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Walkways and Pathways

Building Walkways, Pathways: Design Considerations


Picture of a walkway.

Many homeowners value the elegance of flagstone.

David Beaulieu

Building walkways or pathways may be an ideal option for homeowners looking to connect point A to point B in a landscape. Is foot traffic across a portion of your lawn causing unsightly wear marks on your grass? Including some sort of walk or path in your landscape design could be just the answer to solve this problem.

In the interview that follows, I discuss building walkways and pathways with David Gatti of P.O.P.S. Landscaping in Atlanta.

Q. In everyday parlance, David, the terms "pathways" and "walkways" are used more or less as synonyms. Amongst landscape designers and contractors, is a distinction drawn between "pathways" and "walkways?"

A. Pathways tend to meander and are often used in more natural settings, while walkways are more permanent additions that often serve a particular purpose. Many times, walkways lead to a place, such as a door, while pathways are used for less formal settings as a way to enjoy the atmosphere. Pathways and walkways are commonly constructed using different types of materials. Natural materials such as loose gravel or mulch are common choices in pathways, whereas walkways are usually formed from stable materials like poured concrete, large slabs of stone, or pavers. A final foundational difference between walkways and pathways is their width. Walkways, 4- to 6-feet wide, are typically much wider than pathways, 2- to 3-feet wide, to allow for side-by-side walking.

Q. Building on that distinction, when would a homeowner want a pathway to be installed, as opposed to a walkway, and vice versa?

A. I would recommend installing walkways for high traffic areas and pathways for areas less used. Pathways are often a smaller project and one they can consider doing themselves if they have the time and know-how.

Q. What materials are most often used when building pathways and walkways?

A. The most popular material with which to build walkways is concrete, and the most popular material for pathways is mulch. P.O.P.S. Landscaping’s preferred material to build pathways, though, is slate mix. Slate mix lays flat as opposed to pea gravel or small rocks which are difficult to walk upon. Additional materials for pathways include trail mix and loose gravel. Personally, my favorite material for walkways is stone.

Q. What basic design principles should be implemented when building pathways or walkways?


As for structure, try to keep walkway design consistent. If you have a very formal home, symmetric lines may be best. Or, if you have a country-style home, consider using large flagstones for a more natural look. Homeowners need to keep in mind such details as weather conditions and potential uses for the path when discussing a project with their landscaper, as this may help determine what design principles are best for their spaces.

On Page 2, David and I continue our conversation about walkways and pathways....

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