Stepping Stone Paths: 5 Tips to Make Them Perfect

tips for stepping stone paths image: stepping stone path by murray neill via www.pithandvigor.com

image by murrayneill

 

stepping stone path via www.pithandvigor.com

Chicago Botanic Garden, image by slipgrove

 

tips for stepping stone paths - Butchart Gardens image via www.pithandvigor.com

Butchart Gardens image by **mary**

What makes a stepping stone path successful?  We have all experienced ones that are less than great – but perhaps never thought about why.  Stepping stone paths in gardens can be tricky and here is what I think makes them work.

1) The stepping-stones should be dramatically different from the surrounding materials.  Like stone and water, or stone and moss, or big stone and little stone.  It also would work just as well if you had, say, purple stones and white stones or some other interesting contrast, but contrast is key.

 

2) Make sure the stones are comfortably walkable. Easy distances take away the anxiety about falling off.  Of course the anxiety is less if there is no water, but when faced with a stepping stone path, no matter how un-dangerous it is to step off (imagine surrounded by grass) – no one wants to miss a step or fall off the path, so if you are designing make sure you consider the distance so that you keep the excitement high but the fear low.

 

3) Make sure you stepping-stones are big enough.  Do you want room for one person or more? Make sure they are flat, step-able and sizable enough to stand on.

 

4) Consider mixing stepping stone material.   A path that goes from stone to wooden mat and back to stone again adds interest.  It provides a breather.  Consider a variety of materials.

 

5) If your stepping stone path is long, create a spot to take a break.  You and your garden guests will appreciate the opportunity to pass others, or stop.

I love the stepping stone path, and when done well, it is  so completely inspiring and inviting.  Have you built one?  Share the pictures if you have, and let us know the lessons you learned.
-Rochelle

Tips for stepping stone paths - Japanese Zen Gardens at the UBC campus. image by Sparkle~and~Fade via www.pithandvigor.com

Japanese Zen Gardens at the UBC campus. image by Sparkle~and~Fade

Tokyo, Japan stepping stone path. Image by hyphenated_czech via www.wpithandvigor.com

Tokyo, Japan stepping stone path. Image by hyphenated_czech

tips for successful stepping stone paths image by ume kogi via www.pithandvigor.com

Ume-Kogi, Stepping stones by markfountain52 

 

tips for perfect stepping stone paths image by heather - via www.pithandvigor.com

Japanese tea garden. image by heather

tips for perfect stepping stone paths - Naka Shin-en (Middle Garden) image by soemmia via www.pithandvigor.com

Naka Shin-en (Middle Garden) was constructed in 1895. It contains the Soryu-ike pond which features the Garyu-kyo, a walkway consisting of stone pillars which once served as foundation stones for the girders of Sanjo Ohashi and Gojo Ohashi, famous bridges in the center of the city of Kyoto”. Image by Soemmia

 

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

1 Comment

  1. louise garwood on September 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    wonderful images, rochelle!
    You may enjoy this link to tour the Katsura Imperial Palace put together for Buildings and Cities course at columbia University.
    http://www.columbia.edu/itc/ealac/V3613/katsura/dmb50o07.htm
    highlights several paths and other elegantly simple landscape features.
    Also
    http://www.landliving.com/image/jrose_path.jpg
    this meandering stone path by james rose in a mid-20th century suburban nj lot that creates a sense of journey, passing among woodland raised beds (or is the path sunken??) and offering an opportunity to sit on a the stone bench and observe the scene.
    then there is the very strict geometry of paths from Stephen Stimsons Sconset House project.
    http://www.stephenstimson.com/flash/flash.html
    nice mix of materials and rhythm that is established by the design.

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