Dry footing is a cinch if you lay down a porous weed mat in your path before taking your first step. Don't make the mistake of using black plastic lining for the bottom layer. Plastic will collect water in exactly the shape of your walkway, turning your path into a well-defined lake or -- in frosty weather -- a skating rink. The mat also prevents waterlogged soil from squishing and oozing its way to the surface.
1. Prepare the base. To build a gravel path, begin by digging out the walk at a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Width depends on whether you want two people to be able to walk abreast or if you want to make guests line up single file. If you are going to plant alongside the walk with plants that will spill over onto the gravel, make the walk wider.
2. Add edging stones. Place large stones or pavers along the edge as a kind of retaining wall separating soil and gravel.
3. Lay the weed mat. Cut the weed mat to the full width of the path (or even 2 to 4 inches wider), following its curves and contours.
4. Secure the edges. Tuck the mat under the stone edging. If you have cut the mat wider than the path, the mat can climb the outer side of the edging material almost to the soil line.
5. Add gravel. Fill the walkway area with gravel. Smooth the surface rock with an upside-down steel-tined rake.
6. Finish. Backfill behind the large stones with removed soil.