Outdoor walkways do more than just lead from one area to another. Well-designed pathways create transitions between spaces, draw the eye to points of interest, and add beauty to your landscaping. And you’ll add another dimension to your outdoor spaces when you add custom lighting to your walkways.
Pathway Design Elements
Incorporating simple design techniques will bring your outdoor walkways to life. Consider these options when planning your paths:
- Mixed up materials – Create visual appeal with contrasting textures. Crushed rock alternated with smooth pavers in the same shade along the length of a pathway, or gravel alternated with granite slabs, are some ways to get this look.
- Chic, classic patterns – Laying bricks or pavers in simple or more complex patterns makes the pathway a work of art unto itself. Diamond, herringbone, chevron, and checkerboard arrangements are some of the most common.
- Floral flair – Plantings—neat or casually arrayed—enhance the look of freeform slabs and straight pavers alike. Short flowers suitable for walkways include African daisy, lavender, marigold, pansy, verbena, and veronica.
- Side-yard attractions – An appealing walkway can make usable space out of an unkempt side yard or otherwise unmarked path to a shed or garage.
- Nature’s way – Granite stepping stones sunk a bit into the ground look like they emerged from the earth naturally! This look is especially striking amidst wildflower gardens and rustic, woodsy landscaping.
Popular Pathway Materials
You have a wide range of tried-and-true walkway materials to choose from, including:
- Pavers – Pavers tend to be uniform in size, making layout easy. Granite, limestone, concrete, brick, flagstone, and fieldstone are a few types.
- Gravel – Gravel is easily poured into a border and requires little maintenance. Crushed rock, decomposed granite, pea gravel, and river rock are among the most popular choices.
- Brick – Brick is extremely versatile, lending itself to a number of design options.
- Recycled stone – Ideal for rustic, meandering pathways, recycled stone is hot right now.
Outdoor Walkway Lighting: Style and Security
Combine safety and security lighting with decorative and ambient light to create fully dimensional pathways that serve their purpose long after sundown.
- For directional lights close to the ground (meant to lead walkers down a path), use soft bulbs that point downward.
- If statement-making fixtures are more your taste, consider lining a long pathway with pedestal fixtures or tall lanterns.
- Incorporate lighting into covered walkways. Sturdy pergolas can hold a series of hanging fixtures—even small chandeliers—or small, directed lights. Depending on the structure of the walkway cover, you may be able to install lighting along its sides as well.
Form + Function = Fabulous
With the right landscape design, your outdoor space can be just as inviting and refined as the inside of your home. A qualified landscape designer can help you determine the style and purpose of the walkways in your yards. Some things to consider include:
- The differences between formal, straight garden paths and informal, curving paths.
- Ways to maximize and enhance the natural flow of traffic.
- The most beneficial applications of different walkway materials.
- Decorative elements such as color, texture, pattern, and borders.
- The placement of plantings, benches, and other landscape components.
Work with your landscape designer to create the best network of paths in your outdoor space. It’s worth every second of planning for a landscape that fulfills your needs—and increases your time outdoors!
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