If you are looking for a simple and inexpensive idea for a walkway, then you might want to consider creating a dirt path. Since there is less material involved than most pathway options and it can be done by most homeowners, they are the perfect landscaping solution when you are working with a budget. With some simple hand tools and some physical labor, you will find yourself with a functional pathway that can add charm to your land.
Lay Out the Path
Start by marking where you would like your path to go. Typically a dirt path will lead from one outdoor space to another. For example, a path would make since from an outdoor tool shed to a garden. You will also need to decide whether you want the path to be straight and functional or curve to create a more whimsical feel. Once you have figured out the location and the shape you want your dirt path to take, use neon spray paint to mark the outline of the path. Make sure to keep the path around 36" or so to make sure it is wide enough to be useful.
Dig it Up
Once your path has been mapped out, it is time to start digging. Dig to a depth of about 4" with a shovel within the marks that you made. Check to make sure you are keeping the path you are digging level by measuring your depth on occasion.
Lay Down Filler
After the path has been dug, you will need to put down about 2" of filler like crushed stone or sand. This filler will smooth out the bottom of your pathway. Simply layout the filler and spread it out evenly with a rake. Again, check your depth to keep your pathway level.
Protect from Weeds
If you do not want to have to fight weeds from taking over your dirt path, you will need to lay down a barrier. If you are working with a budget, plastic bags laid on the path can keep the vegetation away for many years. However, landscape fabric is a much better option as it is more environmentally friendly and will typically last longer than plastic.
Beautify with Edging
If you would like to add a decorative touch to your dirt pathway? There is no better way to do this than adding edging. Natural stone, brick or even decorative metal can all be beautiful edging that will help keep out weeds. However, if you are on a budget or simple do not care for the decorative, a simple plastic edging will work just as well. Just lay your edging of choice along both sides of the path.
Add Dirt and Compact
After your edging has been put in place all you need to do is add the dirt. You will want to spread out approximately 2" of dirt on your pathway . Once your dirt has been spread out, you want to add just a little bit of water to it and start compacting. You can do this with either a hand tamper or a motorized compactor. If you have a lot of dirt to compact, it is highly recommended that you rent a compactor and save your back. Don't forget to pack dirt along your edging as well to keep it in place.
Once your dirt has been compacted it is time to enjoy. Your path will slowly continue to compact more with rain and use, so you may find another layer of dirt is needed in the future. Later, you can always use this basic path as a base for a paved walkway or one made of stone. Either way, you can be sure that your path will be there for you to use for years to come.