7 Walkway Ideas on a Budget

Installing a garden walkway from your front door to your fence is a must-do if you want to spice up your outdoor space and enhance your home’s curb appeal.

If you’re interested in transforming your garden into an amazing work of art, here are some easy ideas you can try. The best part is: they’re all budget-friendly!

Stone walk way winding in spring flower garden

Building a Walkway by Yourself

A well-designed walkway — whether it be a gravel walkway, flagstone walkway, wooden walkway, a walkway made with natural stone, concrete slabs, or wood planks — starts with a plan.

Take a look at this simple guide from Home Depot to help you get started. 

Carefully Plan Out Your Walkway

The first step to building a walkway is to develop a plan. In this sense, you need to take into account the distance you want your walkway to be from the front yard to your gate, the elevation level, the heavy foot traffic, and the garden design and different patterns. 

Obtain the Necessary Materials

Once you have a draft laid out, you can purchase or organize the equipment you need to execute this project. These could include:

  • Drywall saw
  • Bucket
  • Spade or shovel
  • Tamper
  • Garden rake
  • Wheelbarrow or dolly
  • Garden trowel
  • Rope
  • Tape measure
  • Lawnmower

With these materials, these are the next steps you need to take:

  1. Lay out the desired course of your walkway using two pieces of rope
  2. Use a measuring tape to check the width of your garden pathway and adjust accordingly. 
  3. Once you have all the correct dimensions, mark the whole perimeter using a shovel. 

Pro Tip: Make sure that your walkway can fit at least two people side-by-side to make it more comfortable. Try to establish a width of about 35 to 40 inches wide. 

Dig the Soil Out

Now that you’re happy with your perimeter, it’s time to set the surface for your base. The way to do so is to use a shovel or a sharp spade to remove the rocks and sods on the ground and dig a seven-inch deep trench. 

Using a tamper, try to push the soil down to make it more compact at the bottom. This will make the surface firm and more even. In doing so, you can create a stronger base for other path materials to lay on top of. 

Create a Gravel Base

After preparing your soil, it’s time to move on to completing your base. To do this, you’ll need to start adding crushed gravel to your soil. This will make the foundation more stable.

In addition, it’s also a good idea to work in sections. Doing so will allow you to adjust the walkway if necessary. Besides this, here are some pro tips to keep in mind.

  • Pour only around two to three inches of your crushed gravel or crushed stone over the compacted soil
  • Then, use a landscape rake so you can spread your gravel more evenly
  • To further compress your gravel, you can also wet it with a hose and press it down with a tamper
  • Continue this process until your base is a flat surface and is below grade (or below ground level)
Garden stone path Brick Sidewalk

DIY Walkway Ideas on a Budget

Giving your outdoor space that much-needed transformation does not require an extremely high skill level or a large amount of money. With basic tools, essential knowledge, and these beautiful garden path ideas, you can elevate your space to a whole new level. 

Closeup image of pebble stone walkway outdoor in the garden

1. Casual Stone Walkways

This idea is perhaps the easiest way to achieve a natural look in your garden. The winding stone path represents informality and little maintenance. To do this, you need to start by choosing the best material for your walkway. 

Among the many options you may have, gravel and mulch are the cheapest pathway materials you can find. Plus, they make the construction process extremely simple. 

All you have to do is to eliminate the sod and rocks, roll out your landscape fabric, and spread the gravel or the mulch over it. You can then line your pathway with larger stones or lava rocks to establish the different zones. 

On either side of your pathway, you can continue to put flower beds to add more visual interest to the whole area.

garden detail in aerial view with chaff path

2. Mulch Path

As mentioned earlier, one of the easiest walkway materials to incorporate into your project is mulch. But did you know that there are different varieties of mulch?

When it comes to home improvement, there are three main types of mulch you need to familiarize yourself with: cocoa bean, cypress bark, and wood chips. Since these raw materials are more lightweight compared to stones or rocks, they’re easier to carry and spread around your designated walkway.

