There are too many types of garden paths and most of them are really nice. So the hard part is to decide on just one or mostly two types so your garden doesn't look odd. I would like to try several kind of wooden walkways and at least one gravel one for example, but we have only one backyard. So how to decide if you are in the same position?
The following list will help you. It's focused mostly on the material as regardless of the material used you can design your path in different ways. I won't try to categorize the paths but instead there are tags above each one so you can get some ideas by taking just a quick look.
So, here we go:
Garden Paving Slabs
This kind of paths fit in big and well looking garden. They are not that suitable for a country-style backyard. You will need a professional to install it, and of course it's going to cost a lot.
However, once installed you can almost forget about your paved path. It may even outlive your house. If a slab is broken, it's not hard to replace it.
While it's a type of paving, I think cobblestone deserves attention on its own. It's super long lasting and durable and will make your property look like a castle. Laying cobblestone is an art so I don't think this goes into the DIY category. But if you are big enthusiast you can try it.
The only big downside of a cobblestone path is its price. And not just the price of material but also the labor whose costs can exceed 50% of the entire sum.
Of course not every house and garden will look good with cobblestone paths. Which is a good excuse to spare the expenses ;)
Gravel pathways are easy to lay yourself and pretty cheap. They provide good drainage and don't let weeds grow through. There are many types of gravel so you can choose between different color and sizes of the rocks. Finally, you can relatively easy remove a gravel path if you no longer want it where it was.
One of the few cons: the rocks can wedge into shoes or just be thrown away from the pathway when walking on it. To avoid this it's better to use gravel with larger rocks although they aren't as soft for walking on as the small rocks (like pea gravel).
Brick paths are DIY alternative of paved slab pathways. While they aren't simple to make, the skills required aren't as high as of arranging pave slabs. See how to do it. And usually bricks are all of the same size and arranged in rows, unless you want to make some impressive arrangement.
On the other hand bricks are less durable and easier to break than concrete slabs. Consider this as both advantage and disadvantage - you may need to replace some bricks over time but removing the path is also a bit easier. If you ever decide to do it of course.
Bark Chipping Walkways
By saying "high maintenance" here I mean you will need to add bark chipping every year because they quickly decompost. This is valid for most walkways made of organic materials. They may also, sometimes, attract termites or other wood-eating insects.
But! Such walkway looks, feels and smells exceptionally well. It's entirely organic so if you ever decide to remove it, the soil under can be recovered for gardening, and even become quite fertile.
You can also use any other kind of mulch, like for example pine bark, to make a similar path.
Grass pathways are among the most affordable and the best looking ones. Green, soft, natural, clean - what else you can ask for? You only have to buy grass mix from time to time and take care to keep the grass healthy and strong. The latter may be quite labor consuming task if your grass walkways are exposed to heavy traffic.
There come the artificial grass solutions. While more expensive and not natural they have a couple of very big advantages: there virtually is no maintenance required and the artificial grass remains green and strong even during the winter (provided you keep it clean of snow).
It's always valid with concrete: ten times think, one time pour it. Once you lay out a concrete path in the garden it's really hard to remove it. While most people don't change their walkways often it's still something to have in mind.
You can lay your concrete path yourself but it requires a bit more skills than other path types. Learn how to do it from this quite. A simpler way to lay a concrete path is to use precast slabs.
The one really big advantage is that once laid you simply use and forget it. Concrete paths almost never need any maintenance.
Paths from Twigs
I have no picture of such path and couldn't find online. But I have seen such paths and they look lovely. The idea is simple: lay out some gravel or just clean the ground under the path. Then arrange thin dry twigs and branches on the path and that's it. Natural and free. The twigs will of course rot with the time so you will need to replace them.
Log Slices Walkway
Here is another less typical and very impressive way to lay a path - by using log slices. Here is a place where you can see this done in relatively simple way. You can of course go further and varnish the wood to make it more lasting.
Such a path will be comfortable to walk on and will probably be unique in your neighborhood.
Wooden Boards Path
Using boards is the most popular option when building walkways from wood. You can varnish and paint them, you can attach them to path borders, you may prepare gravel foundation under them, or you can simply lay the boards on the ground and use them as is until they rot.
Wooden board walks are great for properties with lots of trees and plants. They may become a bit slippery when wet so make sure there are no big slopes.
While the typical stone or paved paths require masonry work, skills, and lots of time, there is a way to still use stones but make your path easy and for cheap. Instead of trying to build well-arranged and straight pathway, simply put some flat stones each feet or so right in the ground. That's ALL that has do be done - set and forget.
Or almost. If weeds grow between the stones you may need to cut them. Sometimes stones will need to be cleaned from mud or dust. But that's really it. See more info here.
The same conception can be applied to using paving slabs for example.
Asphalt paths are typically used in community parks and less often in private gardens. If you want to lay such walkway you will need special equipment, or better hire a company to lay it out for you. If you want to try doing it yourself you may have to use cold asphalt. See here for some directions
While durable, the asphalt walkway is less lasting than paving or concrete and may need repair over time. For this reason it's used only in really large private properties.
There are some obvious advantages however - asphalt is very comfortable to walk on, to drive on, or to ride a bicycle.
Most pathways can optionally have path borders. They serve for better look, to keep mulch or gravel on the path, or to keep weeds away. Borders are large topic so there will be another post on them.
So did we help you to choose walkway types or did we just confuse you more?