Setting the Pace of the Stroll with Stepping Stone Paths and Walkways…

Stepping stone path designed and installed by artist Dan Snow, in a garden of my own design at Ferncliff. Photo © Michaela at TGE

We’ve all heard that the beauty and meaning of life is usually found in the journey, not in the destination. I’m a great believer in this way of looking at things, and I find that the philosophy generally holds true in the landscape as well. Paths and walkways are almost always central features in the gardens I design, and right now I am working on three projects that include stepping stone paths. The way in which a path is designed is key to how a garden will be experienced. Is the purpose of the walkway utilitarian; moving traffic quickly and easily from one point to another? Or will the path be designed to slow visitors down; inviting travelers to linger, pause or sit down and rest for awhile? Are there structural elements to highlight or conceal, views to frame, secrets to reveal? There are many things to consider when designing and installing a walkway or path…

Photo © Clive Nichols, Garden Designer: Anne Dexter

Daria Price Bowman’s Paths and Walkways, (in which the the Clive Nichols photographs above and directly below appear), is a lovely source of inspiration to seek out when searching for stylish garden design ideas. Formal and informal walkways are featured, including paths constructed from every imaginable material, including natural stone, brick, bark and gravel…

This pathways sets a pace to match the stream, with a wide span designed to accommodate two people walking side by side. Photo © Clive Nichols

Barbara Pleasant’s Garden Stone, is another excellent design resource for planning a new pathway. With an entire chapter devoted to the subject of stone walkways, there are both practical instructions and tips as well as countless inspirational photographs to stir a gardener’s imagination. Widely spaced stepping stones laid along a curving line tend to slow the pace, requiring attentiveness on the part of those walking along the path. If stones are placed tightly together along a wide, sweeping path, visitors will tend to move through a space more quickly…

Image © Dency Kane from Barbara Pleasant’s Garden Stone

A few weeks back, I mentioned an ongoing project, The Museum Garden, a space I designed for The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont. This public garden connects BMAC to Marlboro College‘s downtown Brattleboro campus building. Once completed, the sculpture park will be filled with three dimensional art, benches, tables and relaxed, native plantings. In order to slow traffic down as travelers pass through the park, I designed a wide-spaced, stepping-stone pathway, set within a sweeping lawn. Landscape contractors Turner and Renaud constructed the walkway from large slabs of smooth “Ashfield stone” from a regional quarry, and then filled the spaces surrounding the pavers with loam, to prepare for a seeded lawn. As you look at these pictures, think about the spaces in your own garden. Do the paths and walkways in your landscape slow you down or speed you up? I will be writing more about the museum garden pathway, and similar, connecting gardens in the coming weeks. Life begins in the garden, and it’s all about the journey, isn’t it? …

“Ashfield” flat stone placed on a base of fine, crushed stone. Installation: Turner and Renaud, Design/photo: Michaela at TGE

The Turner and Renaud Landscaping Team Carefully Backfills the Walkway with Loam

The Walkway Prepared for Seeding


Article and photographs (with noted exceptions) © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. A small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden site will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

Gardener's Supply Company

Shop at to save $25 on a $50 order!


3 Replies to “Setting the Pace of the Stroll with Stepping Stone Paths and Walkways…”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Hi Michaela, Thanks for the progress report on your public garden space in Brattleboro. This corner’s going to look like a lovely oasis… tempting passersby to stop, relax, refresh.
    I’d so like to take a stroll along all of the pathways you’ve shown – perhaps sit on the bench and listen to the babbling brook or inhale the moist, shady woodsy smells; surprising a rabbit as you round a bend in the path… Ahh h.

  2. Michaela

    Hi there Deb, thanks for stopping by and for your sweet, thoughtful comments. I’m sorry that I’ve been so busy – sometimes I lack the time to reply. But I always read what you post, and I am so glad that you are out there listening. Hope to meet you along a garden path one day. xo M

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    I’m listening, but obviously not looking well enough. Sorry for the duplication, it was frozen and I sent (leapt) before I looked.
    I look forward to meeting you around the bend that day! xox D.

Comments are closed.