Start by analyzing the foot traffic needs and patterns on your property to determine the best location, layout and materials for your walkways. They should be at least 75 cm (30 in.) wide, but for ease of travel by wheelchair users, the path should be 1.2 m wide (4 ft.) and the lengthwise slope should be no steeper than 1:20 (5 per cent) unless the path is designed as a ramp.
But in addition to considering these minimums, also avoid making impermeable walkway surfaces more extensive than they need to be. Maximizing planted and other permeable surfaces will help reduce stormwater run-off which stress municipal sewer systems and negatively affect natural waterbodies. Permeable surfaces also let stormwater soak in so that roots of plants, like trees, have better access to needed water. Hard surfaces serving other functions, like driveways and patios, can also be used for foot traffic to avoid duplication.
Another way to reduce run-off is to choose permeable surface materials that allow water to soak into the ground. For main walkways that are used frequently, like the link from your home to the street or driveway that require a durable, firm surface material, consider interlock pavers that are permeable. Interlock pavers are also available in a wide variety of shapes and colours, and are modular, which helps ease repairs.
For less frequently used walkways such as the link from the front yard to the backyard, or a path through a woodland, consider loose materials such as crushed brick, stone dust, mulch, river stone or pea gravel These materials are permeable but may not be firm enough for people with mobility limitations and may require maintenance such as weeding and repositioning. Edging materials can help keep them in place.
To reduce environmental impacts, choose materials from local sources, such as stone that comes from your local region, or pavers that are manufactured nearby. This will reduce energy used to transport the materials. Some materials, such as concrete are also energy intensive to manufacture. Making use of recycled or re-used materials also helps reduce environmental impacts.
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The design possibilities and material options for walkways and pathways are numerous. To help you develop your walkway plan and learn more about landscaping your home,
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a publication called Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes available for $19.95, as well as free About Your House fact sheets on a variety of landscaping topics. Order your copy at www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.
By Mark Salerno, CMHC
Mark Salerno is the Corporate Representative for the Greater Toronto Area at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. You can reach him at 416-218-3479 or e-mail him at email@example.com.