This is the commonest form of utility path, as it is comparatively cheap and, if kept in good condition, long lived. A thorough preparation of the foundation is essential and it should be rolled periodically. It has the disadvantage of becoming weedy, unless it is continually treated with weed killer, and is inclined to lift in frosty weather. Very heavy rains also are inclined to wash it away if on a slope. The surface needs replenishing from time to time, but otherwise it makes a good, clean path, and is of a pleasing colour.
To obtain red, green, grey, etc., effects on ordinary gravel paths, they can be treated with a mixture of tar and pitch applied hot on the surface. Stones, granite chippings, or similar materials, are then rolled in. Bitumen solutions, applied cold, are also used. This work is best done by a local contractor. With this type of path rains cause no trouble and weeds will not grow.
In the ornamental garden grass is, perhaps, the most pleasing for a wide pathway, particularly between two herbaceous borders. If, however, it is to withstand a considerable amount of hard wear, it is advisable to have a combination of grass and paving stones. These can either be set irregularly in the form of stepping stones or as a central strip made up of rectangular pieces, as already described. It is sometimes advisable with the ordinary grass path, where the plants in the borders are inclined to overhang, to give it a paved edging. This avoids any difficulty when the grass has to be cut. A grass path must be properly drained, a 4-in. Layer of ash or clinker being placed beneath the top 6 in. of soil. A slight fall, or camber from the centre, helps to keep the path dry. If the subsoil is very heavy or inclined to become waterlogged, pipe drainage will be necessary.
The paved path, if properly laid, is both useful and beautiful, although expensive. Its soft colouring harmonizes with the garden, and it is clean and hard wearing. The ideal paving is the square or random type, which consists of rectangular pieces fitted together to form an even surface. Alternatively, crazy paving, which is cheaper, can be used. This consists of irregular pieces of stone. Both can have either open or cemented joints. If left open, creeping rock plants can be planted but, of course, weeds too are liable to grow. Sandstone and limestone are usually used for this work.
Bricks of a dark, pleasant colour and of a type that will withstand frost make very attractive garden pathways. A smooth brick should be avoided as it is inclined to become slippery. For the old-world garden they are ideal and if carefully chosen a type which changes colour with age and becomes mossy will produce an ideal effect.
In Spanish and Italian gardens tiles are employed to a considerable extent. Where plenty of colour is desired they are useful, but are inclined to be slippery. They are more suited to the town garden.
Although a path can be laid entirely with cobble stones, attractive designs can be worked out employing bricks and tiles set on the edge in addition.
Where a hard-wearing, clean, but cheap path is required, concrete is perhaps the most suitable material. It is now possible to obtain colouring matter so that the paths need not be so glaring. It is also possible to make them more attractive by marking them to appear as rectangular or crazy paving; but here a word of warning. Make the markings deep so that they look as natural as possible and avoid overdoing the “ crazy “ lines, or they will look very artificial, and remember the crazy paving that you buy is not a mass of points and curves. Proper falls and cambers are essential to drain surface water away quickly.