Garden path ideas: 20 pretty and practical walkways for your yard

Whether you're looking for a cheap DIY solution or something more luxe, these garden path ideas will help you explore your plot in style

When it comes to getting from A to B, our garden path ideas provide the balance of practicality and style that every plot needs. They're a crucial feature for exploring your backyard and can take many different guises.

Garden paths largely affect how a plot is experienced, as they map out the journeys you'll take around it. Whether it's following a meandering trail of gravel that disappears into lush greenery, or stepping out onto a sleek boardwalk that leads to smart decking, the type of path you choose and how it moves through the space can give your garden a whole new perspective.

If you're looking for a design to match formal landscaping ideas, a smooth, paved surface with clean, straight edges will help create a simple but elegant style. Fancy something a little more exotic? Then a walkway of rugged wooden sleepers will help conjure up hot climes and highlight a mass of foliage too. Whatever type of material or approach you choose, it's a great opportunity to reimagine and pep up your outside space.

(York Handmade Brick Company)
Add gorgeous greenery between pavers

A walkway of sleek paving can look super smart, but if you prefer a more relaxed look, why not bring some greenery into the mix?

Positioning pavers further apart to create some fun stepping stones will instantly evoke a sense of play in both adults and children. And of course, planting up the gaps provides texture, color, and even scent. It's also great for encouraging more pollinators to your plot.

(Jacky Hobbs)
Use glass bottles for an eye-catching edge

Adding an edge to a path will always give it more definition, resulting in a smarter appearance. What's more, a raised edge can help with maintenance too, as it will keep materials such as gravel and bark chips away from lawns or flowerbeds.

There are plenty of edging styles to try – from smart stone to modern metal. But if you're on the lookout for cheap landscaping ideas, then this approach might be the way forward.

It's simple – just save old glass bottles then bury them halfway into the soil either side of your walkway. The result feels eclectic and artsy and will give even the simplest of paths a more orderly look.

(Gary K Smith/Alamy Stock Photo)
Create a sense of intrigue

A natural stone path weaving through architectural foliage will bring a tropical garden vibe to any plot.

The mosaic effect of this stone pathway adds a textural contrast against surrounding ferns, rhododendrons and Himalayan pines. What's more, the walkways criss-cross one another which encourages guests to really explore.

Positioning a summer house or even a humble garden shed at the end of the path will up the sense of intrigue further, especially if glimpses of its structure can be spotted through the greenery.

(Holly Crossley/Future)
Walk alongside water

If you have an outdoor living zone that's positioned away from the house, then you'll need a sturdy and stylish path to get there. Whether it leads to an outdoor kitchen, dining area, or seating spot complete with fire pit and sofa, it's bound to get a lot of traffic.

A stretch of pale gravel will do the job well, is low-maintenance, and won't get slippery when it's wet. Add sleek paved garden edging for a smarter look, as seen here, then border with beautiful plants.

You can also get creative with water or ponds – a narrow strip alongside this walkway makes a lovely feature. We especially like how it then channels right under the path towards a statement water wall to the left, creating a more distinct zone for the kitchen and seating spot.

(Holly Crossley/Future)
Go for laid-back logs for your veg patch

The relaxed style of this log pathway is full of natural charm and is also a great approach if you're after a budget-friendly solution. The difference in log sizes only adds to the laid-back appeal, and we love how the warm tones make it feel even more inviting.

Try recreating the look between your raised beds of ornamental veg or fragrant herbs and flowers, or use to get to and from the shed.

(Beth Murton/Future)
Reclaim or upcycle

Use recycled materials for your path to dress your outdoor space in a more eco-friendly way. Incorporating reclaimed or upcycled items into your design not only creates a unique feature for you to enjoy, but it also prevents that item going into landfill.

Ask your garden designer to choose a concrete mix that uses recycled aggregates and replaces Portland cement with materials that would otherwise go into landfill. You could also re-use concrete pavers, flagstones, bricks and cobbles wherever possible.

(Colin Poole/Future)
Lower your carbon footprint

Here's another option if you're looking to up your garden's eco-credentials...

The trend for smart low-carbon homes is really taking off, and this of course extends to our gardens too. There's a real push now to make pavers using less carbon, so do your research and choose the most eco option you can find. This means you can do more for the environment while also improving the look of your garden with the very latest designs.

Bradstone ECO products, for instance, have a reduced carbon footprint of more than 20%. This equates to a carbon saving equivalent to that generated by three mature trees over a year.

Create an enchanting archway of climbing plants

Bloom-covered archways are a fabulous way to elevate a path and make it feel magical. And there are plenty of climbing plants to pick from.

Roses or wisteria will always look lovely trained up and over a pergola or a series of arbors, as will fragrant honeysuckle. A look like this will make journeying through your plot a total joy – why not position a seating space at the end to make the most of the view?

(Mark Bolton/Future)
Journey across your pond

If you've graced your backyard with a garden pond, then consider adding a pathway across the top. Whether you go for a more traditional bridge design or a stepping stone walkway like this, it'll make the scene feel more interactive and adventurous. Plus, it will allow you to appreciate all the sensory benefits that water has to offer to a plot, especially if you bring in lots of pond plants.

