Landscape & Hardscape Ideas

Pave the way: using pavers to side step a common pitfall

Footworn paths in the grass don’t have to be an eyesore. Here’s how pavers can help.
We’ve all seen them and we’ve all helped make them: shortcuts across lawns that leave ruts in the grass. They are called “desire lines” or “desire paths” in civil engineering circles.

 

Usually found on college campuses, in amusement parks, and by government buildings, desire paths can be a bit of an eyesore. Corner lots in residential areas often see a desire line forming across the front lawn. The builders of a new development or home can predict where desire paths will form by checking the tracks in the snow.

Because people and animals love shortcuts it can feel like an uphill battle trying to get them to go down the right path. By installing a paved path you can better control where people will walk.  Depending on the paving stones and complexity of your path, you may even be able to do it yourself. If the desire line is a literal uphill path, a contractor may be a better decision than a DIY project. Here are the general phases of a stepping stone path project.

Measuring the path will be the first action in the plan. The contractor will visit the site and assess the landscape. Average step length, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, is about 2.6 feet or 31 inches. The desire path will be divided by the average step length (30, 31, or 32 inches). That will give your contractor the  approximate number of steps in the path.

Contractors will help you choose your pavers. A variety of stepping stone pavers are available. Pavers with a wide surface are best for stepping paths. Make sure to choose a patio paver that can support the average foot, about 10-12 inches by about 6-8 inches. 12×12 patio pavers are a nice option.

Grass covering will be the next concern. Contractors will probably suggest laying down sod if you wish to have a path of pavers with grass in between. Seeding a desire path is difficult because the shoots are likely to be trod upon before they can grow. The contractor will lay the sod down and secure it in place. They will cut out tight spaces in the sod for the pavers.

Heavier stepping stone pavers may l be set simply in a  layer of sand; for smaller pavers it may be a good idea to use quick-setting concrete. Walkways must be steady and secure. No wobbling should happen when you are stepping on your paver pathway.

The last part of the plan is up to you. You’ve transformed a pesky part in your landscape from a problem to a pretty path. Add flowers, lighting, and garden trinkets alongside your walkway. Family, neighbors and guests will appreciate the shortcut as well as admire your taste.

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