Five Steps to a Perfect Pathway

An important element in any landscape design is how pedestrians will get from point A to point B.  The pathway that takes them there should answer five key questions:

  1. Is it functional?
  2. Is it accessible?
  3. Is it durable?
  4. Does it address environmental concerns?
  5. Is it aesthetically pleasing?
GraniteCrete Pathway in Tiburon Art Gardens
Pathway designed and installed by Dave Washer, owner of Art Gardens.
Our thanks to Dave Washer for providing us with this photo.

Functionality: A pathway should allow people—and potentially vehicles—to easily traverse the landscape.  To achieve this, a few things need to be taken into account:

A pathway should allow people—and potentially vehicles—to easily traverse the landscape. Both the level and type of traffic affect the paving material and the path width chosen.

Is the pathway going to be in the backyard of a private residence that will see low foot traffic, or is it going to be in a business park where it will see high foot traffic? The paving material chosen should be able to accommodate the expected level of traffic.

Depending on the expected type of traffic, the width of the pathway should accommodate it. The width of the path in a backyard may not need to be as wide as one in a business park, where it might be necessary to account for pedestrians walking side-by-side, or in opposite directions, or even use by vehicles.

Accessibility: The pathway should be accessible to people who use assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, et cetera. The paving material should be stable enough to support these devices without the worry of becoming mired in loose or displaced gravel, and must provide enough traction to prevent slippage.

Durability: The paving material used for a pathway should be long-lasting and able to withstand the expected level of traffic, with minimal repairs and/or maintenance. Issues that might arise due to a material with low durability being used include: an uneven surface due to material wearing away (which could affect both the path’s functionality and accessibility,) higher maintenance costs due to frequent repairs, and a pathway that is aesthetically unappealing.

Environmental Concerns: When designing a pathway, a paving material that will address environmental concerns is becoming increasingly important.  Two key environmental issues that should be addressed are permeability and the pathway’s Solar Reflectance Index (SRI).

  • Permeability: When designing a pathway, permeability is increasingly a hot issue.  A pathway that is not permeable contributes to puddling on the surface of the path, increased runoff and potential erosion, and reduced groundwater recharge.  A pathway that is permeable, combats all of these issues and provides a more environmentally-friendly choice. Landscaping and paving designers seeking environmentally-responsible pathways are increasingly turning to permeable paving solutions.
  • Solar Reflectance Index (SRI):  A pathway paved with a material that has a higher SRI will retain less heat than a material with a lower SRI.  This means the surface of the pathway⁠—and the area’s surrounding temperature⁠—will remain cooler, reducing its heat island effect.  This lower surface temperature spells good news for people walking the pathway, as well as for the feet of any four-legged companions who don’t normally wear protective footwear.
UCSC Marine Lab GraniteCrete Permeable Pathway Santa Cruz
A GraniteCrete pathway at the UC Santa Cruz Marine Laboratory, enjoyed by both people and four-legged friends alike.

Aesthetics: Beyond functionality and environmental friendliness, the paving material should blend with—or accent—the surroundings, enhancing the look and feel of the landscape. Color, texture, and shape combine to create the overall aesthetics of the path. Earth-tone colors, natural textures, and curves that match the landscape will lead to a more natural-looking path. The overall flow of the pathway should also feel natural.

Finding a paving material that meets all of these criteria can be difficult.  That’s why we developed GraniteCrete – to meet all of these criteria and more. GraniteCrete is a beautiful and natural material fit for all lengths and widths of pathways; it has a low SRI, is durable and stable, and exceeds ADA accessibility requirements. Learn more about why GraniteCrete is the ideal choice here.