Excellent material choices for a budget-friendly DIY garden path include wood chips, shredded bark or crushed cocoa shells. Chippings or landscaping bark are a good option if you want to use natural materials. It’s easy to lay too, just tip up the bag and rake into place.
And chippings are even cheaper than gravel, although it’s important to lay a weed barrier landscape fabric (available from Amazon) beneath a chipping path to prevent weeds from working through. If you change your mind about your bark path, you can use the chippings for mulching your flower beds.
However, there are a few dos and don’ts of designing a path with these materials. Chippings are less suitable than other materials for a damp or poor-draining area of the garden as they will become slimy and even dangerous.
You will also need to rejuvenate a path like this every couple of years as the organic material will degrade. Chippings may not be the best option if you have pets or children as heavy use (or digging) will scatter the chippings all over the garden.
And you do need to find a way to contain the chippings or bark with an edging, says BBC Garden Rescue’s presenter and garden designer Lee Burkhill, owner of Garden Ninja. ‘The best way to contain bark chippings is to use metal garden edging. It’s super cost effective and really easy to install yourself. It helps define the path and can prevent animals from kicking the chippings about too much.’