Design Tips for Walkways

Design Tips for Walkways

This article was written by Len Hordyk, DynaSCAPE Product Manager – Design Solutions. Len has over 20 years of experience in the landscape industry.

Design is a creative process that gives you the freedom to choose the lines, shapes and styles that you feel are best suited to your project and your client’s wishes. There some simple design tips to consider when designing a primary walkway. Let’s use the example of a residential walkway that will function as a means to connect the driveway to the front entrance.
Approaching the Driveway – Most mistakes are made where the walkway opens up at the driveway. Most designers understand that you should widen a walkway where it connects to a larger area, like a driveway, to collect and funnel people down the path. The first instinct is to flare the walkway to a sharp point on either side (A). This is bad design from a construction point of view because it is difficult to shape materials like natural stone or pavers into a sharp point. Concrete could be formed into this shape quite easily, but this narrow section is structurally weak and prone to crack or break off, especially in colder climate with ground frost. It would be more appropriate to start flaring the walkway further back in order to end the edge at a much less sharp angle. This can work with both curves and square lines as shown in the examples below (B,C).


Designing Steps in Walkways – When placing a step or steps into a walkway design there a few things to consider. It is important to remember to use the same rise and tread for all steps, with a maximum height of 7” (80mm). If you are breaking up steps with landings, keep landings no shorter than 4’ (1.25m) with a preferred length of 5’ (1.5m) to allow for regular rhythm of movement. Dealing with a step at the driveway can be challenging and is often done incorrectly. Since most driveways have some slope to them, if you placed a step right against the driveway edge, the step rise would be become increasingly higher further down the driveway (A). This can be both dangerous and awkward. The key here is to place the step in the walkway away from the driveway, allowing you to slope the last part of the walkway to match the driveway (B). This may require something to retain the grade at the ends of the steps but the results are far more desirable.


Dealing with Longer Walkways – Large homes often need long walkways to connect the driveway to the main entrance. This often leads to long, boring walkways with little interest for the user so the challenge here is to make it an interesting and pleasant experience. This can be easily done by adding a focal point or several features along the way. One option would be to add a sitting area with a bench, or a place for planters or sculptural elements (see diagram below), keeping in mind not to disrupt traffic flow. Another option might be to add an expanded area with a different material or pattern to break up the walkway and add interest. Remember to flare the walkway properly at the road or driveway and place your steps in the right location(s).


Guidelines for Walkway Design

Guidelines for Walkway Design

This article was written by Len Hordyk, DynaSCAPE Product Manager – Design Solutions. Len has over 20 years of experience in the landscape industry.

When designing residential walkways (and pathways) it is important to think about the basic guidelines of width and slope for them to be functional.

Width Guidelines:
The width of a residential walkway depends on what type we are talking about: Primary or Auxiliary. A primary walkway example would be a main walkway connecting a driveway to a front entrance. An auxiliary walkway could connect a driveway to a side door entrance.

Primary Walkways
Primary walkways should be a minimum of 48” (1.25m) wide. This width is to accommodate two walking side by side. This width would accommodate wheelchairs as well. This does not mean all front walkways need to be this wide on every design. This is the minimum width – actual width should be proportional to the space and the size of the residence.

Auxiliary Walkways
Auxiliary walkways generally only need to accommodate one person at a time and therefore 24” (.60m) is essentially all you really need. This seems a bit narrow for some scenarios so I generally bump them up to 36” (1m). In some cases stepping stones could suffice instead of a solid walk.

Slope Guidelines:
Primary residential walkways generally should not slope more than 2% unless it is designed for wheelchair access. Any slope greater than 2% can be dangerous when covered in ice. Auxiliary walkways can have slopes up to 5%, but if it is well-used consider adding steps if ice can be a problem.

All walkways should have some slope to ensure proper drainage. So, how do you know if your walkway is exceeding 2% slope? A 2% drop over a distance of 10 feet (120 inches) is 2.4 inches. If your walkway drops more than 2.4 inches over 10 feet, you know you are over 2% (drop ÷ distance x 100 = % slope).

Whenever your slope exceeds 2%, use steps in your design. The key to the proper use of steps is to keep them all at a consistent height. 6 – 7 inches is the preferred height, while anything less than 4 inches is considered a trip hazard.

