How to create an inviting front walkway
Creating inviting walkways will help enhance your home's curb appeal. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Kendall)
Does the design of your front walkway welcome guests or push them away? Paths to a formal entry are important enough to require extra thought and attention. "The walk to the front door is one of the first things you see when you pull up to the house," says John Cawley, owner of A-rated Cawley Masonry Inc., in Oreland, Pa. "When people design a new walk, they should really think it through."
Homeowners should consider the type of materials, how they're assembled and the lay of the land - all of which are important when planning a walkway. Size and workmanship are also crucial components. And since masons are installing a landscape feature that will be there for years, advance planning is critical. "In masonry, you only have one shot at it," Cawley says.
He advises customers to first consider which materials are preferred and to look at the makeup of the house for inspiration. "Then, either match that look or make the path its own entity," Cawley says.
Oftentimes, the choice of stone, brick or concrete is a matter of personal taste. "Most materials do fine through the seasons in this region, as long as they're installed properly," says Art Salotti, owner of highly rated Art Salotti Masonry in Ithaca, N.Y.
How the stone or brick are put together can also be important visually and functionally. Staggered spaces between rocks often look more attractive than everything in a straight line.
Homeowners also need to be aware of their land's topography. "People often forget to consider the grade where the walkway goes," Salotti says. "It affects the path. A slight slope is OK, but a steeper one might require a step every few feet. Steps bring the walkway from a lower point on the driveway up to the house."
The design of a path draws people to the front door. "I've found that many people want the front walk to be curved," Cawley says. "It flows better. We've been opening up the entrance of the walk by making it flare out where it meets the driveway. This makes it visually more inviting."
Cawley says a regret homeowners sometimes have is deciding to make their path too small or too narrow. "The bottom line is good craftsmanship is important and often it's a case of 'the bigger the better'."
Finally, given that a stone, brick or cement path will be there through the cold Northeast winters, it must be designed to withstand freezing and thawing. "What people don't understand is that there's movement in masonry, so it has to be done right," Cawley explains.
C.L. Fornari is a writer, garden consultant, professional speaker and radio host who is dedicated to creating beautiful landscapes and successful gardeners. She gardens on Cape Cod, blogs at WholeLifeGardening.com, and offers other garden articles at GardenLady.com.