In any landscape there is both hardscape and softscape. Softscape are things like grass, plants, trees, shrubs, etc. Hardscape includes things like pathways, retaining walls, physical structures and more. Every landscape needs both hardscape and softscape to achieve balance and be aesthetically pleasing. Pathways are hardscape and are not only pretty but incredibly useful in any landscape of any size or style. There are many kinds of pathway material to achieve the specific look and durability that you hope to achieve. But, how do you choose the appropriate material that will both look good, be a safe walkway and stand the test of time and natural elements?
Choosing a pathway material will be determined by a few factors, just like determining any other home design or landscape design element. Your pathway material choice may be influenced by things like climate, landscape design style, home’s architectural style, budget and other personal preferences. Your pathway will connect the different spaces in your landscape so it is important that it flows well with the rest of the landscape. This means that first and foremost it is important to look at the architecture of your home as well as your personal style. If your home has a rustic look it is wise to keep your walkway in materials that coordinate with that style. If your home is more modern, it may be wise to choose a material that has a more modern look. Next, when choosing materials you must decide whether or not you want your pathway to blend in with landscape or you want it to stand out and make a statement. If you want it to blend in you may want to choose earth tones but if you want your pathway to stand out you can choose from a wide variety of textures and colors to create a pathway that pops. Once you have determined your style preference, you need to determine how you intend to use the pathway. Will it be a high traffic walkway or will it be seldom used and more decorative? Depending on how much you intend to use the pathway you may want to adjust your materials based on their durability. Concrete walkways may sound boring but they are far from it. Today there is a lot that can be done with concrete to give it visual interest and allow you to create your own unique look. Concrete can be stained or stamped to give the look of patterns and interesting styles. Additionally, concrete pavers are available to be laid much like brick pavers would be laid. Concrete is incredibly durable and is sure to be able to withstand time and weather. Brick pavers which were previously mentioned are another great choice because they are timeless, look beautiful, and are very durable as well. They can also be laid in a variety of patterns to create any look you could possibly want. Another timeless and frequently used choice is flagstone. Flagstone is very durable and gives a beautiful natural look to the landscape while also enhancing a high end aesthetic in your landscape. Other natural stones such as granite, marble, limestone, travertine and more can be used as well and because they are in their natural element they are more than capable of handling any weather or wear and tear. Natural stones are porous so they should be sealed to extend their life and preserve their look when used in a pathway. Stones or rocks can also be used to create a more rustic, low maintenance pathway. Lastly, you could create a pathway of mixed materials including rock and pavers which can be arranged to create any look that you want that is a combination of rustic with design interest mixed in. Consult a landscape designer for recommendations when choosing pathway material as well as designing the perfect pathway for landscape.