Access | Position | Function of a garden path | Paved areas
There may not be a great deal of choice in positioning pathways in small gardens but a large garden will usually have some leeway in the positioning of the drive, at least how it curves within the confines of the garden. Even a small adjustment in siting can greatly help to link the driveway into the garden.
Except in a formal garden, a path, or driveway, should not run in a straight line from entrance to front door. It is much too dominant in such a position. Make paths and driveways cross the garden to reduce the amount of surface that is visible from the road and house. If a path or driveway is in the wrong place, consider moving it – the expense may not be as great as it might seem, and the results can be excellent.
Trees, shrubs, borders or beds planted along the length of path or driveway generally do not achieve the desired result of disguising it. Such planting can actually reinforce the line of the driveway rather than disguise it. A better disguising effect is achieved with one or two plants near the drive to ‘confuse’ the eye, and/or heavier planting at a small distance to draw attention away.
Function of a garden path
Apart from the access path or drive, most gardens have other paths as well. There will usually be a service path in the back garden, to reach a clothesline or compost area, for instance. The same points about position apply. For example, a straight path will divide and dominate a long narrow garden, emphasising its length and narrowness. Curving the path, or having it pass behind plants, helps to fit it in.
Large gardens can have decorative winding paths to bring the stroller around the garden, continuously presenting new vistas. It should not pass by a compost area or other service area. In any garden, even a small one, a dead-end path leading to a false exit, even just turning the corner of a large shrub but going nowhere, gives the viewer an impression of greater space.
Every garden should have part of its surface area paved with hard material. Hard areas allow more comfortable access to the garden, especially during periods when lawns might be wet and unpassable.
Paving is visually attractive in its own right; it creates a pattern on the ground. Its colour and texture also add to the garden picture. The level surface makes a perfect foil for the shape and texture of plants. Because paving is made of hard material, like the house, it provides a link between the house and the garden.
A paved area is usually placed on the sunny side of the house, where it will be most useful. Even if the back of a house faces north and gets little sun, a small paved area is worthwhile because of the need for access, and the manner in which it links house and garden.
A sun patio can be placed elsewhere, and there is no reason why a garden cannot have a number of paved areas. If a paved area is located away from the house, screening for privacy is essential.