Besides this, mulch is also cheaper than stone pebbles or gravel, making it an inexpensive way to build a new walkway. But take note: while organic paths are eco- and budget-friendly, they tend to decompose over time. This means that you need to rejuvenate them every so often. A recommended period to renew your materials is anywhere from two to five years. 

In addition, if you plan on developing a pathway in an area with poor drainage or consistent rain, you might want to consider a different material. If not, using mulch in such instances may lead to soggy paths. 

3. Gravel Walkways

If you want to find an alternative to mulch, look no further than gravel walkways. Like mulch, gravel is incredibly inexpensive and comes in a variety of types. The main types of gravel are crushed limestone, pea gravel, and crushed gravel. If you want a pathway that offers a more formal appearance and a longer lifespan, consider crushed stone, crushed shells, or washed gravel. 

When choosing gravel, try to look for smaller stones. Smaller stones, averaging around one-half inches or smaller, are a good choice for paths because they provide more comfort on your bare feet. That said, make sure to find the best type of gravel in your local nursery or landscape specialist store.

Straigh line of new freshly installed green rolled lawn grass carpet along stone pavement sidewalk at city park or backyard on bright sunny day. Green Gardening landcaping service.

4. Borders and Edges

If you’re going for a more informal look with gravel or mulch, it’s an excellent choice to also opt for borders or edges. These will keep the materials from spreading out onto your flower beds or lawn. What’s more, the edge can work as a design element to create a focal point in your backyard. 

Not sure what type of borders or edges to do? Here are a few kinds of edging you can explore for your walkway.

  • Plastic edging: This is a cheap way to establish the edges of the path. It’s also quite easy and quick to install, making it a popular option among homeowners. 
  • Stone edging: This type of edging is more versatile and attractive, but also more expensive and harder to install compared to plastics. But regardless, stone edges work well in elevating the aesthetics of your outdoor space. 
  • Brick edging: Besides stone or plastic, you also have the option to use brick to line your path. This helps keep the edges intact and gives your walkway a crisp finish. Adding brick can also add a rustic feel to your garden as red brick sports a weathered look. 
  • Steel edging: Steel edging is a great way to create a crisp border on your walkway. This will help you achieve a neater appearance. But take note, steel is more expensive than plastic and a little less forgiving on slopes.
  • Landscape timbers: If you’re looking for something more economical compared to steel, brick, or stone, then landscape timbers could be perfect for your project. It’s a great idea for building low steps on your sloped terrain. 
Stepping stones on gravel in a japanese garden

5. Stepping Stones

If you don’t have the time to do all the preliminary work of building your own walkway, then consider using stepping stones. This type of path involves very little digging and preparation since all you need to do is to mark the areas where your flat stones will be placed and dig those areas accordingly.

Aside from the minimal work required, creating a stepping-stone pathway is also cost-effective because you’ll need fewer materials and equipment to make it work. 

To add more visual interest to your pathway, you can situate the stones in any way you want — whether it be in a straight line, curved path, or a unique walkway. You can also pick stones of different colors and sizes to make the path more eye-catching. For instance, you can mix and match small stones, large stones, and flat stones. The possibilities are endless!

Worker laying pavers onto the bedding sand and fitting them into place with a hammer.

6. Pavers

On the flip side of stepping stones, you have pavers or paver walkways. This is a type of walkway that dresses up the entire path and adds a formal touch to the whole area. Though they may be pricey compared to the other options, they require less upkeep and maintenance and last a long time. Because of this, many homeowners on a budget consider investing in paving stones, paving slabs, and concrete pavers.

wood texture outdoor

7. Wood Pallet Walkway

Recycled pallet wood is the perfect walkway if you only have a short distance to cross. This type of walkway adds an organic feel to your garden design and takes only a short amount of time to finish. 

Take note: When you make a wood pallet walkway, always remember to prepare your construction sites properly before executing your project. This step is extremely crucial as it sets the foundation of the walkway. As such, make sure to keep this guide on hand when you start on your next renovation project.

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Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.