Many herbs withstand the odd footstep and thrive in the warmth reflected from pavers. Plant creeping thymes for the best effect; they will soon blur the sharp edges of the paving.
Place gravel around the base of the thymes. Keep this topped up, especially after pruning or trimming, when some gravel always ends up in the soil with the offcuts.
After thoroughly digging the ground and incorporating plenty of coarse sand, rake the soil level and remove any roots or large stones. Use long draws of the rake and follow the rough contours of the ground.
Firm the ground by repeatedly treading in both directions or use a well-weighted piece of timber. Scrape the timber over the soil to level out any extreme undulations. Do this from side to side and end to end.
Measure out enough heavy permeable landscape fabric to cover the length of the path with a 6-inch overlap at the sides and ends. Overlap any joints by 6 inches and seal together using cloth-backed adhesive tape.
Permeable landscape fabric is available in packs from 3 feet wide to rolls over 18 feet wide so, alternatively, you can lay out the fabric and cut it to size. Use sharp scissors to avoid loose fabric strands.
Using a spade, push the edge of the fabric into the soil. Some practice might be needed to do this single-handedly and it can help to have two people doing this simultaneously—one on each side of the path.
Coarse gravel of 1/2 to 3/4 inch size is ideal. Start pouring at one end and work your way up the path in one direction. Don’t be tempted to do random sections as this will result in rucks in the fabric that could protrude later.
Rake the gravel level, but be careful that the prongs do not catch on the fabric below. Aim for a uniform depth of 1-1/4 to 2 inches, but don’t worry if this is unattainable as more can easily be added (or removed) later.
Create a shallow indentation by lightly dragging a paver across the gravel, then lay the paver into the hollow created. Using gloves, rotate the paver until it is aligned with its neighbors and fill in with gravel if needed.
Set out your herbs in their final planting positions and then scrape the gravel away from the fabric surface. Cut an "X" in the fabric, so the edges can then be tucked back or re-positioned to cover part of the rootball.
Dig a hole just deep enough to leave the top of the rootball level with the gravel and pavers. Carefully tease out any congested roots, plant, firm gently, and finish off with a final layer of gravel. Water regularly.
Excerpted from Simple Steps: Herbs
©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009