Rustic Stone Entry Path

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I was the guest recently of a family who’s mountain getaway was adorned with this cute rustic entry pathway!

The winding path leads from the similar crushed stone driveway, but highlights the lodge’s natural surroundings by using rock remnants from the nearby mountains set deeply into the crushed rock bed.

How To Create This Look:

Rock pathways are easily created walkways that can be “One Weekend” DIY projects, and they look great in front of everything from weekend homes to your garden shed! To create this look choose two separate colored stone types, one a crushed stone, and the other a larger stepping stone or garden path stone type.

  1. Choose your location, and plot out the curvature you will build with either a turf grass paint, or a garden hose.
  2. Sketch out and measure your pathway.
  3. Level the area out with fill-dirt, top soil or sand, building the area up above the surrounding grass, or leaving level, simply ensuring that there are no low spots.
  4. Roll landscaping fabric across your path to inhibit plant growth, pinning it down around the edges with either lawn staples, or your larger stones. I tend to spread this fabric a little loosely in case I need to work some of the large stones into the ground a little to keep them level, and solid in the ground for foot traffic.
  5. Set your larger stones first on top of the fabric so you can arrange them in various sizes and shapes  across the pathway.
  6. Set the boundaries of your pathway with either large stone pieces or a firm edging material, to keep smaller stones from wandering into your lawn.
  7. Surround your large stones with the crushed rock in progressive sections. Make sure your large stones seem level as you pack the small rocks around them.
  8. Walk across the pathway when you are finished to compress the materials, and adjust as needed.

What To Do With “Pop-Ups”:

In the picture above there are two large stones in the foreground that have worked their way to the surface to become tripping hazards. A quick way to re-set these pieces  is to grab a shovel and scoop the crushed  from around them. Place the stones back where they came from.  If the ground had shifted, or like the stones in the picture, irregular shapes prevent the stones from laying flat, cut the landscape fabric underneath the area with your shovel, and dig out a little of the soil underneath to set the stones lower in your path. Once the stones are set in the soil and below the level line of the pathway move the crushed stone back.

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Where To Find Your Stone:

Check for specialty stone stores in your area, they often have showrooms and yards full of varieties of stone that will work with everything from outdoor pathways to polished kitchen counters.  Visiting the yards will give you an idea of the actual color of the stone for compairison, and the staff there will be happy to help you calculate the amount of stone you will need for your project if you bring your sketches and measurements in with you.  Make sure to ask a lot of questions, the staff should be able to provide you with tips, ideas, and photos of similar projects to help you make your choice.