I'm looking for inspiration/ideas on material/design/considerations as I plan replace a walkway at my urban home in Midwest USA. It's a ~30' walkway up to my back porch steps.
This is my homes primary entry point for everyone but guests. Family of 6, plus a good deal of elderly/disabled family so it needs to be a stable/practical/durable walkway. It also serves as the wheelbarrow entry path for my back yard gardens/animals/etc.
It seems like avoiding concrete, even as a foundation layer, is a good idea so as to not increase/promote runoff. This seems to be competing with the previous requirement re: stability, so I'm looking to get creative and am interested in ideas from this group.
From a design perspective, FWIW, the house is a historically registered Italianate stone house made from locally sourced limestone and built in 1908.
Any other considerations I need to take into account? Any suggestions?
It seems like a flagstone or slate walkway would be perfect here, no need to use concrete! As long as each stone is seated well and correctly in your gravel base(can easily find thorough instructions online) and you make sure no edges stand proud, it should be more than stable enough for wheelchairs/wheelbarrows.
There is lots of online info on laying brick (and other material) walkways. More and better expressed than I can do here (pictures, too!). They pretty much all start with a lot of prep. In particular, dig the path down to solid unmolested subsoil. Remove all organic matter (roots, topsoil, etc). Start building up the base with either gravel and/or sand layers. COMPACT each layer in lifts of 2-6". If you use a "jumping jack" compactor, 6" will work; if you're tamping it by hand w/a HomeDepot 12" square hand tamper, 2-3" would be about the limit of a lift for good compaction.
When you get near to level you want the path (maybe an inch or so above grade so there's less chance of standing water?), flatten, level and slope the base carefully. Decide how you're going to establish the surface of your final laying bed (I assume tile, brick or something like that). Decide your pattern or how you're going to deal with irregular stuff like flagstone. Each piece you lay needs to be essentially level with those around it while maintaining flatness and slope.
Many paths want a slightly different edge treatment from the main field. Also, many laid paths want a fairly solid edge to keep the sand and pieces along the edge in place for decades to come. This stuff you figure out before starting; sometimes placing the edge first is best, sometimes not.
After laying the pieces, lay a sheet of 1/8" plywood over them and compact the newly laid pieces, letting the plywood protect the finish and also slightly distribute the forces. This is especially important with brick because the sand in the spaces (sometime very skinny spaces) between the brick needs to be forced in solid - it supports and locks the bricks together and give them their expected strength.
FWIW, the next pathway I do, I plan on placing an impermeable sheet just below the final setting layer; maybe 6mil poly. I hope to prevent plant growth where I don't want it. The impermeable sheet will cause all the water to flow off, so I will have to dig and fill the edges of the path with that drainage water in mind. I may also hammer in (or dig and bury) impermeable sheets straight down 2-3' along the edge of the path, also to discourage roots. However, that may be overkill - I just did a small patio with a _lot_ of _large_ roots near the surface and I may be reacting a little(!).
If you get the idea this is a lot of work... You got it right! Projects have a half life where they go well. After that, even with no problems, any project tends to grow a little stale. Thus for something as labor intensive as this, it might be worth your trouble to carefully search out good labor. Good labor is 1) honest; 2) shows up on time and keeps in contact (calls if there's delays); 3) follows instructions well; 4) works hard, works safely; 5) takes an intelligent interest in what they're doing and is willing to speak up (my rule is people get three tries to promote an idea - either I go with it or we do it my way after that); 6) affordable. #6 is last because it's been my experience that people that do what they say, when they say, and for about the amount they said - are worth almost anything they ask. There is a LOT of time lost when somebody drops the ball one way or another. Finding your great helper takes work and luck, but it's definitely worth the effort when you have (or will have) jobs where there is a cost to stringing it out forever.
We're going to be putting in a communal outdoor kitchen, for our family, and possibly even redoing our driveway. These are not small areas, but we've been thinking about using something like this: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_12?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=gravel+paver+grid&sprefix=Gravel+paver%2Caps%2C220&crid=35WGYVUEP31PN No cement, just raze the path, level it, put these in, and fill with your choice of pebbles, gravel, or some even seem to work well for grass, I guess. They have different thicknesses, for different purposes - thinner ones for strictly foot traffic, thicker ones for parking RVs, or driving on. We plan to try it for the outdoor kitchen area, first, to get a feel for it, to see if it will hold up for where we will be in/ on vehicles, or heavier equipment.
The only thing...more expensive than education is ignorance.~Ben Franklin
Find the nearest quarry and use locally sourced materials again?
It's a bit of work and one must be pretty good at jig saw puzzles but natural stone looks nice. Not sure what would go with the house best as it's not in the pic but that would be your opinion/decision anyway. I love flagstone but it's kind of a North East thing and maybe other places where flagstone comes from locally. Limestone would probably be the local flat stone but some of it's not very strong.
Looks like it's remained pretty stable so whoever did it might have done a pretty good prep job already. Minimal disturbance might be best.
I was John Pollard aka poorboy but the system is broken so I had to start anew
Jeremy R. Campbell
Location: Midwest USA
posted 4 days ago
Thanks everyone for the response/input/ideas, I appreciate it.
Carla, I'm really interested in that product. In addition to the walkway replacement I'm looking at creating a 12'x12' outdoor living/sitting space that I want to cover with a pergola and grow kiwi on. From a plant health standpoint I wanted to just do a woodchip floor, but that doesn't seem very practical from a family use perspective. I wonder how well this product would work for both, with some kind of smooth pea gravel, and how well that would hold up under wheelbarrow/wheelchair/walkers. Also barefoot walking is important to my family. I've typically shied away from pebbles since the kids have a hard time not playing with them and I don't like them to end up all over the place. Sounds like something I may use elsewhere but not sure it's a good fit here, will have to keep thinking on it.
I'm leaning more and more toward limestone. Going to have to see what I can find locally and economically.
There are a lot of different ways you could go as your own artistic bent plays into it.
Personally, I would go for the earlier suggestion of some flagstones. In keeping with the concept of "nature abhors a vacuum", I'd look at planting some groundcover "steppables" in between to keep down the mud/weeds.
My husband did one last spring with rock from our property. Our soil is silty sand, so he just used what was there and he didn't do anything to keep it level other than eyeball it. He purposely chose thick rocks so they'd sit deeper in the ground and not shift so much. We like a more organic path, but if it needs to be super level, you might want to take more precautions. We'll see how it's held up so far once the snow melts.
Jeremy, I doubt the product would have problems holding up to walkers, wheel barrows, and such. How full you make the little spaces, however, could either promote or hinder the ease of movement of those items, over it. We don't have any littles to worry about playing with or eating the pebbles, so that hadn't even occurred to me. Sorry about that. I'm not sure how comfortable it might be on bare feet, either. But, hubs and I won't likely be going barefoot outside much, considering the scorpions we've discovered sharing our spaces, lol
The only thing...more expensive than education is ignorance.~Ben Franklin
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