The path leading to your home is the first impression that greets your guests and sets the tone for your house. Paths to the front door are usually more formal and easy to navigate. (Imagine if your movers had to navigate a bumpy or uneven path into your home.) Additional paths can be whimsical, natural, utilitarian or decorative.
Boardwalk Decking - This type of pathway is usually built over wet, soggy or sandy expanses. Most often seen in coastal or modern architecture, this material can last for years if pressure-treated lumber is chosen and it is sealed with a stain or sealant. New to the market are plastic composite deck materials which will outlast wood and has very little maintenance.
Photo: Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl
Concrete cement isn't the only option available to homeowners. You may be craving something a little different from the Joneses. Here are a few of the many options for creating pathways in your landscaping (not just the front entryway.)
Exposed Aggregate - A slightly more decorative pathway than your traditional cement sidewalk. This path has smooth pebbles that are imbedded in the concrete and exposed on the top layer for a durable and texturally appealing walkway. Exposed aggregate should last as long as a concrete and sometimes longer if an epoxy resin method is used.
Concrete Pavers - The Europeans have many beautiful romantic cobblestone streets. But, walking on them could be a little like balancing on a tightrope. Modern advances have developed pavers that look like cobblestones but are a lot easier on the ankles. Pavers are available in a wide variety of shapes, styles and colors. There are even concrete pavers that look like bricks. Because they are manufactured, they are all uniform in size making it a snap to install. Another advantage of using pavers is that if the are damaged, a section can be removed and re-installed.
Brick - A long pathway of bricks harkens back to colonial times. Bricks also come in a variety of colors and textures. If you like the old antique look, buy some tumbled bricks that have rounded corners. Even more fun than picking the style is picking a pattern. Brick patterns are almost infinite. Herringbone, running bond, basket weave and jack on jack are just some of the patterns you can create with bricks. Similar to the concrete pavers, damage can be fixed fairly easily.
Natural Stone - Bluestone, Cantera, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Marble, Porphyry, Sandstone, Slate and Travertine are all stone slabs that can be used for stone pavers. These flat slabs of rock make them ideal for wider pathways and patios. The beauty of using stone is that no two are identically because they are all natural from the earth.
Crushed Stone - Crushed stone, decomposed granite, and a hybrid of crushed stone and polymer are inexpensive alternatives to an expansive pathway. Typically found in bridle paths, this material is a good choice for controlling dust and mud. [Editor's note, 6/26/12: Thank you, sharp-eyed commenters, for spotting our former misspelling of bridle as bridal. Blush.]
Permeable Pavers - Honeycomb and grid like pavers are often seen where water runoff is discouraged. Grass can be planted in between the pavers for more color. The large holes in this path allow water to permeate back into the earth. They are very environmentally friendly and graphically pleasing to the eye.
Stepping Stones - Bring yourself back to your childhood with a fun stepping stone path. This pathway is a fun and quirky trail to walk on. There are a multitude of materials that can be used for stepping stones. Any large stones and/or pavers can be set on the ground and then surrounded by pea gravel, mulch, grass or left natural. But don't limited yourself to stones in this application. Hardwood tree stumps can also stand in for stepping stones. The tree stumps will deteriorate over time, but you can slow the process by sealing them with an exterior varnish.
Stamped or Stained Concrete - We've come full circle back to concrete. There are so many ways to jazz up a regular concrete path. Consider stamped and/or stained concrete to add some color and to fool the eye. Stamped patterns are numerous with styles that look like bricks, slate, cobblestone and even cracked earth! For more personalized options, choose almost any color combination to stain the concrete.
With all these choices for creating pathways in your yard, you should have no problem finding a walkway that will fit your style.
Brittany blogs for PrettyHandyGirl.com