DynaSCAPE releases DS|Design v5.4

We’re excited to let you know that we’ve released DS|Design v5.4. This is a free update for all of our up-to-date DynaSCAPE clients. The main new feature that many have been waiting for is the new mouse-wheel zoom tool, which allows for quicker navigation within the software. Along with new features, we have also included a number of performance enhancements to improve the user experience within DS|Design. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the update yet, click here to read about all of the new changes and improvements, as well as instructions on how to download this update.

If you have problems downloading the update or your software is out-of-date, call us at 1.800.710.1900 ext.2 to resolve your issues and discuss upgrade pricing.


Rob Wieske

Georgia Summer Teachers Conference 2010

This past Monday and Tuesday (July 12,13) I attended the annual Georgia Summer Teachers Conference in Augusta, GA, for the first time. With well over 100 Colleges and Universities now teaching DynaSCAPE across North America, we are seeing more and more interest from instructors who are looking to implement DynaSCAPE at the High School level. The conference was attended by over 400 Agriculture Instructors from 320 Secondary Schools across Georgia.

The first day of  ‘Vendor Visitation’ was a chance to meet the Instructors. It provided an excellent opportunity to explain how DynaSCAPE can be incorporated into their curriculum at the High School level, and how this will better prepare their students for their future College/University design courses.

On the second day, I held two ‘Breakout Sessions’ which were 55 minute presentations on DynaSCAPE Software. These sessions were well attended, and allowed me to provide a much more detailed look at how DynaSCAPE benefits Landscape Designers and Design/Build Contractors, and why our software is being widely used throughout the Landscape Industry.

The event was well-organized, and I look forward to continuing to work with the GVATA (Georgia Vocational Agricultural Teachers Association) in preparing students for their future careers in the Green Industry.

Rob Wieske

A new year brings new challenges…

Hi Folks,

Its the start of a new year and at DynaSCAPE it is a very busy time. As usual, we can be found at a number of trade shows across the Canada and the US. Please stop by to see some of the exciting new changes we’ve made in the past year to all our products.

2009 was a challenging year, mainly because of the economy, but based on an excellent December sales report things appear to be improving. We hope this year brings improved success and more confidence to all of us in this industry.

This past year we put out new and better versions of DS|Design and DS|Color and the feedback has been very good. We have plans this year to improve all our products even more, and we hope to add a new product or two to the lineup. You should see a good number of small but helpful changes to DS|Design as well as an integration piece with Google SketchUp to give you the opportunity to create 3D models of your design. DS|Color will go through another phase of changes, one of them hopefully being an ‘auto-color’ feature to make coloring even faster. We are also looking at adding a brand new presentation tool that makes use of both newer technologies and our changing culture.

Developing software has it’s own challenges and things don’t always go as smoothly as you hope. Our goal is to make our products as efficient and easy to use as possible, and sometimes a seemingly small change can be more difficult than it appears on the outside. Like any business we continue to weigh out the cost vs benefits of everything we do. We want to continue providing tools for the industry that we passionately care about.

All the best for the new year!

Len Hordyk

Cool DS|Color changes coming…

Hi Folks,

I wanted to let you know that I’ve been testing a bunch of the new features and improvements we’re making to DynaSCAPE Color and one of them really stands out. We’re adding a Drawing Update feature, that allows you to make changes to your drawing in DS|Design and then automatically ‘update’ the drawing in DS|Color. I know you’ll be pleased about it, because it is one of our most  frequently requested enhancements.

This is how the Drawing Update in Color works: Say you’ve colored 90% of your drawing and notice a spelling mistake or you forgot to create a closed area on the drawing. All you have to do is make the changes on your drawing in DS|Design, save it, and then update the drawing in DS|Color. Everything you colored earlier will remain colored except any new things you add. And, there is no need to start over if the customer asks for a revision. It’s pretty smart too: if you move stuff around, like trees, they will remain colored. If you change the shape of an area it adjusts the color to the new shape. Cool stuff!

We are very excited about how well this feature is working and we think you will be too. We are making more changes to Color and I will keep you posted. These will all be part of an update to be released later this year.

Len Hordyk