A walkway can be as simple as a meandering path of stones winding through a natural setting to an intricate pattern of brick pavers directing you toward a focal point.
Like decks and patios, the intended purpose of your walkway will dictate what type of walk you need.
If your walkway is to lead to or from a porch or deck, you should have at least two exit points from the deck or patio in addition to the exit point leading back into your house. If you have gates, your walkways should ideally connect high traffic areas with your gates.
Your walkway designs should always be constructed from the same type of material used in your patio or deck so that you tie all items together and not look out of place. Walkways encourage guests to explore. Use them to direct people towards points of interest such as a unique shrub or plant group. For low traffic areas, you can even create walkways with stepping stones and ground covers. Remember to use of cubic yard calculator to help you calculate how much material you will need.
For the most part, a walkway can be completely informal, or formal, depending on its intended purpose.
Materials used in walkways are the same as the other projects described in this website. You can use paver stones, tiles, loose fillings, flagstone or wood. The construction phase is also similar. For example, stone pavers are installed the same way in a walkway as they are in a patio or driveway.
When planning your walkway, it is important that you don’t forget to include your landscaping lights to illuminate the path at night.
There are so many choices today with landscape lights. It’s no longer necessary to run a lot of underground wires. Instead, try some of the new solar lights available. They now come in many styles and colors. You can purchase everything from lampposts to deck lighting.
The lights pictured below are solar lights. They’re easily anchored into the ground and can withstand all elements of weather. There’s no wiring needed with these lights. Simply choose your spot and place in the ground. The batteries used to illuminate the bulbs charge during the daytime hours so the lights will illuminate at night through a built in sensor. Most of these lights will remain lit until morning when they recharge for the next day.
If you’ll be going the traditional route of wired lighting, be sure and pre-wire before you install your walkway. It will be necessary to guide the wires under the ground and often under the walkway. By pre-installing the lighting, you’re able to avoid more work later on.
Building a Brick Walkway
I’m calling it brick, but actually you’ll use brick pavers to create this walkway. The only difference between brick and brick pavers is that the pavers don’t have the holes that are found in a house brick. They also come in various sizes, but the dimensions are usually around 4’ x 8’.
The first step is determining how many square feet of walkway you’ll need. Generally, walkways should be a minimum of 32’ wide, but no more than 36’ wide. You’ll measure your width times your length to determine your square footage.
Once you’ve determined the square footage, you’ll be able to purchase your pavers. The size of your pavers will determine the number of pavers you need to complete a job. It’s a good rule of thumb to purchase about 5 percent more than you think you’ll need. This will allow for broken and chipped pavers that are mixed in with the flat. Also, estimate the additional amount of pavers you’ll need for edging.
To measure edging, you must determine the linear foot of open edges (those not touching solid objects). This will estimate the amount of additional pavers you’ll need.
This walkway is built on a bed of crushed stone or sand. You’ll need a one-inch depth of sand on top of the crushed stone. The amount of crushed stone you need is determined on the amount of traffic. For walkways and patios, a 4’ depth of crushed stone is sufficient.
Now you’re ready to begin building your brick walkway.
Step 1 Remove only enough soil to provide a flat surface for the base. You will not dig down several inches for this walkway because you will use a rented plate compactor to press the soil down to a 4’ depth. This step insures the bricks will remain in place through the years.
Step 2 Place the crushed stone base over the excavation. Using the plate compactor, press down to 4’ depth.
Step 3 The border is installed at the beginning to insure that the pavers remain firmly in place. Install, but do not anchor your border or edging. You will anchor it shortly. Choose a pattern from the examples shown, or create your own. Don’t be afraid to experiment with several patterns until you’re sure the one you’ve chosen will look the best in your completed walkway. You can do this by temporarily laying the brick inside the edging.
Once you’ve decided on a pattern and are satisfied with the placement of the pavers, anchor the one side of the edging by driving spikes into the base approximately every 8 inches. You’ll remove the temporary pavers after you have completed the anchoring of the border.
If you’re using wood edging, drill holes in the wood before driving the stake through and into the ground. If you’re using brick edging, dig the ground deep enough so that the top edge of the edging brick is flush with the surface of the walkway. DO NOT anchor both borders at this stage.
You’ll need to leave one border loose so that the border can be manipulated if needed. Sometimes the pavers don’t fit perfectly unless the border is adjusted.
Step 4 Fill the area that will be paved with sand one inch thick. Use a fine mist of water over the sand to show any areas that may contain air pockets. Fill areas until all is firmly packed and uniformly level. DO NOT walk on the sand after it has been leveled.
Step 5 Lay the brick pavers beginning in the corner that has the anchored edging. Fit your pavers snugly together with no more than a 1/8’ gap between each paver. Continue to lay the bricks until all are in place. Once all are installed, you may anchor the other border to the ground.
Step 6 Sweep dry sand into all gaps to lock the pavers in place. You may also use the plate compactor to set the brick into the sand.
Over time, you’ll find that the sand used to fill the gaps will settle. It will be necessary from time to time to sweep another layer of sand into the crevices. Inspect your walkway about once a year to determine if this step is needed.
Don’t forget that the same steps above can be used to build a driveway of brick pavers. In that case however, you will want to use a deeper base of crushed stone so it’s able to handle the heavier traffic.
Walkway and Pathway
Meandering paths are best set in natural areas. They give a guided path to view an existing landscape that contains many specimens of interest. You can use them to guide your way through a wooded area, or even to view certain areas of a smaller yard. Many paths are created through a landscaped area to make easier access to another area of the yard.
Paths of stepping stones are relatively easy to create. You can create them from purchased stones, or collect the stones yourself from dry creek beds. Many rock quarries carry stepping stones for construction of patios, walkways and paths.
The first step is to outline the area you will be using for your walkway with string. This type of path does not have the formal edge of the brick paver walkway. You’ll use gentle curves to guide your path through the points of interest you choose.
Once you’ve outlined the area, it’s necessary to remove any greenery you won’t want in your completed walkway. We’ll be constructing this walkway from loose materials, so it’s necessary to remove any sod to prevent the grass from growing into your path.
You’ll now construct a border to help prevent grasses from growing into your path area. The plastic edging is the best type of border to use on a meandering path because it allows you the flexibility to curve. Metal edging that is flush with the ground would also be appropriate for this project.
After your edging is laid, it’s necessary to cover the path area with sheeting to prevent weeds from growing through your loose material. Plastic sheeting or landscaping material manufactured for this use will be suitable for this project.
Now that the edging is in place and the ground is covered, you can strategically place your stones throughout the path. Be sure not to place them too far apart, or too close together. Your steps should be natural throughout the path.
This is also an excellent area to place stones of interest. Consider using stones with carvings or special shapes throughout your path. These create added points of interest, especially if placed in more bland areas of the path.
Once all the stones are in place, fill in all the exposed areas with a fine bark mulch. Be careful not to cover the stones, but fill the area with enough mulch so that the stones are basically flush with the mulch. This will help prevent tripping on the stones and an easier more natural walk when the stones don’t quite meet the stride of the meanderer.
Of course the ideas don’t stop here. A backyard path can go on and on. It can be as complex or as simple as you would like it to be and is only dictated by the amount of space you have to design your project.
Consider water gardens and bridges of wood to enhance your walkways. Also, arbors and gazebos as points of interest along the way.