Cheap and cheerful paths/edging ideas

Hello! We're starting planning a new layout for our garden (it doesn't really have a layout at the moment) - thinking along the lines of having various beds/borders and sections to the garden with winding paths dividing them.

Want something that gives space for flowers, fruit/veg and laid out in such a way that it's inviting for our young children.

Large mixed bed, area in front of espalier Apple tree for other fruit/veg, herb/scented bit, meadow, some containers with miniature gardens in - like a fairy garden and dinosaur garden. Throw in some sensory things like homemade garden instruments, windchimes and a chalkboard etc.

The only thing so far that could end up being an expense is the paths. 

I wanted to something cheap, so just looked at basic gravel paths. But it's the edging that's expensive. It's either the cheap plastic stuff that apparently goes brittle and also looks rubbish or more expensive alternatives like pavers. We'd need a lot of edging, that's the problem.

Wondering if anyone has any good suggestions for cheap, flexible edging for paths?

Another alternative is if I leave the paths as grass (although our lawn is patchy and rubbish) or remove the grass and have moss paths or something similar - does anyone have any experience of landscaping paths in this sort of way?



  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,500
    I wouldn't do gravel. It's not very friendly and it needs more maintenance than you think to keep it looking nice. You could use fairly cheap timber with a strip of heavy duty weed mat stapled to the timbers and bark chips as the path. That's as long as you don't have a cat (bark chips make a lovely big litter tray). 
    But 'tough mix' grass has a lot going for it - soft if you fall on it, naturally weed suppressing if you keep it mowed, very moveable and easy to widen/narrow/shift a bit if you find your 'desire lines' have altered as your garden layout matures.
    In my experience moss just turns up but I live in wet Devon so that may be why. My 'lawns' are predominantly clover and moss with a bit of grass here and there. A purist would be horrified but the bees and other wildlife prefer it and I just squint a bit and pick the heads off the dandelions.
    It's hard to love, there's so much to hate
    Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
  • Unfortunatley there are a number of cats that regularly "visit" our garden.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,795
    Go with grass then but prepare well and then sow a tougher strain designed for hard wear.   Have a look at the long, narrow garden thread to see ideas for making a garden seem wider and have hidden corners and not having paths. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 2,180
    Wondering if you ever found a solution for ‘cheap flexible edging’ Mr VE? 

    I have a 25m curvy slightly raised bed that I used that wooden slats on a roll stuff for, don't know what its called exactly but consists of half moon bits of timber wired together at the back - cheap but total rubbish, the wires rusted and snapped and its all collapsing with the weight of the soil behind, after only 18 months. Still waiting for my lightbulb moment in terms of a replacement! Think I am going to have to bite the (expensive) bullet and build a low wall, as I need it 30cm high to hold back the soil depth. Bricklaying is not my forte, however, plus no dosh to get someone in to do it...
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,795
    edited 12 February
    What about railway sleepers or roofing timbers Nollie?   No brick laying and if you oil the wood before you start it will last for decades.  We built retaining walls out of old sleepers in our Belgian garden and they lasted us 22 years and were still standing strong when we left.

    We also built a lower, knee height retaining wall out of wine bottles.   That was fun on so many levels.   Straight sided Rioja bottle would be perfect.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,360
    Now there's a thought!  I have a small, low curved raised bed (only about 6 inches high) made out of the log roll stuff and it's starting to give up the ghost.  Wine bottles sunk neck-first into the ground might just work as a replacement (better ramp up the drinking!!)  Did you use empty bottles, or fill them with sand or something?
  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,185
    I don't know if anyone likes or uses sites like freecycle etc. There are also some advert sites worth checking for old bricks and paving slabs for free collection.
    It is watching for local ones that takes the time if you have it to wait.
    Though it is often not advised, plain house bricks apparently are no good. But I have used some old ones for edging here and there and they have lasted longer than wood, though some have frosted and broken. They can be used on end or sideways.
    You might get lucky and get proper paviour type ones.

    For what Nollie wants, didn't someone on here use old paving slabs broken but stacked up for a wide fairly stable dry wall kind of thing?
    Sleepers are great you can do so much with them, but can be expensive to get delivered because of weight. And cutting and moving them bit of a job, unless your are young and have the local rugby team on call. :D
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 16,795
    The bottles were empty and laid on their sides on a foundation of rubble then a dry sand and cement mix.  They had end supports built from granite pavers held together with cement but nothing between the bottles.  The main wall was topped with recycled marble slabs from some old fireplaces we took out of the house.  I did use cement to fix those.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 2,180
    Love that wall, Obelixx. I do like my wine, but it would take some time to collect enough for a 25m run so would be a long term project. I recall now my late mother in law had a similar one, but a bit more freestyle than your very neat one!

    I have quite a few railway sleeper beds but this one is very curvy, following a sinuous  terrace wall. One idea I toyed with was getting the local sawmill to cut them up into 30cm lengths, then setting each block on end, following the curves. That way each block would be 30cm high, 20cm wide and 10cm deep (local diy store does them in handy size of 120x20x10cm), maybe with small hinges/plates holding them together on the inner face. Would need over 30 Sleepers...

    A drystone wall of slabs is a possibility too, rubytoo, will have a think about that and see whats around, slab-wise... save all that tedious mortaring.

    Thanks for your ideas, time to get off my rear end and do something about it!

    Hope you sort out your paths and edging Mr VE.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,360
    The bottle wall looks great!
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