Forum home Garden design

Creating paths on heavy clay

Hello all!  I’m after a bit of advice, I’m making plans to create a cut flower patch (this is going to be separate and fenced off from my main garden!).  The area I’ve chosen to create this is the sunniest, most sheltered part of the garden BUT has very compacted clay, which is waterlogged in the winter and bone dry and cracked in the summer... I’m going to build raised beds for my flower patches, however I have no idea what to do with the paths around the raised beds! I’m looking at wood-chip or gravel paths but do I need to tackle the issue of drainage first? I’ve been looking at the no-dig method and I think that I’ll use this for the raised beds but I’m at a loss as to what to do with the space around them!  Any advice gratefully received! 


  • It really depends on how waterlogged it gets in winter.  One (slightly expensive) option is to put down 'gravel grid' and fill with bark or gravel.  If not actually flooded over winter, I find wood or bark chippings work well, but it needs 'topping-up' with fresh stuff every year or two because it slowly decomposes and gets incorporated into the soil (which is a Good Thing for heavy clay.) :)

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,044
    I get my woodchip fresh from tree surgeons , free of charge, so I layer it  thickly between the beds on my Allotment.
    They sink / rot over time but it's easy enough to top them up with fresh
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,790
    We have heavy clay too.  In the garden, it's membrane covered with pea gravel.  At the allotment it's membrane covered with bark chips.  
  • Thank you all! I did being to aerate the chosen area - what joyous hard work that is!  :D  :# Now we’ve had so much snow and it’s been below freezing for days on end maaaaybe that will help the old compaction issue as well?! 
    I’ll definitely find some local tree surgeons and see if I can source some wood-chip from them! When it rains water seems to pool in one area in particular it but does drain away eventually over a few hours .... it’s just a muddy mess in the late autumn and winter! I’m hoping with paths it will make it easier to walk on and to be able to work in the area.... 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,027
    Landscape fabric and gravel is fine on clay. I've done it many times and it isn't a problem. A couple of inches as a layer is plenty  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • We have masses of heavy clay around my garden in Cambridge--mostly alluvial/fenland. A standard surfacing for paths is hoggin, though it can sometimes hold puddles in heavy rain. But it is easy to lay, is compacted so you don't sink into it, and doesn't make your shoes terribly dirty--you get some debris but no more than with woodchips.
Sign In or Register to comment.