Paths and walkways aren’t just a functional part of your landscaping; they can also help elevate the style and design of the landscape. Walkways invite us to explore the landscape and lead the eye through space towards feature elements. They make a yard or garden feel welcoming while also making a space more accessible.
The best material for your yard depends on your personal preference and budget. There are lots of different ways to create paths and walkways in your landscape. Here are the pros and cons of a few of the best walkway materials.
The pros of using gravel as a walkway or path material are:
- It’s very affordable.
- It promotes good drainage.
- It’s eco-friendly since path gravel is often a recycled byproduct from other quarry processes.
- It’s relatively easy to install.
- It requires very little digging or leveling.
But, using gravel comes with some cons, too:
- Large chunks of gravel can make it difficult to walk on, push strollers through, or operate mobility devices over.
- Gravel often migrates from the path into surrounding beds and lawn.
- Weeds can grow through it quite easily.
- It’s not necessarily the prettiest material.
- Your gravel will need to be refreshed every couple of years, especially on high-traffic pathways.
Stepping Stone Pathways
The pros of stepping stones are:
- They’re extremely durable.
- They can be laid in a variety of artistic patterns or styles and adjusted quite easily.
- They’re available in many different styles and colors.
- You can grow walkable ground covers like thyme between pavers for a beautiful effect.
The cons of stepping stones are:
- They can be heavy.
- They need a level gravel base, so they require more work to install.
- Weeds can grow in between them.
- If they’re laid individually in your lawn, you’ll need to lift, relevel, and edge the grass around them every few years.
Wooden Boardwalk Pathways
The pros of wooden boardwalks are:
- They’re relatively easy to build if you’re a handy DIY-er.
- You can create almost any design you want.
- You can use recycled or reclaimed wood.
- Wood feels nice to walk on with bare feet and doesn’t hold extreme temperatures like stone or concrete.
- You can match pathways to existing wooden decks or patios.
- Wood will weather and color fade beautifully.
The cons of wood pathways are:
- The price of lumber in 2021 is very high.
- If you don’t have the DIY skills, having one installed is more costly than gravel or stepping stones.
- They do need to be treated, stained, or painted every few years.
- Wood will eventually start to break down.
- You do have to do quite a bit of leveling before you can install.
- You might get slivers when walking barefoot.
Poured Concrete Walkways
The pros of concrete are:
- You can achieve clean and crisp lines.
- You can color and even stamp concrete to match the style of your home.
- It creates a flat, consistent surface, easy for strollers, wagons, and mobility devices.
- It’s easy to shovel in winter.
- If properly installed and cared for, it lasts for decades.
The cons of concrete are:
- It may crack as a result of temperature fluctuations in the winter.
- It needs a well-prepared base and reinforcement with rebar.
- You need to build a frame to pour into, so the job is best suited for professional installers.
Patio Paver Pathways
The pros of pavers for walks are:
- There are many beautiful colors and styles to choose from.
- You can create amazingly artistic patterns.
- They have more personality and style than basic concrete.
- It’s pretty easy to replace just one if it gets damaged or heaved by frost.
- You can grow beautiful creeping groundcovers between them or use colored polymeric (sealing) sand to keep them in place.
The cons of pavers are:
- Preparing the ground for pavers is a lot of work and is best left to professional installers.
- Leveling pavers is an art; it’s not as easy as it looks!
- You’ll need to refresh polymeric sand between the some of the joints as the pathway ages, typically every 5 years or so
Each one of these materials has its own distinct benefits and drawbacks; there’s no best choice, just the best choice for you!
If you’re ready to add some pathways to your landscape but not sure where to start, stop by Ted Lare Design & Build and chat with us about the different options available. Our expert landscape design team can help you find the best solution to fit your style and budget.