Ways To Create A Garden Path Using Cheap Or Free Materials

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Maria Evseyeva

If you have a garden in your backyard, then you most likely travel back and forth from your home to this natural haven regularly along the same route. This regular foot traffic is why a garden pathway is essential. You might think that creating a walkway from your garden to your home is yet another huge home improvement expense. Sure, a walkway can cost a lot of money, but if you think outside the box and use cheap or free materials, it can cost little to nothing to build a garden path.

When you build a garden path on a tight budget, try finding free materials to incorporate into it. You can often find bricks, mulch, tree stumps, and even shells for free. Use large rocks from your yard or in nature to build the edging and borders of the path. Gravel, cinder blocks, discounted decking and leftover turf are inexpensive materials you can use to build your pathway.

The distance might not be far, but a clear and deliberate pathway from your home to your garden is always better than walking on raw earth, especially on a rainy day. There are many free and cheap materials you can use to make a pathway. Best of all, these materials are often readily available. Keep reading to learn all the best ways to build a garden pathway on a very tight budget.

10 Ways To Help Build A Garden Path With Inexpensive Materials

1. Create A Pathway With Leftover Bricks

If you want to build a garden pathway on a tight budget that lasts a long time, then start looking for bricks. New bricks at home improvement stores can be fairly cheap (and also quite pricey), but if you are looking to build a pathway for as little as possible, don’t head to a retail store.

Instead, look online to see if there are any places selling bricks for cheap, or giving them away. You might get lucky with a demolition site or company that needs old bricks hauled away. The only catch is you need to pick them up yourself.

Brick not only looks great, but it is fairly easy to install. You just need to dig into the earth and create a flat surface. In theory, if you can find free bricks, all your pathway will cost you is several hours of hard manual labor.

2. Use Mulch For Your Pathway

Mulch is another material you can use to build a pathway from your home to your garden, and is exceptional for those on a tight budget. Of all the items on this list, mulch is arguably the easiest material to find for free or cheap. Many landscape companies give mulch away after cutting down trees.

You will need to create edging for a mulch pathway, otherwise it will spill into your yard. There are many ways to build edging and some free methods like collecting rocks to make a border. You can also opt for rubber edging, which is affordable and long-lasting.

3. Use Shells Or Coral To Build A Path

If you live near the ocean or want to bring a bit of a washed-out ocean vibe into your backyard, consider using shells or bleached coral to build your pathway. In some regions, coral and shells (especially oyster shells) are in high abundance. You can collect a lot of specimens yourself, or you can buy them in bulk for very cheap.

If the materials are larger, you might want to incorporate some stepping stones, so it won’t be painful to walk the path barefoot. This is a unique and fantastic option for those looking for a pathway that will pop. The white colors of the shells or coral will contrast marvelously with the grass or earthy tones, making it a real showstopper at a cheap price.

4. Make A Gravel Path

One of the most popular budget pathways is the one made from gravel. Gravel comes in many colors, sizes, and types. Pea gravel is rather popular for pathways, especially in the home. You can often find certain types of gravel on sale.

While inexpensive, you must have reliable edging and stabilize the gravel when building this type of path in your yard. If gravel spills onto your lawn, it can damage your lawn mower and even make mowing the lawn dangerous. Make sure you build a sufficient barrier between the gravel and the lawn, so this inexpensive pathway does not cause more harm than good.

5. Use Cinder Blocks To Build A Path

Cinder blocks are a staple of cheap DIY projects. You can use them for everything from cheap seating to a DIY bookshelf. You can even place them in the ground and use them as makeshift stepping stones to build a pathway to your garden.

Cinder blocks aren’t the most visually appealing type of stepping stone, but if you paint them, you can help them match your aesthetic and also make them last longer. Use an acrylic latex paint that will adhere to the cinder block, and also preserve its lifespan. If you are worried about the paint making the blocks slippery, add some sand.

6. Use Tree Stumps To Build A Garden Walkway

If you want your walkway to look natural and like it's straight out of a fairy tale, you can use cuttings from tree stumps in place of stepping stones. The key to using tree stumps is to make sure the wood is not rotted and to treat it before placing these disk-like pieces into the ground.

Even when treated, wood has a shelf life. So, keep in mind this pathway will need to be replaced and repaired periodically. But it is a fairly easy, and very cheap way to build a natural-looking pathway from your home to your garden.

7. Buy Discount Deck Boards To Build A Boardwalk

Another wood (or fake wood) pathway idea is to use discounted decking to build a makeshift boardwalk for your garden. Wood decking can be expensive, but you might be lucky enough to find decking on sale or find some scraps and short pieces that you can use to make a path.

To build the path, you can place the decking directly into the ground and space out each piece one to two inches apart. This will mimic the look of a boardwalk, without you having to create a structure underneath.

8. Find Concrete Paving Stones On Sale

One of the easiest ways to build a pathway from your home to your garden is to use concrete paving stones. While heavy, paving stones are fairly easy to place, and given their size, you don’t need too many of them to get from point A to point B.

If you are on a tight budget, get creative and be flexible with the type of concrete paving stones you are willing to use. You can find some type of concrete pavers for cheap that you can transform into a garden pathway.

9. Use Leftover Turf To Build A Garden Pathway

You can even use leftover turf to build a pathway. It might sound strange to use turf next to real grass, but it is a great way to keep your yard looking green while making a clean and safe path to your garden.

Because a pathway can use smaller strips of turf, you might get lucky and find cheap or free leftover scraps to use. Keep your eye out for turf scraps and see if you can incorporate these scraps into your DIY garden pathway.

10. Hunt For Flat Stones In Your Area

Lastly, if you are on a mission to spend zero dollars to build your pathway, and want to have some fun doing it, go stone hunting. If you live somewhere with lots of large stones (that are legal to remove), then take your time finding the perfect ones. Ideally, you will find stones with flat surfaces that measure at least one foot in all directions.

This can be a time-consuming project, so it isn’t ideal for those who want a pathway right away. It is, however, a very sentimental and fun way to create a garden pathway.

Summing Up Ways To Create A Garden Pathway For Cheap

Garden pathways can add charm and allure to your backyard. They are also quite practical, as a pathway is a great way to prevent tracking mud through your yard and into the home. If you want to build a garden path but are on a tight budget, look for some cheap or free materials. Mulch, sea shells, tree trunks, and used bricks are all great potentially free materials you can use to build pathways. You can even look for large flat stones to use as stepping stones, or smaller rocks to help build your edging.

Related Guides:

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey