Pathway design makes the yard feel bigger than it is.
It also indicates where the most significant destination points on the landscape are located. Paths are entertaining in their own respect. Many outdoor events would not be nearly as fun without a walk down lighted pathways that wind through each zone of interest in the yard.
Whereas walkways are fixed hardscapes that typically follow a linear progression, paths deliberate meander through the yard. In some situations, this creates drama and interest. In others, it generates a deep feeling of serenity.
Walkways are practical in nature, and they play a major role in establishing Houston landscape aesthetics.
Pathway design is more about feeling than anything else. It all starts, and in many ways ends, with the way you feel when you walk down a path in a remote area, taking in the world around you from every vantage point. A path, by nature, is narrow, and seems remote in comparison to larger, more familiar walkways.
Paths in Houston landscaping design are typically constructed out of lighter materials than are walkways. Instead of solid concrete, brick, or stone, paths in yards are more commonly built with crushed stone, gravel, or mulch.
If they are heavily travelled, pathways may be built of concrete pavers, small stone blocks, or bricks. However, they tend to be narrower than walkways in order to preserve the sense that one is far removed from the grind of daily life.
This sense of removal, and sometimes adventure, is what allows pathway design to such an important role in Houston landscaping. Paths identify significant areas of interest to guests who visit the yard. They have an uncanny ability to announce to travelers where important things are located and when it is necessary to stop to take a closer look.
Primary paths that are heavily used are normally built from heavier materials like bricks, small pavers, or loosely connected stepping stones. Although narrow, their solid build identifies them as important transit areas. Primary paths help guide guests from places like the parking area in the motor court to the entry garden, or from the sidewalk along the street to the front door of the house.
Tertiary pathway design involves creating very basic transit areas that wind through gardens, under trees, run alongside retaining walls, and wander through the far reaches of the back yard. Everything from mulch to pine needles, to wood chips to gravel, can be used to build these paths.
Sharp bends, forks in the path, and hard right angles can all indicate major destination points along the way. A winding, looping effect is also very popular for paths that wind through a group of landscaping shade trees. There may only be a few dozen feet covered by trees in the average yard, but a path that winds in and around every tree can make this few dozen feet feel like several hundred.
Secondary pathway design is used to support lawn alternatives in places where grass will not grow. Shade gardens, rock gardens, and moss gardens typically have one or more concrete aggregate or gravel paths running through their interior. This helps make lawn alternatives appear equally important to other landscape element, and it fulfills a very practical need for access to these often challenging parts of the yard.