Your walkway is most likely one of the most traveled paths on your property.
Like an airport runway, walkways call out the boundaries that will get you from point A to point B.
But unlike a runway, the walkways that take you from your front door to your driveway or from the back door to a patio or pool might not be a straight line.
Your walkway may not even need to consider efficiency as a top priority (those that meander or are made from oversized steppers are an example of this).
Therefore, material choices for your walkway should go beyond the merely subjective and be informed by broader considerations.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a material for your walkway.
Natural or Formal?
Feel free to replace the word natural with the word organic or something else that evokes the unmanaged environment. What is more important than the word is the concept that references more fluid lines in contrast to straight lines.
What is your overall aesthetic?
Do you tend towards minimalism and straight lines?
Or do you find yourself attracted to organic shapes instead?
Your answers will inform what materials will fit your preferences.
For instance, select bluestone comes in rectangular and square shapes of various sizes. This material is generally sold in a combination of sizes and can be installed in either a random or predetermined pattern. Both options take advantage of straight lines to create a visual evenness that is categorized as formal.
An irregular bluestone comes in random sizes and is hand cut to fit together like a puzzle. This material is referred to as more natural or in a less rigid or predetermined form. Each stone is individually selected to fit the spaces created by the previous stone(s). A skilled craftsperson will bring an artistic eye to this installation and understand the visual balance created through asymmetry, giving a natural appearance.
Can a formal material be used in a non-formal way? Yes.
Can a material in a natural state be used as part of a formal design plan? Of course.
But what is most important here is that recognizing that some materials lend themselves more readily to a chosen aesthetic.
Sure-footed or slightly undulating?
This question is really speaking to a matter of degrees, as we would want sure-footedness as a quality in any walkway. But the material we choose will dictate to what degree sure-footedness is achieved.
Brick pavers, either made from concrete or clay will generally provide the evenest surface for a walkway. There will usually be less tripping hazards from uneven joints and less space for the random high heel to lodge itself into.
In comparison, using large slabs of stone can leave larger joints to content with between each stone, depending on the installation method. These stones can add an extra level of unevenness as well because the surfaces often have more variance than machine tolerances.
It is a sound design practice to also consider the primary users of a walkway when considering material choices. A young couple with a child may create quite different design considerations than someone at a different stage of life.
Directional or patterned?
Another consideration when it comes to choosing a material for a walkway regards the nature of the material chosen as well as how it is laid.
Many materials can be laid directionally or in a pattern. This often speaks to how the joints between the materials layout. A material that is laid out directionally literally leads you in one direction. That is, the majority of the joints go in one direction. A “running bond” layout, commonly used with pavers is an example of the directional. While a “herringbone” style is more patterned with less directional flow.
Even larger paving material than pavers can be used on both a directional or patterned layout. The overarching consideration at its most basic is the difference between movement and stasis. Directional creates visual movement, patterned pushes towards visual stillness. It's about the feeling of the space and there are often aesthetic reasons for either choice.
Have you thought about what would be the best choice for a walkway design for your home? Have you already pondered some of the considerations in this article?
Then it's time to talk with one of the professionals on the design team at Stone Blossom.
Take a virtual tour of a project Stone Blossom is building this season: