ISSUE 41  |  West Coast Cool

Hardscaping 101: Design Guide for Paths and Pavers

October 15, 2015 1:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Wondering where to begin when it comes to paths and pavers? If you’re choosing materials or designing a path or walkway, start with our Paths and Pavers Design Guide:

We’ve explored the pros and cons of using materials such as bluestone, limestone, brick, decomposed granite, concrete, and gravel. Maybe curb appeal is your greatest concern. Or how a path feels underfoot. Or matching the style of your house.

For prices and facts–and design tips to maximize curb appeal–here are 17 of our most popular posts about paths and pavers:

Design Guidelines

grasses-path-mark-tessier-shiflett-LA-art-gray

Above: A path of poured concrete pavers leads visitors from the driveway to an entry gate. For more, see Landscape Architect Visit: A Refined Family Garden in LA’s Pacific Palisades. Photograph by Art Gray.

A front path is the first impression your house makes to a visitor. Make sure it’s a welcoming width (from 4 to 6 feet wide) and that it points the way clearly to your front door. Should it be a solid path or stepping stones? Straight or curvy? What paver material will best suit the style of your house? For everything you need to know about designing a front path, see Hardscaping 101: Front Paths.

Side paths are another story. Depending on how you use a side walkway, you can make it ramble or pave it in a whimsical material. To see some of our favorites, see 5 Favorites: Rambling Paths and Uneven Pavers.

Materials: Decomposed Granite

decomposed-granite-catalpa-boxwood-03

Above:Above: A decomposed granite path. Photograph by Ellen Jenkins. For more, see Hardscaping 101: Decomposed Granite.

Decomposed granite–or DG, as it is referred to commonly–is like gravel, but finer and less likely to wash away. An inexpensive material for pathways, it feels soft underfoot and its permeability makes it an environmentally friendly choice.

pea-gravel-path-boxwood-deborah-nevins

Above: Flanked by globe boxwoods, a pea gravel path designed by landscape designer Deborah Nevins has inset stepping stones. For more, see Hedge Fun: At Home with Designer Deborah Nevins. Photograph by Deborah Nevins.

Is pea gravel the right material for your path? See Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.

Boxwood is a handsome edging plant for a path. For more ways to use boxwood, see Shrub Facts: For the Love of Boxwood.

Materials: Bricks

brick-bluestone-path-sissinghurst-gardenista

Above: Bluestone meets brick on a path at Sissinghurst, where Vita Sackville-West loved the play of mixed textures and surfaces. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

Bricks are made of clay soil, combined with lime and sand. Depending on the proportions, colors will vary. For brick types, prices, and patterns, see Hardscaping 101: Bricks.

Materials: Bluestone

bluestone-pavers-steps-stairs-wire-banister-railing-WEDesign_Hamptons_4-gardenista

Above: Bluestone pavers are used on a staircase and landing by WE Design, a member of the Remodelista Architects and Designers Directory. Photograph courtesy of WE Design.

If you are considering bluestone for a path, there are lots of choices to make about color, texture, size, edging, and patterns. For everything you need to know about bluestone, see Hardscaping 101: Bluestone.

Materials: Limestone Pavers

limestone-slabs-sarah-price-chelsea-flower-show-gardenista

Above: Limestone slabs at the Chelsea Flower Show. Photograph by Jim Powell. For more, see A Surprise Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show.

When the poet W. H. Auden tried to imagine paradise, he wrote, “What I see is a limestone landscape.” So do we. Or at least a limestone path. Among the most luxurious of hardscaping materials, limestone is three times as expensive as bluestone. But it will last forever. Dense, durable, and available in a wide range of colors, it’s a serious investment. Is it right for your path? Explore the pros and cons at Hardscaping 101: Limestone Pavers.

Materials: Concrete Pavers

naomi-sanders-concrete-path-gate-hedges

Above: For clients working within a strict budget, LA-based garden designer Naomi Sanders came up with a solution: a stylish front walkway of pre-cast 18-by-18-inch square pre-cast concrete pavers set in crushed gravel. For more of the project, see LA Confidential: A Private Courtyard Budget Goes Luxe on a Budget.

Concrete pavers are affordable, durable, and easy to install( and replace). Is concrete the right material for your path? For the pros and cons, see Hardscaping 101: Concrete Pavers.

Pathway Lighting Design

pathway-lighting-landscape-design-gardenista

Above: Photograph courtesy of Pedersen Associates Landscape Architecture.

Canopy garden lights that direct light downward are typically from 18 to 24 inches tall. Avoid a runway effect by staggering their placement alongside a path or walkway. For more tips on how to choose pathway lighting, see Hardscaping 101: Garden and Pathway Lighting.

For more of our favorite paths and walkways, see: