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.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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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