Choosing the right paving material for your walkways can make the difference between a fabulous house and garden and one that is merely ho-hum. Fortunately there are plenty of options out there today. When deciding which paving material to use appearance is usually at the top of the list; however, durability, availability, maintenance, and, of course cost should also be considered. If one of your home improvement projects this spring includes revamping or installing new walkways, you might want to consider one of these five options for paving materials.
Pea gravel (pictured above) is a great choice when you prefer an informal walkway or if you are replicating a historic landscape (think Williamsburg). Pea gravel is also the traditional walkway material of Japanese gardens. Pea gravel consists of small, smooth round stones white to gray to black in color, approximately 3/8Ē diameter in size. Because pea gravel is loose, itís necessary to provide an edging material to keep the stones in place, especially if the walkway is adjacent to a lawn area. After a period of time it may also be necessary to top it off to maintain the correct level of the walkway for drainage and aesthetic reasons. Pea gravel is sold by the cubic yard.
Bricks have been used as a paving material for walkways for hundreds of years. Bricks are considered a more formal type of paving material and are laid out in patterns such as basket weave or herringbone. Bricks should be placed on a bed of sand mixed with dry concrete, which allows them to be flexible and move when the ground contracts and swells, during frost heaves for example. Bricks set into concrete tend to need multiple repairs and after a number of years may end up looking more like concrete than brick. Whether youíre purchasing the bricks alone or using a contractor for installation, bricks are priced by the square foot.
Stone pavers include everything from slabs of bluestone to flagstone and individual stepping stones. Bluestone is a type of sandstone and is bluish to greenish-gray or brownish in color. It is sold in large squares or rectangular shapes often 2 to 3 feet across, although smaller sizes are also available. The larger the size, the thicker the stone should be cut to prevent cracking. Flagstone is similar but is sold in smaller sizes. The colors are more varied as well ranging from purple to gray to brown to green. Stepping stones are a good choice for informal walkways and are quarried from rivers and creeks. Stone pavers are available through a landscape contractor, local nurseries, or quarries and are sold by the square foot.
One of the least expensive paving materials on the market is concrete. Concrete pavers, sometimes referred to as paving stones, offer flexibility in design as well durability. Concrete can be dyed, imprinted with textures, and tumbled to give it the look of genuine stone. Unlike stone, the size and shape of concrete paving stones is not limited by the material itself and is therefore available in a wider range of shapes and sizes--another advantage for homeowners. As with other many other paving materials it is sold and priced by the square foot.
Using cobblestones to pave walkways gives them a rustic feel. Cobblestones wear extremely well and streets that have been paved with cobblestones have withstood foot and vehicular traffic for centuries. They are available in a several sizes, the most common being 4 x 4 x 4 inch cubes or 4 x 4 x 8 inch rectangles. The finish is typically either split or sawn, which makes it a non-skid surface. Cobblestones are priced by the square foot and are one of the more expensive paving materials for walkways. They also may be more difficult to find than other types of paving materials.
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