8 Dec 2011

The Best Materials for Pathways with Impact!

Posted by bcsands

One of the ways in which your garden and front entrance can show their personality is not through your choice of plants, but your choice of surface for driveways and paths.

First impressions

Your driveway and front entry area is the first thing that your visitors see. Make a good impression with materials that suit your property – and your style personality.

A shabby concrete slab or stair that is in relatively good condition can be rapidly transformed with a simple coat of outdoor paving paint. With a bit more expense, you’ll get a longer-lasting and more impressive result by engaging a contractor to resurface it or use a decorative concrete coating. These coatings come in many colours and can be etched or stamped in almost any style, from bricks to mosaics, to complement a modern home or an older property.

However, if your concrete is in poor condition, then whatever new surface you choose will soon be in poor condition too. In these cases, it’s best to start from scratch by replacing the concrete.

If you do decide to take up your concrete – or if you have an existing grass or earth driveway, then you could look at alternatives to concrete. Gravel comes in many different colours and is particularly suitable for period properties, where heritage colours can be chosen to enhance the appeal of older brickwork or weatherboard. For driveways, aggregates are better than pebbles and you can use stones up to 20mm in size – anything bigger will move around too much underfoot.

You might also consider paving bricks or pavers – pavers come in as many different colours, sizes and textures as you could imagine! These options do require some maintenance however – in particular, make sure they are laid properly in the first place to minimize sinking, and take care to get the drainage right. With any kind of paving, preparing a solid base is crucial and the preparation may even take longer than laying the pavers themselves. However, the results can be beautiful.

Garden glory

Garden pathways are a way of inviting guests to wander through your plantings – without standing on them. And, even more practically, they enable you to care for your garden more easily and keep your feet dry! But they can also enhance the appearance of your garden, if you choose the right style.

Gravels and crushed stones are a popular choice for garden paths – they are readily available in bulk at low cost from landscape suppliers. They drain well and provided you use stones smaller than 10mm, they provide an excellent non-slip surface. Gravels in natural colours blend in well, or choose a more striking colour for contrast.

Rounded stepping stones are a lovely addition to a cottage-style garden, or for a more modern garden, a row of striking pavers can complement your style. Paving bricks can be laid in different patterns to achieve a distinctive look, either traditional or contemporary, and offer a hard-wearing surface.

Or – for something truly original, try mixing different materials in a single pathway. Perhaps pavers surrounded by gravel, or ceramic tiles mixed with brickwork and gravel. With a small staircase or path, you could achieve a quirkier look using tiling or mosaics in colours that complement or contrast with your plants.

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