Finally, late in March, the snow melted, and we were able to get back out into the garden. Our first effort was to lay out the paths. Paths are a garden's arteries, ideally guiding us on pleasant and efficient ways to get from one part of the site to the other. The also delineate the different parts of the site: the chestnut grove will be between the two main paths; the fruit grove will be to the right of the west path; the pasture starts and the end of the paths, and so forth. This was also the first activity where we actually transformed a part of the design into real, full-size, three-dimensional space.
On March 30, Ruby and I took the design drawing outside and used the 10' grid I had laid beneath it to measure exactly where the paths would go. First, we measured strategic points, say, where one path meets another, or, where there is an inflection in the curve. Ruby thought of this, and it made our work much easier. We carefully found these points by measuring out two perpendicular lines with a 25' long tape, and starting from locations we knew - like the property line, or the end of the driveway. The points would be where the two lines crossed. Once we had these strategic points, we could visually lay out the rest of the paths by placing some of our 6' and 8' long tomato stakes on the ground, then stepping back and seeing if we liked the curve. If not, we nudged the stakes a bit one way or the other. Then, we put down cardboard as a weed barrier and covered the paths with wood chips.
The most fun was going up to the third floor and looking out Ruby's window, and seeing our handiwork. It was the on-paper design coming to life! With the paths, Big Foot has taken possession the yard, given it it's new structure. Below is a picture from Ruby's window. We have been using these paths for two weeks now and they are fantastic - they are exactly where they need to be. I always enjoy the slight meander, and I'm never tempted to take a shortcut because they connect just the right points.