Width of Pathway

aloha2009March 24, 2012

We've got the layout of patios and pathways figured out but struggling with the issue of how wide of a path to create. The path will extend from the front yard to the back and across most of the width of the back.

A 4' wide path seems appropriate from the driveway through a meandering 50' path and down to the bottom level. The thought behind that decision was.

1. The current expansion joint on the driveway is 4'

2. It would be nice to walk side by side since the side yard will be landscaped beautifully.

3. The width of the steps that are "cut out" of the retaining wall is 4'

Once you pass through the retaining wall steps, visually the area will open up. Our lake will be the focal point. The walkway will have a 15' patio to one side and as you turn, we will walk along side the top of another retaining wall for about 60'. Since this walkway will be abutted to another patio (14 x 225) next to the house, I'm concerned that having that much hardscaping together is going to feel very harsh.

When I look at the roped off 4' areas, I'm concerned that I will have an effect of all hardscaping next to a beautiful lake. Though we're leaving a 4' area between the pathway and retaining wall for an extensive flower bed, I can't help but think 3' would soften the area up.

The entire landscaping will be xeriscaped with NO grass. That said, the remaining unhardscaped areas will be lush with an extensive array of plants and flowers. We've considered putting plants in pots along the 4' walkway to soften it up but I feel uneasy about it. I've lived long enough to know that if it doesn't feel right, it isn't right.

Is there anyway you can think to transition from a 4' area to a 3' area w/o it actually being noticed? I'm OK with the 4' area everywhere except where I want it to look it's best.

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The verbal description does not sufficiently convey what it's like to someone who's never been there. You'll need to write about 700 more words to equal the amount of information you could convey in one picture. Do you have any photos you can post here so we can see what you're talking about?

The general impression I get is that this is a sizable space. Bigger space usually means bigger things in it. If a walk is too narrow, it's going to look skinny and skimpy. We see all the time walks that are too narrow, but I can't think of an instance where one that was too wide. It just doesn't happen. Of the three factors you list in the thinking behind the width, the only one that speaks to me with real weight behind it is #2..."It would be nice to walk side by side..." To me, the other factors seem that you're overthinking less important details. More important than them is what the walk is made of and how it's finished. And part of the width determination will be based on what grows next to the walk and how those plants are maintained. But pictures will help a lot. To post them here, upload pictures first to a photo-hosting site and for each picture, find the html code. Start looking for it at the link, "share". Copy the code and paste it into the message you compose here.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 12:05AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

A four foot wide walk wont necessarily look too wide once adjacent plantings creep over the edges a bit. Another useful technique to make a wide path seem less obtrusive, would be to make it a series of sections and plant low ground covers between them. I'm assuming this new walk will be poured concrete? Adding either integral color or dust on color can also integrate the concrete into the landscape so that it doesn't appear so large/raw.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 8:45AM
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First off, please forgive the crazy typo I missed for the patio size. It's 25' wide not 225'.

Yarkvaark, We've got landscaping sketches on 4 different detailed sheets. I've got a diagram of area 2 areas but it is VERY difficult to read unless you're familiar with the area. I tried an aerial view, but the backyard is almost completely covered behind the house and it's shadow.

I think you're right about walkways tend to be too small then too big. You're right again with the back pathway being 50ish feel long the wider we do go the less long it will. feel. I think it's the 4' pathway running alongside the 25' 15" raised patio that gives me a feeling of too much hardscaping.

Bahia, we've talked over using pavers with thyme in the middle which would give it more green and break the expanse up. Though that has it's appeal, I'm not sure if it would ultimately look right for the area. My DH has never liked my flowers falling over the pathways, but he conceded that he'd be OK with it being the walkways would be "extra" wide. So perhaps for that reason alone, I should go for the extra foot and not worry about it.

I guess my "problem" lies by the main patio. I'm hearing the 4' pathway would likely still be best (or basically don't shrink it down beyond that).

My next question then is to use ground cover between the breaks or keep the area "clean".

The area would be

1. a 14' deep patio
2.drop down and 4' walkway
3. 4' flower bed
4. Stone retaining wall
5. 15' of sand,
6. lake

With that look...would you use include the ground cover in the walkway or keep it clean?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 11:38AM
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Per the 225'... I though this was a palace.

I am sorry but your descriptions don't spell out enough detail for me to grasp all the factors. Why is a path running adjacent to a patio instead of to or from it? A simple sketch, or scan of the proposed scheme would help to understand the situation. I'm certain that a 4' path is not too wide. But I'm not certain what's proposed fits well as there are too many organizational/layout details that I don't understand.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 2:46PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Yard, if you do a search for the OP's name you will find previous threads. But if things have progressed, new photos might be good, Aloha.

Karin L

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 3:25PM
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Kcarinl, we've only been digging up the sprinkler system to redirect it, relaying drain trenches, removing tons of gravel rock, removing edging, digging out for the breeze area, and trying to have some fun in the middle of all that. Not much has actually been completed which has been "built" which has been frustrating.

Yard, you really got me thinking as to why we had decided to place a walkway in front of a patio and now I'm not sure if that would indeed be best. We had decided to do that because there is a 30" drop in elevation from the house to the retaining wall. We thought it would be nice to have a walkway to place large potted plants, a place to sit on the edge of the patio and for a easier to transition to the retaining wall.

When you posed the question, I had to ask myself again as it wasn't clear. When I thought of extending the main patio out another 4' instead of making the 4' pathway, I can see a lot of benefits to it. We think we figured a way to transition the slope where it will function and look nice. My DH is going to draw up a 3D sketch (I have no talent when it comes to 3D drawings) and see what it looks like. I'm really thinking I like this idea MUCH better then what we previously had in mind. What we had in mind probably didn't make sense w/o knowing we were contending with a slope. With it not making sense though, you forced me to think why we wouldn't include the 4' as actual patio.

I'll see what my DH comes up with and I'll see if I can draw up a ROUGH sketch in the next few days.

Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:10PM
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