Walkway Construction – The Final Piece of the Project
This post is the final in a series covering the construction of an elegant but practical front entry. In this post, we look at the walkway construction and how the design of your walkway can enhance the entire entry into your home. Let’s take a look at the original walkway on the left to compare with what was created on the right.
The final hardscape element is a new front paver sidewalk that connects the new front landing to the driveway staircase. We have designed and constructed these elements with gentle curves and a large flow that makes this home’s entrance feel welcoming and natural.
As you can see in the picture of the original walkway, it was narrow, straight and had railroad ties as edges and steps. The steps spaced out to accommodate the slope of the land rather than have a smooth walkway with stairs at the end. One of the requirements of this project was to grade the land to eliminate such a steep incline.
As noted in the previous post, we installed all the removed plantings that will reside inside the walkway prior to beginning the sidewalk construction to prevent damage to the new walkway. This was to allow us to continue to use our heavy equipment for moving the larger plantings into position. Then onto the walkway construction.
Prep work is the key to quality
As in all the other construction phases, the prep work for the sidewalk is the most important aspect. We began with removing all organic soils plus as old sidewalk base as it was insufficient to maintain a solid structure.
Once the ground is ready, we spray a paint line to outline the free flowing design of the walkway. Note that the main body of the walk is 4 feet wide and opens up to 8 feet at the landing area, aligning it with the width of the stairs.
The excavation depth is approx 18 inches on this project but this varies site to site. 1.5 inches of crushed angular stone is installed at a depth of 8 inches and then graded and compacted.
Next we install our PVC forms to create the shape and pitch of the walkway. Once the forms are set we fill the inside of the forms with 3/4 inch gravel. The gravel is graded and compacted with a plate compactor and water multiple times to ensure it forms a tight base. We ensure the gravel is brought to within 3 inches of the finish sidewalk grade to accommodate the height of the paving stones, as they will be set at the same grade as the top of the forms.
Our forms have been laser set to match the surrounding grades. The walkway must be flat but must also have pitch to prevent standing water. This attention to detail is what makes your landscape construction withstand the elements and natural shifting of the earth.
Once all the grades are set a thin layer of stone dust is installed and screeded. The finish screed is 2 5/8 inches or the thickness of the pavers below the form. This will allow the pavers to be set flush with the forms.
With the prep work complete, the walkway paving stones can be laid.
The walkway stones come in three sizes we have selected a pattern and ordered the appropriate quantity. The pattern starts in the middle and is worked to the outside edges of the walkway. Many of the outside stones will need to be cut with a wet table saw.
Once all the pieces are cut and installed, the forms are removed and the edges of the sidewalk are backfilled. The sidewalk is carefully examined for any defects and tweaked as needed. Once our quality standard is met, polymeric sand is installed into the joints, plate compaction vibration settles sand and more is added as needed. A broom is used to fill all joints with the fine sand, excess sand is removed and the area is watered to activate the polymeric sand. Once the sand gets wet it dries into a hard but flexible joint which is a long lasting and durable.
With the walkway and the last phase of the hardscape complete, we can now finish the landscape outside the walkway, which involves loam grading, plant installation and finally, sod installation.
As you can see, a landscape construction project involves many details that ensure a long-lasting structure. If you are planning a major effort, whether it be a retaining wall, walkway or other hardscape for your property, be sure the contractor you hire attends to every detail, including those that are “hidden” when the job completes. Educate yourself on what goes into quality workmanship so that you get the project that will last a lifetime.