Paths, steps and driveways not only allow you to get from A to B but can also help to divide the garden into smaller areas, separate. They can draw the eye to a view or a focal point such a bench or a sculpture. Think of the practicalities; a hard path to the bins or the woodstore in winter can make life easier. You may want to make the circulation of cars easier by adding a turning circle or extra parking spaces.
Paths and paving
The French are experts at cobbles and the famous fan shape is a work of art. Most cobbles ( pavés) are made from hardwearing granite, porphery ( porphyre) or sandstone ( grès) in a range of subtle colours.
In old farmyards you may be lucky to have a courtyard made of huge cobbles, cubes of 20cm or more, designed to take the weight of heavy carts. Usually, for a driveway, a 5cm-thick pavé is recommended.
Cobbles also will need a solid edge to retain them, particularly if you would like traditional joints in sand. Cobbles laid in sand can be easily relaid if you need to have work to any services running underground in the future.
Antique cobbles are readily accessible if you need to restore an existing area and cost roughly the same as new cobbles. They can be more irregular in shape, but that is part of their rustic charm.
The French use paving stones less than the British but you can still find them easily. Try to match the colour or type of stone used to the stonework used on your house or in walls for a harmonious finish.
Smooth but non-slip paving is important around swimming pools. If possible, use the same stone for the edge of the swimming pool and factor this in if you are putting in a pool at the same time as creating a terrace area. The people installing your pool can advise you.
Other attractive materials used for paving include bricks, slate and ceramic tiles, all of which can be laid in a variety of creative ways.
Walls and steps
Steep slopes in a garden can mean areas are difficult to cultivate. Building retaining walls to create terraces, with flights of steps between, can reclaim this land for your garden and add an attractive feature. Small downlighters built into the walls of the steps can make them safer if they are likely to be used at night.
As with stone for paving, try to use the same stone as used in the building. If there is a tradition of dry stone walls in your area, employ local craftsmen to build similar walls in your garden to help preserve this disappearing skill.