Wood Garden Pathway Ideas (Perhaps For My Walking Path?)
In my spare time lately, I have been devouring landscaping ideas online. I can’t get enough, and my mind is spinning with ideas that I want to incorporate into our landscape on our one acre of land.
One of the things that I really want to figure out soon, and hopefully get started on this summer (because it may take two or three summers to complete) is the long walking path that will go around the perimeter of the entire back yard.
That path is so long that no matter what material I choose, it will be a huge and expensive job. But I really want something that will be unique and add character to the landscape.
That brings me to wood walkways. I’ve come across two different wood walkway ideas lately, and both are amazing. The first one is from April Wilkerson on YouTube. She built a frame using treated lumber…
And then, instead of using real wood for the walkway, she used Trex for a no-maintenance boardwalk. You can see the entire building process here. It’s such a fun project to see from beginning to end!
I absolutely love her wood walkway. I don’t know that that exact plan would work for our yard because I have to think through what would work for Matt. With him being in a wheelchair, a raised wood walkway wouldn’t really work because he couldn’t maneuver from the raised walkway onto the grassy areas and back onto the raised walkway. He’d either have to stay on the raised wood walkway, or stay on the grassy areas.
But if I could find a way to have a wood walkway that is level with the ground, that would be ideal! Since Matt uses a power wheelchair, and it’s one that is made to maneuver over grass and gravel with ease, if the wood pathway is level with the ground, he would be able to get on and off of the pathway with ease. (Also, snakes are less likely to hide in a pathway that’s right on the ground, whereas they could easily hide under a raised pathway. Eeeekk!)
And that brings me to this pallet walkway from Garden Answer. I’ve shared before that Garden Answer is one of my absolute favorite YouTube channels to watch. I watch her videos and dream of the day that I can have a beautifully landscaped yard, and I can only hope that mine turns out half as beautiful as hers.
But back to her charming wood walkway. She made hers out of wood pallets, and it’s just perfect. I don’t think that would work for ours for several reasons, but the main reason is that pallet boards aren’t uniform, and they aren’t wide enough for a wheelchair to maneuver easily.
But the way that she made her pallet walkway was really unique. She simply placed the boards directly on the ground (on top of mulch), drilled holes in the ends of the boards, and then secured them using these long landscape pins.
So now I’m wondering if I can combine ideas from those two pathways to create a wood pathway that would work for our specific needs. Instead of pallet boards, I would want to use Trex, or at the very least, I would want treated boards for ground contact. And perhaps I could put down some gravel or crushed granite as a base so that water could drain away from the boards. And then I could secure them in place using Laura’s method of securing them using long landscape pins.
I’m going to have to think through this, take lots of measurements, compare prices of Trex and treated boards, etc. Any idea that I’ve come up with for that walkway has been pretty expensive just because it’s so long, but I really do want to find a way to make a pretty walkway. I’ve considered gravel, crushed granite, a mulch pathway, concrete, asphalt. If I could choose my absolute favorite material for a pathway, it would be wood (or Trex). I may have to start a GoFundMe for my pathway. 😀 Just kidding. But once I get started, it’s very likely that it will take two or three summers to finish it. I’m definitely on the very long-term plan as far as landscaping goes!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I would contribute to the walkway go fund me! Your content brings me so much joy and I’d love to pay some back!
When I have head scratcher landscape challenges I contact the landscape arboretum associated with our land grant state university. Perhaps Texas A&M has the same circumstances focused on plants and environment of Texas. I live with 4 seasons so heat & cold/snow/ice extremes that impact surfaces, expand/contract, certain weed & invasive species, mulches that impact plants or harbor unhelpful bugs like gnats, etc. You get my drift. The local university should be able to guide you into circumstances so you don’t accidentally make any mistakes. It is my understanding there are improved permanent surfaces for decks/walks…. less fading, less hot, less slippery when rained or snowed on.
Given the magnitude of your awesome yard I would definitely tap expert resources.
All the best on your garden adventure.
Bite the bullet and go with a concrete sidewalk. It will last forever and can be swept and cleaned easily and won’t sink when it gets wet like wood/Trex will invariably do. Maybe you can do it in sections as you can afford it? Line the walk with brick for a more rustic look. Gravel is messy and hard to keep smooth and clean. Asphalt needs to be sealed often to keep water from soaking in and cracking it. Power wheelchairs are heavy. I vote for concrete!
I agree with Kathy. Landscaping is a lot of work, fun work, but work. You need a pathway that Matt can easily access and use but does not require a lot of maintenance. The only maintenance concrete will require is the occasional pressure washing. If you want something a little different, just have them stamp the concrete. Let your flowers, greenery and water features be the focus. I also think that concrete will be less expensive than some of the options you are considering. This coming from someone who just spent $17,500 repaving their driveway; although it is a big driveway 🙂
So locally there’s a park that used white composite PVC boards that are nailed down to mark spots in a gravel lot. At first it looked nice, but over time they’ve curled up and doesn’t lay flat years down the road.
