Landscape design

In Your Flower Garden, Stay on the Path

Stepping stones set in a garden allow you easy access. Photo:

It’s best not to put your feet in your flower beds. Not on the soil there at any rate. Yes, I know you’ve just lost 20 pounds and are as light as a feather, but walking or standing on soil compacts it, causing it to harden if it contains any clay particles at all and, even it if doesn’t, reducing the space available for oxygen and water to reach plant roots. The more you walk through a garden, the worse the soil becomes. And this, of course, impacts the plants that grow there: they do much better in well-aerated, uncompacted soil.

Since there will be times when you’ll have to get into any flower bed (to plant, weed, chase that darn groundhog, etc.), the simple solution is to provide stepping stones: flat stones or slabs where you always put your feet when you’re in the garden. Each should be large enough for two of your feet (guys with size 14 feet will need rather large stones!), as you may need to put both feet on them when you’re crouching down to weed. The stepping stones don’t have to form an in-your-face path or even lead anywhere in particular: they just need to be placed where they can allow access to the bed, everywhere in the bed. 

Stepping stones are handy in lawns too, as regular foot traffic will seriously damage them. Photo:

In most flower beds, your stepping stone path will quickly be hidden by dense plant growth, but the important thing is that you, the gardener, know where the steps are and can stick to them whenever you need to set your feet in the garden!

From now on, then, don’t tiptoe through the tulips, but place your feet on something solid!

Adapted from an article published on March 7, 2015.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “In Your Flower Garden, Stay on the Path

  1. Not an option in gardens of several acres, although there is quite a bit of paved area and stones in the smaller gardens within.

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