Access to the Garden

Maintaining access to a garden can be straightforward for some properties and a nightmare for others. Laying paths and putting in gates and fencing is reasonably straightforward on a flat, square plot but if you have different levels to cope with or an unusually shaped plot, then it gets more difficult.

Path Safety Overview

There are three separate areas of concern when it comes to considering access to your garden:

  • preventing thieves from gaining access
  • fencing the garden off to prevent animals and other unwanted guests to enter
  • putting in the various paths and steps to allow safe access to the garden for everyone.

Fencing and garden theft prevention are both dealt with in separate articles in our Garden Equipment section so in this article we’ll be looking at the physical aspects of garden access: paths, steps and other aids to making the garden accessible to all.

Choose the Right Paving Material

There are so many different types of path and materials that can be used that to choose your material and style it’s best to go and look around at the various options at larger garden centres. From a safety point of view loose surfaces need to be laid on flat level surfaces and are unsuitable for slopes.

If you do have different levels in your garden you will have to use a solid surface like concrete or tarmac, or one constructed from blocks, slabs or paviors. If you want to use loose material like gravel or chippings on a slope then you will have to construct the path with a succession of large steps. As long as there is a sturdy front edge to each step, a railway sleeper for example, then the flat area of each step can be dressed with loose material.

Even concrete and tarmac have limits to the slopes that can be catered for and an extreme slope will have to be paved in a series of steps, even with these materials. It might be easier to terrace the garden to try and even out some of the slopes and put in flights of steps to join the different levels.

Ensure Good Drainage and Keep Paths Clean

Try and pick a path surface that is inherently non-slip and make sure it’s laid so that it has good drainage. Standing water on paths will encourage the growth of moss and algae which will make them slippery. For in-depth detail on the various path materials and laying methods look at our site Driveway Expert.

With any surfaces that you lay down in your garden it’s important to keep them clean and free from moss and weeds as they can make even the most tactile surface a death trap. Wooden decking is quite treacherous in the wrong conditions and should be grooved for drainage and regularly swept to pervert small particles clogging the grooves.

Think About Hands as Well as Feet

Where you have to put steps in to maintain access make sure that they are spread evenly throughout the flight. Different heights and widths of steps will confuse people and can lead to trips and falls. Consider putting handrails in for people to hold on to as well.

Remember that no matter how non-slip your path surface is, it can still be dangerous in icy conditions so if the weather turns bad the best option might be to stay indoors until it blows over.