Ugly garden paths and what to do about them

Ugly Garden Paths

ugly garden paths
This path is concrete, straight and worst of all – goes nowhere nice!

We all have paths in our garden and we all need paths in the garden. Paths need to be hard wearing, functional, low maintenance (ideally) and transport you to the parts of the garden you need to get to. Sadly though, most paths are pretty ugly, often concrete and most likely resemble a runway down the garden….

So can garden paths be functional AND pretty and if so how. Secondly if the aren’t pretty what on earth can you do about them to make them less of an eyesore!


Paths not Runways please.

One of the main problems in small garden design is how to deal with paths. Paths by definition have to go somewhere, they need to be hard wearing and they need to be a certain width to be able to walk down comfortably. The problem arises as garden sizes shrink, the path becomes a much more visually dominant feature and as paths have to be practical they are often not pretty!


design a garden path 1

So what do you do if like many garden you already have a path and you don’t want to go through the expense of changing it, but you don’t really like it much as it is rather ugly. Well luckily there are lots of ways to make the path appear less obvious, and it’s all about making your eye notice other things more.

design a garden path 2

design around an ugly garden path

Hide the Path in Plain Sight:

To lessen the impact of the path and make the garden look more interesting you need to make something else much more interesting.

The plants used have strong vertical lines, which pulls your eyes up from the ground. In addition colourful raised planters are built to again draw attention from the path. So, does the path still dominate?

Make an Entrance:

This garden clearly highlights the runway effect…but you still need to get to the shed. So how can you make the walk to the shed more interesting and the path less of an ugly feature?

  • Hiding ugly garden path

As we have said, you can’t hide the path, but you can hide the path by making it less obtrusive – it’s all about distraction. Here all the lines of the garden lead in the same direction, it simply reinforce the long straight nature of the garden.

The first job is to lose part of the runway effect by reshaping the lawn and redefining the left hand border.

Now, we tackle the runway, by making you look up. The planting and pergola lift the eyeline above the path. . All of which creates a more interesting outlook, but the path is still pretty visible and pretty dominant.

To deal with this you need to make an entrance. Entrances frame the part of the view you want to highlight. By making the entrance spectacular – the path automatically becomes less obvious it also becomes more welcoming. It’s kind of like saying ‘step this way…and enjoy the journey’.

Create a False Entrance:

If changing or re-siting the path is not an option, what can you do. A simple but cheap option is to create a false entrance.

The border alongside the garden can be planted with really vibrant eye catching colours- which helps to hide the ugly grey concrete paths and patios. Planters have been  dotted around the garden too, use the same planter to keep the whole design simple but chic.

This makeover uses plants from ‘Prairies’ as they are easy care, low maintenance and will tolerate drought.

hide an ugly path make a false entrance

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