By Kimberly Toscano
Paths and walkways offer endless opportunities to create unique garden experiences. A beautiful entryway makes a great first impression and sets the tone for guests. Welcome visitors by planting the entry walk with the vibrant color and soft texture of Encore®Azalea blossoms.
Whether you are designing a new entrance path or planting along an existing walkway, creative plant selection and placement can set the mood and impact your guest’s experience. Design details such as the line a path follows, surface materials, and amount of enclosure all impact the experience of walking a pathway.
Low-growing plants are commonly used to line entry walks. These border plantings serve a number of purposes: they define space, contribute to a garden’s style, and direct the eye. By guiding the eye, plants also inform physical movement. For example, a linear planting of Autumn Chiffon™ creates a bright line to lead visitors to the door. Plants that contrast strongly against their surroundings will be most effective in directing movement.
Planting design also influences how fast people move through a space. The linear planting described above encourages swift movement. We can slow visitors down by increasing the diversity of plant materials and planting in groups rather than lines. Visitors are bound to linger longer in an entryway bursting with interesting colors and textures.
Long, continuous blocks of plant material encourage the eye to move quickly along the mass, treating it as one large element. Planting in smaller masses and varying the height, color, and texture of plant material along a pathway will cause the eye to see the planting as a series of smaller pieces. Slowing our eye will also slow our bodies, inviting a more leisurely stroll. Colorful accents such as Autumn Rouge™ and white blooms like the radiant Autumn Moonlight™ are excellent for creating visual pauses along a planting.
Bends and curves in a pathway provide opportunities to enhance the garden experience by literally turning our point of view. Every time we turn a bend along a path, a new focal point is brought into our line of sight. We can take advantage of this by placing accents and specimens such as Autumn Debutante™ around each curve, a design concept called hide and reveal. And because paths are traveled in two directions, we have even greater opportunity to create stunning vignettes.
In an entryway setting, be careful not to create blind spots around your doorway. Plants with a slender profile or open, airy structure make ideal focal points. Likewise, showy shrubs with long-season interest such as Autumn Debutante™ provide colorful, lasting accents.
Walkways are generally laid out with function in mind, designed to carry people from point A to Point B, often in a straight line. Entrance walks in the landscape are no exception. They serve the purpose of delivering people from the street or driveway to our front doors. As homeowners, we want walkways to serve as more than simple conduits, we want them to look inviting and establish a feeling of welcome.
Whenever possible, add gentle curves to transform the entry walk. Most entry walks have only enough space to incorporate a single bend. And that is okay. The adage “Less is More” fully applies in this situation. It is much better to have one large, gracefully arching curve than two or three small, tight turns. Emphasize the outside bend of the curve with a long sweep of color, such as a mass of Autumn Bonfire™.
When it comes to landscape lighting, function is only half the picture. While lights are certainly useful to illuminate the walkway and increase safety, landscape lighting can also add style and character to the garden. Use lights to showcase your specimens with dramatic up-lighting, or add a luminous glow to colorful masses throughout your entryway beds. Also try backlighting plants with unique forms. Add luminosity by lining walkways with white-flowered plants such as Autumn Ivory™ to reflect the light.