Monday, May 9, 2011

A great garden path material

A few years ago Melanie and I went on a beautiful walk in the Adelaide botanical gardens. Many of the paths are a stunning lite colour and nice and soft underfoot, sponge like. Ever since Melanie has had her heart set on having the same paths at home. So with the previous incarnation of our garden I attempted to source such a material. When I returned home with finely chopped brown bark chips she was gravely disappointed. None of the local garden stores had anything like what we had seen.

With my relationship on the line I pursued to source this magical material with great vigor. Returning to the botanical gardens I bailed up one of resident gardeners for questioning. He informed me that the paths are made form saw dust. He was however not forth coming with his supplier. But after many phone calls and following leads I eventually got my man. And his name was Pete, Pete's Soils.

Pete doesn't typical deal with the general public so one cubic meter was the minimum purchase, three times more than I needed. But priced at around $30, who can complain. I had no idea of what one cubic meter would look like so it was extremely entertaining when a truck the size of my house rolled up. Its scoop was so large it was like watching someone filling a thimble with a bucket (with no spout).

Even more amusing, though extremely embarrassing at the time, was when the mountainous trailer load and I set off down the road towards home. I so wish I had had the camera. If it hasn't hit you yet to what had happened let me give you a clue, saw dust is extremely lite. Oh Yes! I was like Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail of bread crumbs. Except I was leaving a trail that could have been seen from the International space station.

The up side of this story is that I end up with an amount closer to that of what I actually needed, it looks and feels great, and my relationship is saved.

A Zen master at work.

The ends of the paths were a bit too small. Widened so one can easily kneel down.

The saw dust feels wonderful to kneel on.

Where the garden path joins the concrete path I dug it out below the concrete to keep the saw dust boxed in. The path is completely lined with 6 layers of newspaper to stop grass and weeds.

I highly recommend saw dust as a garden path material and even though the saw dust is extremely fine I have been informed it should last close to year. Apparently this is due to a high carbon to nitrogen ratio. You can read more about carbon-nitrogen relationship here.

What do other people use for paths?


  1. Looking great, Jason! Good idea widening the ends of the paths, too.

  2. You've been led up the garden path! Our land is too steep and the terraces to narrow to think of paths. Stone steps are more appropriate.

  3. Small gravel stones on the paths around the vege garden at our place, good for radiating a bit of extra heat from the sun.

  4. I am glad you bought up your paths, as this whole time I have thought your veggie garden was going to be contained in the the brick shape, not the other way round. silly me

    Absolutely loving it though and really cant wait to see the end result.

    I think this blog is fantastic, I feel a connection to your garden and therefore love watching its step by step progress.

  5. foodnstuff Yes, the ends of the path were a little useless as they were. It is easy to be biased with your own garden so it is great to receive positive feedback. Thanks.

    Heiko It did feel I was being led up a garden path when trying to track down the saw dust. But I am so glad I did, I could lay down and go to sleep on it. Yes I can imagine a hill side garden would change many things. Stones sound very appropriate.

    Kellee "radiating a bit of extra heat from the sun" clever. I assume it would never need replacing. How do you find it kneeling down to gardening?

    amydingley You are not silly. That's a perfectly good assumption. It would give very easy access to all the plants due its narrow depth. And thanks for your kind words.

  6. I wish I could find a source today. I love sawdust paths. They are great weed supressers too. Some years back we got a good supply from a sawmill that was closing down, but its hard to come by now. Eventually they will compost down and that in itself has to be good for the garden!

  7. Linda I understand your love. The sawdust is so easy to work with and it feels soooo good. Don't give up your search for a source I nearly did and am glad I didn't. I found the usual garden stores had no idea about it. The place I got it from is actually a manufacturer of potting mix and the alike. And saw dust is obviously one of the ingredient.

  8. Hooray, Blogger is finally back, I've been trying to leave a comment but haven't been able to.. :)

    Love your garden! We used common pebbles for our path, and installed ag pipes all underneath it for drainage. We had big rains before the path was finished, and the whole garden turned into a sea, so our decision was pretty much made for us. ;-)

  9. Hey - I've just a lovely little cruise through your blog. I like your conversational style, and the stuff you're learning, and your mission! I also think you should be reading the blog of some friends of mine:

    .. go introduce yourself.

  10. Celia Yes, hooray! I felt so alone and agitated all day ;) I love (and hate) how there are so many different solutions to gardening. Yours definitely sounds like the right one for you.

    Leigh I was never very good at English at school so your comment means allot to me. Thanks. And yes I will check out your friends blog.

    Lisa I think it does every time I look out my dinning room window. But it is always lovely to hear it from someone else. Thanks.

  11. Hi Jason, I too am trying to hunt down the Adelaide Botanic Gardens' sawdust source so was happy to find your post! I have built similar brick-edged curving garden beds so it's great to see how nice yours look with the sawdust.
    Do you mind telling me if it was 'Peats' rather than 'Pete's' you got the sawdust from? I can only find the former. And as it's been a few years, are you still using them -- for that matter are you still using sawdust? I believe in your most recent post you were but that was a couple of years ago. Any info would be great!
    [Not signed up to Blogger or anything but I'll be sure to check back soon so I see your response.]

  12. Oh, I just found your update post which largely answers my questions. If you have since found a better source of sawdust I'd still love to know but I'm going to check out my local fodder store now :)


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