Broken Concrete Walkways

kendog2October 20, 2009

Hello, I would like advice on installing walkways using broken concrete. We live in the high desert of southern California. We will be seeding a Kentucky Bluegrass lawn and need to put in walkways in the traffic areas. We would like grass to grow between the pieces of concrete as seen in this photo.

Our yard has been roto-tilled and my husband cut some pathways to see how the walkways would look. This is how it looks right now.

The walkway that comes across the middle of the yard is only two stones wide. I think it should be wider to make it less likely that people (kids) will walk on the grass. I also wonder if it should be a little straighter. My husband thinks that the area is too small for a wider walkway. He says it would look odd.

For the walkway across the back of the house, I would prefer to leave at least a foot of space between the house and the walkway for plants. I think it would be difficult to mow and trim the grass if it grew right up to the house. It also seems to me that it would look better to have plants between the stucco and the concrete walkway. We would really appreciate some opinions on the best design for this project as neither my husband nor I have much landscaping experience. (We need to make some quick decisions as we are running out of time to seed this lawn before cold weather sets in.)

Our soil is sandy clay. Do we need to set the concrete pieces in sand or will the dirt suffice? Would it be appropriate to set the concrete about ¾"above the ground? Our goal is to be able to walk across the walkway without stumbling while leaving enough space for the grass to grow between the pieces of concrete without being trampled. We would be grateful to anyone who can offer insight. Thanks.

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krensgarden(z4 WI)

Hello, I think your walkways look very nice; in fact I had to look at them a second time when I read the material was broken concrete...looks like stone at first glance. Great job!

We live in Wisconsin, so our climate is totally different from yours, but we have had success in burying limestone pieces similar in size to what you have at ground level. We have a sandy soil here, so we did not bring in additional sand to set the stones and have not had major problems. If the frost heaves a few here and there, we simply would dig the stone in deeper.

If you want to leave the concrete 3/4" above ground level, are you going to mow the pathway? The concrete will have to be very level so the mower blades do not strike their surface. In our experience with stones set in at ground level, the grass grows quite well between them because there is moisture under the stones to sustain the grass, and we mow right over the top of the stones with a riding lawnmower.

As to the design, well, it's a matter of personal taste. Generally, a straight path is more of a formal look; a curved path is more nature-inspired. Either one looks great in my opinion.

We have a meandering garden here, so all of our paths have a curve to them. One of the things we've done with new garden construction is simply rake the area and then pick a destination and walk in the loose dirt to see where the traffic pattern seems to flow. In this way, you also gain a sense of how wide the paths need to be. In our case, we have found the narrower paths which we use for utilitarian purposes, such as the path to the garden hose spigot to be ok, but walking in the dark can be a problem. Our favorite garden paths here can accommodate two people walking side by side, but once again, this is a personal choice and path size will obviously be limited to the size and scale of the area.

Try to keep in mind what the path will be used for; will there be a need to push a wheelbarrow or other wide object (garbage cans, etc.) down the path? Will the path be used everyday to get to the mailbox or other essential areas or only occasionally?

As far as the walkway against the back of the house--I agree it would be nice to have some area left for plants as it may be difficult to trim the lawn otherwise and (being a plant nut) plants soften and naturalize their surroundings.

Another trick/hint we use in deciding where to put paths or plants or trees is to use garbage cans or large cardboard boxes as temporary props set up in the area to be landscaped so we can get a feel for how things will look after the work is done. We found this approach to save a lot of work for we know stone and concrete is heavy and the less you have to move the stuff, the better. :-)

Hope this helps...and I hope you get your lawn in before it gets too cold. Good luck! Karen

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 11:50AM
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msirie(7 - GA)

Where does one get broken concrete for this?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 10:17PM
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