Trex is beautiful, but I think the use of that material is going to be more costly than other things you’ve looked into. Some 12’x12′ decks easily are 10k+ easy.
I’m on an HOA board and we got a trex deck with stairs. The stairs get maintenance quite more often than I expected. There’s also a ramp along a hillside, we are typically replacing the structural joists where it can’t breathe underneath despite being ground contact.
When building a boardwalk I’d look into using some butyl tape in strategic places to extend the life. But it’s not going to save a structure completely on the ground. I’d say every 2 years you’d be redoing a few sections 10-25% if it’s flush with the ground.
Overall with both ideas, you are signing up for a bit of maintenance.
I’d lean towards a stabilized gravel (or mulch) path because it’s easier to use a few hand tools to fix a path. Over time you could add concrete or pavers in problem sections as needed.
Honestly go out and explore some new *paths* as research with the van. For local governments, they have the same ADA goals and are rapidly building out 8’+wide multi modal paths lately. You might find something you like.
I think you’d be astounded at how much money you could raise on a gofundme. I know I’d be happy to contribute, since you’ve provided so much entertainment and food for thought with your blog.
I had a partially raised perennial garden made from treated wood – we used to call them railroad ties. Also I had a neighbor who made a walkway through her enormous garden with the same material. Lots of drainage stones etc. They were expensive and difficult to build but looked lovely- for about 10 years. Maybe less. The treated wood didn’t hold up as we had hoped. So paid again to get it torn up and replaced with cement stone blocks. Our neighbor also had to tear her wood walkway up for the same reason. She replaced it with field stone embedded into the ground, as your pictures from IG last week had done. Those have lasted over 30 years and it’s still quite enchanting. We have northeast winters, so I’m sure that was a factor with the treated wood not lasting. Just a FYI. After all your hard work and expense you want to enjoy it for a LONG time.
I recommend stone dust or a compacted stable gravel path to control costs and get you a fully usable path ASAP:
Here’s a stone dust path overview:
This link is about using gravel to create an ADA path — includes links to outdoor feature standards:
I totally agree with this. The “flume” sized stone -almost like flakes- gets compacted and then performs like concrete. For a small fraction of the cost. Neighbors have it between the stable, pasture gate, arena, etc. and that stuff does not move, even with 4 horses using it. It looks amazing, too.
Garden Answer is by far my favorite garden page! I’ve been gardening forever and enjoy all her unique ideas. We have a trex product on our deck and we love it. The only downside is that it gets very hot in the sun. Hope you can find a good answer for your path.
I’ve been following you since the condo days.
And I must say, I chuckled when I saw the phrase “in my sister time”
Really? Haaahaaaa. I only get a third of what you accomplish and I’m exhausted.
That’s for always having quality posts and discussions.
I love the idea of a wood pathway. My Dad has made several Adirondack chairs out of pallet wood and they do not rot! He gets them from a fireplace store so they are thick and heavy duty. They are super hard to paint because they are treated with something that makes them impermeable! Something to consider that is much cheaper (FREE!) than Trex.
We used a DuPont gravel stabilizing grid for our patio several years ago. It has held up really well, little to no maintenance and it is beautiful. A wheelchair could easily go between the walkway and the grassy areas, and you don’t “sink” into the gravel area thanks to the grid. I’ve included a link to a video.
This sounds like a great solution! Gravel, stone, bark, rubber bark could all the used. I do think you would still want some kind of hard barrier (concrete curb?) between this and the lawn so that upkeep is easier.
Thoughts of using any kind of wood for this project are, at best, a semi-temporary solution.
This is awesome!!! I wonder if you could further stabilize the gravel with that new “glue” that you pour over the gravel, and when dry, the gravel is a solid surface! I’ve seen it advertised on T.V., but I don’t remember what it’s called. (I’m sure I saw it on HGTV as a commercial)
I would NOT do a wood walkway. #1, a treated one does not last. We had one and stained it to match our house, which was gray. Every other year Mister was re-staining it, pulling up boards and replacing the surface boards or the support boards. #2. If you go with trex type decking, what do you do with curves, where you would maybe need a wedged type end? And you will still have wood supports underneath, which is a maintenance issue again. I personally would want a more permanent walkway, especially if it isn’t raised. And I would include a few small areas along the path big enough to allow a small patio to pull off on and sit for reading a book, having lunch among the garden, etc.
