Use what nature has provided to create a casual path. The best part is: it's a cheap project, too!

You don't need expensive pavers or bricks to create a good-looking garden path. Wood chips are way more affordable and make for a more natural-looking path. Here's how to do it so the wood chips stay in place.

path with stone edging and wood chips


  • Newspapers
  • Wood chips
  • Stones (optional)


  • Shovel

Step 1: Secure a Supply of Wood Chips

If you or a neighbor has a chipper-shredder, stockpile chips for no more than a year (they'll start to break down). Or check with your city or county manager's office. Shredded wood chips are often available for little or no cost from local landfills as long as you haul them. Alternatively, if you have an ample supply of pine needles or tiny or crushed sea shells in your area, collect those to line the path.

Step 2: Excavate Area

For best results, excavate the soil to about one inch deep wherever you want to lay the path. This will help the wood chips from shifting. The path should be at least 18 inches wide for easy access; 36 inches if you'd like two people to walk next to each other. The ground doesn't need to be completely level or smooth, but the soil should be compacted down to create a solid base.

adding newspapers to dirt in landscaping bed for mulch wood chips
Credit: Brie Passano

Step 3: Line With Newspapers

Line the bottom of the path with several layers of newspapers. In a couple of years, they'll break down but in the meantime, they'll prevent weeds from taking hold.

adding mulch wood chips on top of newspaper
Credit: Brie Passano

Step 5: Fill Path

Fill in the papered area with mulch, trying to spread an even layer throughout. The layer should be an inch or two thick to prevent the newspaper below from peeking through as the mulch shifts underfoot.

Optional: Line Path With Stones

If desired and if they're readily available, use stones to line the path. They'll add a finished look and will also further prevent the wood chips from shifting.


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