image by murrayneill
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.