Make a garden path of sand for a simple look.

How to Build a Path in the Garden Using Sand

by Keith Dooley

A garden path is a simple way to guide guests to certain areas of your landscaping and subtly keep them out of other areas. One of the easiest paths to create is one made of sand, but if this is the material you choose, there's more to it than pouring sand on the ground. You must decide on a route and create an area in which to hold the material so it doesn't wash away.

1 Mark the area for your path. If you plan on your garden path being curved, use a garden hose or spray paint to mark the outline. For straight lines, tap stakes in the ground and tie string between them.

2 Dig out the path area to a depth of 4 inches.

3 Fill the path with 2 inches of gravel and pack it down. The gravel helps drain away rainwater and helps keep the walking area relatively dry. Pack down the gravel with a tamping tool.

4 Fill the path with 2 inches of sand and tamp it down with the tamping tool to compact it tightly together. If you only want a sand path and no stepping stones or flagstones, you are almost finished at this point. Spray the sand lightly with a hose or sprinkle it with water using a watering can to stabilize the sand. Go over the path with the tamping tool again to pack it down further and create a fairly solid walking area that won't wash away as easily.

5 Set stones into the sand and wiggle them down into the surface to settle them and remove any air pockets. Tap on the surface of the stones with a rubber mallet if you are having a difficult time getting them down into the sand. Leave a 1-inch gap between stones if you are filling the walkway form fully with rock. For stepping stones only, space the stones on top of the sand first and adjust for your stride. After getting the spacing, fit them into the sand in the same manner as mentioned before.

6 Fill in the area with additional sand to bring the level of the path up to the top surface of the stone. Pack down with a tamping tool.

Items you will need

  • Garden hose, spray paint, or stakes and string
  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Tamping tool
  • Hose or watering can
  • Stepping stones or pavers (optional)
  • Rubber mallet (if using stones)

Tips

  • Wind paths around areas of interest to show off your garden, or direct a path to a sitting area where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery.
  • Add edging to the path to keep the sand constrained if you prefer a neat and orderly garden.
  • To stabilize the sand and keep it within the path, and not blowing away with the wind, mix it with silt and clay. Don't use too much as the result would look like a dirt path, instead of a sand path. However, a little silt and clay mixed in with the sand helps retain moisture, which keeps the sand packed and in place. Add 3 parts sand to 1 part silt and 1/8 part clay to create a mix that still looks like sand. Very little clay is needed in any soil mix. Too much results in a soil that resembles concrete.

About the Author

Keith Dooley has done work in the field of landscaping and design for more than 10 years. He has implemented his own designs, as well as pulled from techniques learned through studies, creating many landscapes for others to enjoy.He has also maintained lawns, athletic fields, town parks, large gardens and game fields.

Photo Credits

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