Garden paths can be made cheaply with materials from salvage yards and waste recovery centres. Hard-core, aggregates and unwanted sand provide a covering base. Old, broken concrete slabs help with a rustic look in a cottage garden. Inquire at local timber yards and building suppliers. Sometimes they are happy to sell off broken stock cheaply or give it away for free.
Thinly cut logging timber can be a cheaper alternative to concrete slabs. Place them in line like stepping stones for a temporary, short pathway. They can be useful between flower borders when pruning, weeding or replanting is necessary and adds a naturally decorative look.
Old wooden railway sleepers are tough and durable. They can be sawn down to size and dug into the ground either in blocks, as an alternative to paving slabs, or side by side to provide a walkway effect.
Brick and Stone
Look regularly through the local newspapers. Small construction companies offer free materials if they are demolishing a building. It is cheaper for them to give the brick or stone away than paying a salvage yard to transport it. Old concrete and cement will provide a solid base while the brick or stone makes a permanent pathway.
A garden shredder can provide a ready made material for a pathway. Let the chippings dry out for a few months until they go brown. Buy a sheet of tarpaulin or polythene membrane to act as a liner, preventing sprouting weeds. Mark out the path, cut the sheet to size and lay it over the top. Sprinkle the wood chip over the tarpaulin or membrane for a natural looking pathway.
The beach can provide natural material for a pathway. Check first with the local coastal authorities before removing anything from the beach. A pebble pathway will drain naturally and is easy to maintain.