Just be sure to keep walkways like this clean, especially in winter when wet conditions can lead to a build up of algae. A slippery path across water can turn into a hazard, especially if there are young children around.

(Jason Smalley Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)
Line with color

You can plant a sea of color around your path for a sensory experience. Planting en masse is especially effective – think bright tulips, echinacea or nasturtium. The bees and butterflies will love it too.

If you're after texture as well as color, add ornamental grasses to the mix. Try miscanthus 'Indian Summer' for its flame-hued stems and soft, feathery tops.

Consider bringing a garden arbor into the scene too. They are a fabulous way to frame the start of a pathway and define different garden 'rooms'.

(Jacky Parker Photography/Moment/Getty Images)
Experiment with scent

For paths that aren't used as often, try adding low-growing herbs such as thyme or wild chamomile. Tuck the plants in-between slate, stones or slabs for a rustic, cottage-garden style look, which will release a beautiful fragrance as you pass by.

Don't forget about lavender, too, which looks lovely as an edging plant. It will add a welcome splash of color along with its relaxing scent.

(Helge Kerler/EyeEm/Getty Images)
Make a tunnel of greenery

If you're after something dramatic, why not create a tunnel-like walkway of trained trees? It will take a little while to establish, but the results will be well worth it. The crab apple allée at Oak Spring, by garden designer Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon, is a stunning example.

For a quicker approach, you can make a living willow tunnel. You can buy willow rods or whips from specialist stores, then it's simply a case of pushing them 12in (35cm) or so into grass and weed-free ground and loosely tying the tops together to form an arch (where they will naturally graft together over time). It's best to do this in winter to early spring, as advises the RHS.

(Sally Anderson/Alamy Stock Photo)
Add instant character with cobbles

Want to inject some charm and mystery into your plot? Then a freeform mix of reclaimed cobbles and paving will create a tapestry of texture that will only get richer as moss and lichen take hold.

Architectural salvage yards are great hunting grounds for suitable materials. Think carefully how best to arrange your finds; a snaking route works well with these smaller components.

You may also wish to emphasize a particular section of your path or a specific corner – try laying a square of paving and fill in with a symmetrical pattern, or concentrate a particular type of paviour or stone in one area.

Once happy with the design, choose smooth, sculptural seating for an uber-chic finishing touch.

Try a raised boardwalk

Add to jungle-like gardens with a series of slick, wooden deckboards that weave through densely planted borders. Designed by Cityscapers, this garden is made even more dramatic by the walkways being set on an angle, at varying levels.

The rich, red tones of the timber are enhanced by the rusty Corten steel risers and are the perfect complementary color for the lush green planting.

(Nigel Correia Gomme/Cityscapers Ltd)
Illuminate the way

Add some drama to straight or curved garden paths with a line of outdoor lighting – these ones will look good both day and night. Made from powder-coated steel their tall, slender design and smooth carbon finish blend effortlessly with simple, clipped box hedging.

When switched on, the neatly concealed lamps shine pools of light down on to the paving, safely guiding the way and adding an inviting touch too. Mains powered, these lights will need installing by a qualified electrician.

(Garden Trading)
Choose playful stepping stones

Conjure up that Secret Garden feel with a series of log stepping stones. Look for ones like these which are made from soft timber and treated to last up to 15 years – they will add a magical touch to a secluded corner. Alternatively, it's a great way to recycle if you're cutting down an unwanted tree in your yard, plus will save you the cost of buying new materials.

With little installation required, wind them in and amongst tall shrubs, tree trunks and ornamental grasses to create a meandering pathway. Nestle them into a bed of gravel or bark chippings, making sure they are level and a comfortable 'stride' apart. And what's best is that you can easily lift and move them whenever you fancy.

Dot them with light

Perfect for outlining the curviest of garden path ideas, these neat, little lights are solar powered. Thanks to their inbuilt sensor they will turn on at dusk and give out a warm and welcoming glow.

Made from ice-effect glass they are robust enough to be left out all year-round. Simply place one every 20in or so along the edge of the path – they can be easily moved if needed.

Combine pavers with pebbles

Super-straight garden paths don't have to be boring. Instead, treat them as a chance to play with different materials and to create bold patterns. Here smooth, black granite planks with their crisp, sawn edges emphasize the width of the walkway and have been repeatedly divided with rounded, white pebbles.

The effect is contemporary, truly stunning and far from dull.

(London Stone)
Build a hassle-free boardwalk

There's something adventurous about a boardwalk and what could be better than having one in your own garden? Cool and contemporary, they make a striking statement, sound great underfoot and, when made from composite decking, they need little upkeep too.

Engineered from a mix of recycled wood fibres and plastics, these boards have all the grain and texture of natural timber and resist the growth of slippery moss and algae.

Mow your own

Your garden paths don't have to be paved, or even hard, underfoot. And, often the most enchanting are those that appear to be completely spontaneous.

What could be more charming than a mown path through a wildflower meadow? Quick and easy to do, you can make the route as twisty or direct as you like. Be kind to your lawn mower by creating your path while the grass is low and repeating fortnightly.

Alternatively, you may want to strim long grass first before mowing neatly. Just check the route is free of wildlife before you start.

(Rebecca Smith Garden Design)

Whether you're looking for a cheap DIY solution or something more luxe, these garden path ideas will help you explore your plot in style.