The main walk, or walks, of a garden, should be laid out on a liberal scale. Nothing detracts so much from the pleasures of the flower-garden as contracted walks. When we wish to enjoy the company of a friend, in the flower-garden, it is much more agreeable to have him by our side, arm in arm, than to be under the necessity of making the tour of the garden in Indian file. The main walks should, therefore, be calculated so as to admit two persons to walk comfortably in a social manner, and, if wide enough for a little one in addition, so much the better. From five to six feet will not be too wide for the main avenue. The internal compartments, of course, should have much narrower walks, the width of which must be graduated, in a degree, by the size of the garden.
The walks of the flower-garden should be constructed of such material as will make firm and dry walking at all seasons of the year. The best walks are composed of small stones, oyster-shells, coarse gravel, or broken bricks, covered with five or six inches of fine gravel. As to the color of the gravel, or coating, you must be governed by fancy and convenience; but as to quality, it should be coarse and lively, containing a due proportion of light sandy loam, to make it bind close and firm at all seasons; but not so redundant of loam or clay as to stick to the feet in wet weather, nor so sandy as to be loose and open in dry weather.
Ground oyster shells are sometimes used, also granite chips, from a stone-cutter's, which make fine, hard walks; but these substances are too brilliant for the eye in a sunny day, and on that account are objectionable. A redish freestone color has a better effect.
Agreeably to your design, stake out the width of the walk, and proceed to level the boundary on each side, corresponding with the adjacent ground, and form the cavity of the walk for the reception of the gravel, - observing that the whole space, to make a good and permanent walk, should be dug twelve or fifteen inches deep, to allow a proper depth for gravel, to prevent the weeds from rising from the ground below, and worms from casting up the earth thereof. The earth dug out from the cavity of the walk, may be used to raise and level any hollow parts on each side, or contiguously situated, which, with the edging, if of box, should always be completed before you begin to lay the gravel.
The walks being thus laid out, you may first lay any stony rubbish, - such as broken bricks, small stones, etc., - for several inches deep in the bottom, which will drain off extra moisture, and thereby prevent the surface from becoming mossy or foul; the proper gravel is then to be laid on, six or eight inches thick. As you proceed in laying, observe to rake off the coarse parts into the bottom, and to raise the middle of the walk higher than the sides, in a gradually rounding form, just as much as is sufficient to carry off the water to each side.
The proportion to be observed is, - a walk of four feet wide should be one and a half inches higher in the middle than at the sides, and for every foot of increase in width, add one-fourth of an inch to the elevation of the centre. Rounding the walk too much would make it very uneasy to walk upon, and of an unpleasant appearance. No more gravel should be laid in one day than can be finished off and rolled effectually. Clean, hard gravel walks add much to the beauty and comfort of the garden.
A garden roller is indispensable where there is much extent of walks, and it should be applied as often as once a week, and particularly after a rain.