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Create Beautiful Walks and Paths

Mar 15, 2008
Attractive walkways around your home add much to its convenience and beauty.

Correctly located walks and paths direct the traffic to and around your home. They should permit you to walk completely around the house, to and from service areas and from house to garage. Such an arrangement makes living more convenient and housekeeping easier; you don't have to worry about tracking in mud and dirt every time it rains.

A good network of paths will protect your landscaping. An inviting trail of stepping stones across a lawn is practically a command not to walk on the grass. Any job you do along these lines adds to the value of your home, and you add to it esthetically and practically at the same time.

Before lifting a shovel, spend an hour or two sketching an outline of your house and grounds - especially if you have just moved into a brand-new home that lacks any kind of landscaping. Make your sketches to scale; not a difficult job if you employ graph paper available from any stationery store. With a new house some extensive long-range planning is in order when laying out walks. You should know where the main patio will be located, the size and site of utility areas, the slab area for the clotheslines and so on.

First consider the traffic patterns in and around the house. The housewife moves from kitchen to laundry to clothesline; from kitchen to utility area. Every member of the family moves from house to patio. There will be traffic from the house to the garage. Consider the access from parking space to front door.

Walks and paths will increase the beauty of your home but they must be practical - they're not put there just to be looked at. The best solution is usually a compromise between the direction traffic would take if completely unhindered and the direction you want it to take to make the walkways fit into your landscaping scheme. A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but a walk built along a straight line is not necessarily the most attractive.

To be completely functional the width of a walk must be planned to accommodate the number of people who will use it at the same time. A city sidewalk, for example, should at least be wide enough to accommodate two people walking abreast with enough room left so that a third person can pass them.

The walk to your front door may deserve this kind of treatment, but not so the other walks around your home. You can compromise in some areas if the most practical width would be too overpowering for the space available. One person can walk comfortably on a walk 18 to 20 in. wide. A convenience path across a lawn should not be too prominent; small stepping stones or a narrow walk is in order here.

Slick surfaces for walks are usually undesirable, especially for a walk leading to the front door of a house. This type of finish is fine for a floor or patio that will be used for dancing, but such a surface can be dangerous to walk on - even more so during or after a rain. Walks should slope a bit for surface-water drainage but they should not be hills. If you need a walk up a slope, break it up at intervals with a step so that the slope of the "treads" can be kept at a happy minimum.

While concrete is the most common material for constructing walks, there are a number of possibilities. Other materials such as brick, flagstone, cement-soil, red-rock (where available) and loose aggregates are all suitable for walks and paths and may be more practical for you. Some of these materials are more economical and easier to work with than a concrete mix.

With a bit of thought and planning your walkways will enhance your home.
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