We were at a beach last fall and walked about half a mile on mobi-mat. It was anchored to the ground semi-permanently, appeared to be made of recycled rubber or plastic, curved nicely, and allowed the sand to sift through it. What I find online is blue, but this was a nice light brown.
I vote for using the Trex directly on some sort of gravel bed, then pounding in with the long landscape screws. I would imagine that using landscape screws on Trex should not be a problem. I don’t care for treated lumber of any sort as they don’t stand up over the long haul. Or at least they don’t up here in the Northeast.
You should ask Trex to donate the material for publicity on your blog.
I’ve heard that Trex gets hot enough to burn feet. Not an issue for people with shoes or sandals but your pets may not want to use it. Packed gravel with a border might be nice.
Kathy, you are correct about Trex getting hot. At our old house I could not walk barefoot on deck or stairs. Hotter than hot sand. My grandkids cried.
About wood, it can be extremely slippery after a rain or just morning dew. I got a broken tailbone by slipping on a wood walkway at a local park. I don’t know how slippery Trex might be.
Have you considered pavement? I live in Massachusetts so concrete is damaged by frost heaves and salt used to melt ice and snow in winter. We did a pavement walkway to an efficiency apartment in our walkout basement for our daughter. It looks nice with soft plants spilling over the edge and is pretty much bullet proof. We love it so much we’re considering extended it to go between the garden beds around the back of our home. There are also epoxies available that lock stones into place if that might be an option.
This is a fresh water lake in the dunes near where we live. The trail goes over the lake and through the dunes and almost to the ocean. They used pressure treated guard rails and now trex on the walking planks which are doing well since conditions there can be pretty wet and windy. I think you have a great idea and you don’t have to do the whole thing at once.
Garden Answer has very little humidity which is why the boards don’t rot out. Not the same in Texas.
What about the recycled product used in playgrounds. They are made from recycled rubber and are suppose to be eco friendly and wheelchair accessible. Or a stamped concrete to look like flagstone or maybe look like wood? Concrete can be colored?
I agree. A concrete path stamped to look like wood is another way to go, something like this one:
I came to say exactly what Carissa already said…
If you’re planning to edge your beds with fieldstone as you showed as last week I think that having wood walkways will look very busy. Maybe you could turn your fieldstone ending into a meandering path through your yard. Big project, though.
Love your posts and your house!
All I know is that wood, even treated, does not hold up in extreme heat. We’ve lived in Florida and Arizona.
Would your husband have a problem with a brick sidewalk or a concrete one? That would be much easier to go on and off, I think. Also I would think it would take less maintenance than a wood one, and not get in the way of mowing or weeding.
I don’t think that laying the wood directly onto the grass or gravel will work well over time. I believe it will end up settling and then be uneven for you. Maybe get some ideas from local parks and talk with them about how they keep their paths so level. Otherwise I’d vote for a boardwalk style for durability. Good luck! Can’t wait to see this come to life!
We had paver patios installed in both our front and back yards about 6 years ago. They had to dig down to begin the prep process of installing the pavers. The paver sidewalk from the back that comes around one end of the house lines up perfectly with our driveway for a smooth transition. Could you use the same process but instead of stone, use wood. You would dig the depth you needed to be level with the yard and driveway when finished. Just a thought.
If you can go with pallets do so!
1) Can find them for free on Facebook marketplace, or just ask around local businesses.
2) Consistent enough sizes that you can build slowly and if any don’t work can replace a board.
3) I used porch and floor paint to treat mine and after four years exposed to the elements they still look new after a power wash
4) Not super difficult to dismantle and a great project if you need to work out frustration
I’m not sure if anyone else posted about this. My hubby says ground contact p.t. treated lumber, can be shallow dug to create a “floating” type deck that creates walkways. He built one years ago. I don’t build, but he does all of our projects and that deck walkway is still going strong 20 =/- years later. I am so excited to see your landscaping begin!!!
I will say there is maintenance, I don’t want to leave that out. I think every decking surface is going to have repair/replacement as a factor always. I really love that dupont surface grid, I watched the video and thought about my own driveway. We have also used the gravel dust for our horses around paddocks, water areas, etc. it does pack tight and was very easy to lay out and level.
I think a Go Fund Me page is a great idea, you have a unique situation and that is what those fundraiser are for! Just my two cents worth until you have a go fund me page! 😂
Pallet walkway boards are not thick enough to bare the weight of a wheelchair. nor are they meant to lay directly on the ground,ie. can not make dirt contact,. they’re not pressure treated. what about going to your arboretum or public parks and seeing what materials they use? they have to make their paths wheelchair accessible . you can rent a compactor and bring in the correct crushed rock or granite for a very firm good path that will need little maintenance. A yard blower keeps the leaves and debris off and the rocks stay and don’t blow away.
I’m vehemently against anything made from pallets except maybe—pallets.
I’m not sure what the appeal is. Most of the ones I see are split, moldy, thin pieces of wood that when left outside, are quickly destroyed by the elements.
To me, if you’re not using treated lumber or TREX outside you might as well use cardboard.
I agree. Pallets should be left as pallets
You need to consider maintenance. Think of your porch!?! Minimum every five yrs you will be staining an acre long trail of decking!! Even trex will have maintenance, not to mention the cost would be astronomical!!
I think others are right, there are materials that truly compact down tight! Easy to upkeep and repair if needed.
Have you taken your landscape plan to a nursery for them to price out the plantings? If not,I would suggest you might, so you can get a budget in mind for the complete scope of your landscape. You still will need to factor in things such as landscape fabric, drip/sprinkler system etc. and $ added to your monthly water bill.
Just some things to think about 😉
How about stamped concrete? More durable and prettier than regular concrete. I wonder if you could stamp it yourself after it was poured?
Well, everyone else has said this, but I will, too. Wood is a bad idea. It’ll be rotten before you know it, and you’ll have to replace and repair it constantly. Even Trex, I’ve heard, can degrade over time.
The absolute best solution is concrete – either fieldstone sunk into concrete or maybe a nice dyed, stamped concrete. That would yield maximum longevity and minimal maintenance. Of course, it’s also pricey, but sometimes you really DO get what you pay for.
Two suggestions. One would be cedar. Like split cedar posts, laid over a gravel bed with good drainage. Maybe even a laid cedar post/stave/post/stave might work, and last a long time. Very rustic and Texas. I have no idea the cost, tho.
The other would be to use shu shi ban [sp?] Burned/charred wood then treated with lindseed oil to keep waterproofed.
Another Idea might be to have different sections, in themes with different type paths. As a way to try out what will work the best.
Concrete definitely gets my vote. Asphalt will track in the house and other materials can shift and move. Concrete can be done in small sections and lends itself to DIY. It was definitely the preferred way when my Jim and I went for a walk!
I vote for low maintenance, either concrete or pavers. Both will last forever. You wouldn’t have to do it all at one time, take an area and do some plants and the path to get your feet wet.
Couldn`t you install intermittent ramps along the walkway so Matt could use the walkway and the grass
My two cents–I made my boardwalk around my back yard 8 years ago out of treated 5/4 X 6 inch deck boards cut into 30 inch lengths from Home Depot. The base is 2×4 laid directly on the dirt. The decking is screwed into the 2×4. They are now weathered gray and look beautiful. No curling or warping. I am in the north Texas area.
So, Trex does move or flex. We’ve used it in a non-standard way–we used construction adhesive and concrete anchors to put Trex over our small covered concrete porch. The small entry porch is surrounded on three sides by house and repouring it wasn’t an option. Anyhow. After two Indiana winters the Trex is still okay, but not great. It’s certainly not a flat uniform surface and we’ve had trouble with a few boards warping badly enough to pull a concrete anchor right out! There’s one board which has cupped as well. We know we used the product in an improper way, so our issues may be 100% due to that. But before you commit to Trex I’d make up a small sample of your idea and leave it to bake in that hot Texas sun for a very long time. And while you guys don’t have the freeze/thaw we do, you seem to be getting more freeze than you used to!
Also, when I first started reading this post my thought was “This is one to hire out, Kristi!”. This does not seem like a project you’d enjoy, even spreading it out over summers. Do you really think you’ll choose to dedicate time to the walkway? If it were just building, sure. But you’re going to have to get all the foundation right first. Levelling out the ground and all that…bleh.
Pinning those boards directly into the ground with no serious prep underneath is a recipe for disappointment in very short order IMHO.
First – they are not going to stay level enough for Matt’s wheelchair or your walking for long. With no substrate like packed down screenings they are going to shift in all directions after a few rains and some sustained walking on them.
Second – there’s no weed barrier and so you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to keep the weeds out from between the boards. That’s going to become an onerous job on such a long walkway.
Third – even the manufactured wood surfaces get slippery and host mold and algae in shady areas. That means slippery.
Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer but when it comes to hard landscaping quick and easy processes are usually not the ones for long haul improvements.
While Trex is nice; it’s not the end-all and be-all carefree product.
It’s very slippery when it’s wet; it’s extremely slippery when it’s icy, and it will grow fungus and molds.
Wood, even treated wood against the soil is a short-lived, but still expensive option.
I’m another fan of stamped concrete walkways, professionally installed.
The concrete can be stained and stamped. It could be a “one and done” project, with no ripping out, re-doing, and even more expense.
It will be “set in stone!”