Your garden is your outdoor domestic space where you can let the day's troubles disappear for a spell. A backyard boardwalk isn't just a means to an end—a way to get to your fire pit, pool, pond, or barbeque area. With a bit of planning, you can inject personality into your pathway and have it be a source of pleasure for your family and your guests.
Wood is a more affordable boardwalk building material than concrete and stone, but we have ideas to suit every budget.
The best boardwalks aren't unremarkable; they're there to capture attention. There are numerous ways to delight anyone who strolls through your backyard, and decorative accents don't have to cost a fortune.
The use of abstract metallic sculptures here creates visual interest and a sense of intention while tucked into a natural and minimally manicured sprawl. But you could also use contemporary lights to frame a boardwalk, vintage cherubs, or animal sculptures. Tiki torches and spherical bushes provide interesting avenues too, as do trees that add height and layers and make the space feel larger.
Not overthinking aesthetics can pay off. The boardwalk in this picture is relaxed, and the wooden beams contrast nicely with the surrounding greenery. This look can have a story behind it if you've used reclaimed or salvaged wood to construct an eco-friendly pathway.
You could measure and cut the planks to make them identical or use a less laborious, more casual, organic approach with different beam lengths or positions. Seal the wood for longevity, or paint it white for some countryside chic.
A smooth and continuous boardwalk has its appeal. However, if you're keen on the less conventional, you can break the monotony with different-sized planks or beams that lay horizontally and then vertically in sections. Or employ mixed materials like reddish timber that segues into pale paving or metal plates for an ultra-modern take.
The crisscrossed look or juxtaposition elevates a pathway from basic to brilliant, and the lush green grass adds a sense of vitality.
Note how the wooden beams are vertical and align with the wood of the planters—the pots almost seem like an extension of the boardwalk itself. The eye appreciates this dynamic visual symmetry and attention to detail, and the green lawn, including the grass in the planter, delivers a neat 3D effect.
The second planter is full of bright pink blooms for a hint of welcome color and scent. You could play with the rainbow and enrich the boardwalk with vibrancy or combine planters and benches.
Excellent landscaping engages the senses. It's not just about what you can see but how feathery plant borders feel when you touch them and the soothing sound of a water feature. Gravel and rocks can also contribute to the aural palette of your garden. White gravel contrasts stunningly with dark wooden pavers, and crushed stone can offer you the perfect border and anchoring medium for plants like bamboo.
River pebbles incorporated into a wooden parquet boardwalk or strewn alongside it look fantastic, and black pebbles add a zen vibe. Here, the wood makes for a slightly more comfortable step than the stones, and the combo looks good too.
Tree trunk pathways can add forest fairy magic to natural gardens, especially when they allow you to step off a boardwalk and onto a pond as though they're solid lily pads. Just be sure to keep them clean and non-slippery.
You can also choose stumps over slats for a charming touch to your fruit and vegetable patch, or raise the trunks for playful flair. Your treated trunk "stepping stones" marry well with deep green grass, or you can insert them into beds filled with gravel, bark chippings, or mulch.
Boardwalks can meander to garden destinations like arbors, or through them. These covered spots can define areas of your backyard and add drama. The black overhead structure in this image complements a sleek Asian-style garden, and its angles merge tradition with modernity.
You can fashion a tunnel out of trained trees or willow, or trail climbing plants along the sides and tops of pergolas for a real-world floral fantasy. Roses, wisteria, honeysuckle, and vines are just a few options to try.
If you're creating a raised platform over deep water or high enough to result in a dangerous fall (two feet or more), you must add a railing. But handrails generally make gardens more accessible for older adults and those with mobility issues too.
You can opt for a top rail, mid rail, and third rail for additional safety. Railings offer tons of design choices and enhance whatever character you're aiming for.
This task shouldn't take you or a service provider more than a few days. Work out your budget, needs, capabilities, and desire for upkeep. Ideally, you want an attractive but low-maintenance boardwalk.
There are numerous reasons your boardwalk may need repairing. The wood can degrade over time, or there might be storm damage. You might be able to patch and go, or you may need to tear out and replace your boardwalk or locate it elsewhere.
Chat to the professionals who helped you put it up, or, if your boardwalk is the fruit of your labor, seek an expert opinion in case improper construction is the reason for the repairs.