3 elements of a great path

See our favorite new ideas for creating a little journey in your own backyard

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  • A lavender-edged gravel path leads to a glazed container.  Design: Lucinda Lester, Lucinda Lester Design, Santa Barbara (805/565-9252).

    Lavender-edged gravel path

    Steven Gunther

    Click to Enlarge

  • Flagstone path in Pasadena

    A flagstone path in Pasadena leads through a garden underplanted with New Zealand flax shrubs and grasses. Blue-leafed groundcovers create a delicate tracery between pavers.

  • Path in Alamo CA

    Fractured shale fills gaps between concrete pavers in Dennis and Susan Hourany’s Alamo CA yard; yarrow and grasses soften path’s edges.
    Design: Mathew Henning and Heather Anderson [XLINK "http://www.henning-anderson.com" "Henning-Anderson" "" "_new"] Oakland (510/531-3095)

  • Grass circle path

    Grass circles appear to float on a river of black pebbles that winds through a grove of bamboo in Malibu CA.
    Design: Mia Lehrer Los Angeles (213/384-3844) for Lee and Carmen Ritenour.


Scotch moss
Velvet-smooth and dense as moss, this chartreuse-green perennial can be either of two nearly identical plants: the more common Sagina subulata 'Aurea' or Arenaria verna 'Aurea'. Green forms of both are commonly called Irish moss. Both need full sun or partial shade, regular water, and good drainage. They grow everywhere except intermediate and low desert, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Sweet alyssum 
Honey-scented white flowers cover this annual all year in mild climates, or from spring through frost where it's cold. Scatter seed in cracks or gravel, and bloom will appear a few weeks later. There are lavender-pink and deep violet-purple forms.

Creeping thyme
This drought-tolerant, fragrant, crevice-loving plant with blue-green foliage is a classic for paths. Growing 3 inches tall and rooting as it spreads, it takes light foot traffic and blooms all summer (bees could spell trouble if you plan to run the pathway barefoot). It grows everywhere except Hawaii.

Blue star creeper
This dense 3-inch-tall, evergreen groundcover seems made for cracks. Blue star-shaped flowers cover it in spring and early summer. It grows everywhere except cold-winter climates and desert; in warm parts of California, it needs abundant summer water to avoid burnout.



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