While straight paths offer clear views, a simple curve provides breathing room as well as interest.
When to use them: When you have to get from A to B, but want to create a sense of space and provide a welcoming atmosphere, a curve will do the trick.
Creating interest: A curved path is automatically more intriguing than a straight one, but a simple bend isn’t enough. The path in this photo provides surprises by hiding what’s around the corner. The statue, set back from the curve, offers a place to pause while the covered arbour overhead creates flow and unity.
With many curves, meandering paths impart a sense of invitation and mystery. They practically beg to be wandered.
When to use them: Choose meandering paths when you want to create a peaceful atmosphere or invite visitors to explore. Many practical gardeners have a hidden “sneak path” to take them directly to their destination, while visitors arrive via the longer, more scenic route.
Creating interest: Because meandering paths are long, add plants at each curve to make the wander worthwhile. When designing your meandering trail, imagine you’re a child who can’t wait to see what’s around the bend. “If there’s a tree, a grove, a wall in the way, it’s more interesting than a clear view that shows all,” Messervy says. In this example, although the view is partially obscured, the S-curve draws the visitor’s focus forward. As you navigate the stepping stones, flowers at different heights create interest, while trees act as guide posts along the way. When you finally arrive at the view, a sitting area rewards your efforts.
Inset image top courtesy of Salsbury-Schweyer, Inc. and inset image bottom courtesy of Charles Mayer.
Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog, Christie's Corner.