I recently had my backyard redone. I got rid of all the grass and had
native plants put in so that that the watering needs are reduced.
The paths that are there now are made out of decomposed granite (DG) which
may or may not have been installed properly.
At any rate they have to be redone because they are essentially wet sand
that gets everywhere and just look like crap.
My basic desires for this are
a) adequately sheds water or at least keeps it off the surface
b) has a reasonably natural look
c) is low maintenance
This is San Diego. In the summer it is generally bone dry. In the winter
we get rain occasionally, sometimes quite hard, and we get significant
condensation every night. It's this condensation that leaves the DG a
sodden mess. We don't have spring or fall.
Some of the obvious choices are
This seems pretty severe and doesn't exactly fit with the theme of a native
landscape. I also have a gas pipe running under the area where the path is
and I'd really rather not have to deal with a slab if it ever needs repair.
2) pavers w/mortar
Again sort of severe though less so than concrete. I am a bit skeptical of
being able to get a firm bed for the stones as the ground is mostly sand.
This will probably lead to mortar crumbling.
3) pavers w/o mortar with a sand "grout"
I could live with this with a "natural" looking paver but I'm a bit leery of
all the sand washing into the drainage piping and clogging them. This is a
current problem with the DG that is there now.
4) stepping stones set in decorative gravel
This is what I am leaning towards at the moment. The downsides I can think
of here is that you have to make sure you walk on the stepping stones in
bare feet, and it's not as good of a surface for casters as the ones above.
While the whole idea was to get away from grass I could live with a grass
pathway. Downsides here are that it has to be watered, mowed, and edged,
but it does have good water retention and would look natural. Plus you can
walk on it in bare feet. Unusable for casters though.
6) other ground cover
One book I have suggests pavers or flagstones using just dirt as grout and
planting aromatic herbs between the stones. Idea is that walking on them
releases the smells. Kind of a neat idea.
So that's the extent of my thinking on this so far. I welcome comments and
suggestions from everyone, especially those that have direct experience with
3-7. Also if you have a suggestion for something not listed above please