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Turning Garden Paths into Meaning

When creating a path the number one thing to avoid is creating a narrow path that neither begins nor ends. The idea is to have an approach and a destination of the path, whether it is to a fountain, a bench or a particular flower bed. The end of the path should be near to the house door, and can be done by marking off a stretch of gravel immediately behind the house, and here, the path will begin its journey.

However this plan will not work with a north aspect as the space about the rear of the house would be too valuable to waste as gravel, and another strategy needs created. Though it is a good rule to make paths go direct to their destinations, an exception can be made and even be desirable in a long garden, where a single straight path creates monotony, which should be avoided.

It is better to break up the line in this case, by cranking the path or by introducing an expansion into its length. The cranked path gives the opportunity to allow the primary border to end in a transverse extension, creating a better view and achieving screening.

Let’s say the path begins out from the gravel space directly behind the house, threads through the borders, and ends at a summer house. The space to the south of it may now be taken in hand, and in deciding how much to allot to the border you must decide proportionately how much space to give to a border and to the grass plot depending on your desires. If space permits you may add a narrow border along the southern fence line.

This is the basic makeup of the small rectangular garden, needing a rather simple plan. As a plan, the design ensures a proper coordination of the garden with aspect, with as much variety as may be obtained within so limited a space without over-elaboration. 

This design will not work for a plot with a different aspect, and should not be imitated unless the aspect is approximately the same as this example. As the gardener, you now have to build the picture skyward. You can do this by adding natural objects like trees, shrubs, and flowers, and of such artificial adjuncts as arches, pergolas, summer houses, arbors, etc. 

It is always best to survey your site and create a plan before beginning the work. Stand in a location, in one place, near the house door, or some other central position where you would like to take in the overall view of the garden in the future. Then let your imagination run free, and design the perfect landscape for you, determining where and how you would like to plant. 

You can find inspiration from existing objects as well. The presence of a well-grown tree on neighboring premises may help the picture, enabling you to forget about planting trees on your own. On the other hand, you may wish to plant a tree to hide some unsightly object in the neighbors yard as well.