Landscape Pathways

Whilst pounding away at the 'Y' on a treadmill, I ran metrics in my head to keep myself entertained.  
At last count I figured that I have now circumnavigated the globe on foot; about 24,000 miles in this lifetime!
 
We all follow one Path or another;  
in the literal sense, let's build paths of beauty;
 
I suppose that goes for the metaphysical sense as well. 
Sand-Set Custom Concrete Pavers w/gravel joints
stone path with grouted joints
Don't use this bar-stool in a bar fight,
it weighs...well...large...
Fashioned in my 'Imaganarium' from rebar and stainless steel tubing, it is both sculptural and actually quite comfortable upon which to sip a cold one.
 
Now that we are off topic, I may as well mention the cantera stone vessel in the background. 
Once a cool horse watering trough in ole Mexico, (cool as in temperature, now as in awesome),
its rugged mass is highlighted by a dense planting of pansies (work out the yin/yang on your own).  
Sculptural elements that actually have multiple functions are essential in any exterior design.
 
Anyway, this photo is included here in 'Paths' because I wanted you to see just how far you can go with Integral Color Concrete Pavers.  I custom cast pavers & tiles such as these for years in my humble 1/4 block living/working compound.  The process is hugely simple and cost effective;  adding a bit more animation to your outdoor life.
Mortar-Set & Grouted Stone pathway. What can I say, most elegant!  (Better use a Pro for this type of execution gang). 
Stone path in mixed joint media
Mortar-Set & Grouted Stone landing, with Sand-Set Stone pathway.  
 
Note transition from tight joints in stone path to stepping stone layout embedded in a compacted path of washed gravel.  This mix of style/applications requires a fine eye for balance;
one must exercise 'restraint' -
maintain a simple elegance.
stone patio and steps
Sand-Set Basaltic Stone path leading to sand-set stairwell.  
 
Note: the complementary use of same dry-stacked stone at tree-well.  
 
Understand, that 'sand-set' does not mean that you do not need an ample amount of mortar as well when building.
 
The steps, and edging will maintain their integrity and not fall apart, if you are generous with a mortar bed under key edging stones.
Traditional Mortar-Set & Grouted Brick path.  Such precision work often equates to higher costs.  
Modular Concrete Paver System.  Sand-Set with Mortared Edging (to hold the paving pattern together).   Very popular today, relatively fast to install, competitively priced; a bit boring but they do the job.
NOTE that Somewhere within the depths of this website you will (eventually) find a discussion on Sand-set installation & materials.  Whether installing pavers or stone the base must be appropriately engineered ie adequate excavation of native soils & grading for positive runoff; installation of a compacted aggregate base; a dusting of mortar sand; grid layout established for paving pattern; paver cuts were appropriate; and finally sweeping fine sands into joints.
mixed media paving pattern
Mosaic Mix of Custom-Cut Paver materials 
Check it out:  
Integral color concrete pavers, old brick, sand/flagstones (as opposed to basaltic & granite flags in photos above), some slate, and a sprinkling of stained-glass integrated into some of the custom concrete pavers.
Mortar-Set Stepping Stones fashioned with five pavers per stepping stone.  Sometimes a single, monolithic piece does not complement the patio which it is built to join.
Sand-Set Stone pathway, approximate one to three inch joints to allow for future ground cover inlay planting.
concrete demo waste landscape pathway
Oh man, another favorite.  Off to the left of this salvaged path, was a concrete slab slated to be demo'ed & removed, (you can rent a jackhammer; its actually a lot of fun).  The Broken Pieces of Concrete Slab were salvaged & stacked, then used to build this awesome garden pathway.  See, Paving Patterns, for a few installation tips, and more paving pics.
Sand-Set Stepping Stone path, with six to eight inch joints, to allow for re-seeding of existing lawn.  
And yet another Sand-Set Stepping Stone path, cutting its way though this lawn.  Just buy the stones, lay them down, mark their perimeter, flip stone, cutout sod & add a compacted sand base, then flip the stone back into place.  
Leveling the grade with the lawn allows for ease of mowing (right over the stone).  Here's a tip:  when laying out a stepping stone path though an open space, note the comfortable length of your stride before committing the stone into the earth.  Here's another for you 'big picture' people: Once, while laying out paths through a University's grassy mall between buildings, I first plotted the telltale trail of bee-lining students through the grass; the paths were then laid out accordingly, (get your butts off the drafting stool and into the field once and a while guys)...
Compacted Aggregate path with stone border.   A simple recipe that does not require skilled labor.  Excavate the limits of the path (length, width, depth) to be constructed; roll-out landscape cloth as a weed barrier (see accompanying photo below); lay the border stones (best in a bed of mortar); fill-in with 3/4" minus aggregate to a 3 to 4 inch depth and run a gas operated compactor/tamper over the surface; top-off with 1/4" minus ornamental aggregate; tamp with compactor to a finished surface.
A choice of earth-tone colors are available from your sand & gravel supplier.  In this case we used a crushed, black stone to complement the border.
Note: depth of excavation, approximately six inches; constructed stone border; landscape cloth.
Extra pics for this Compacted Aggregate as a pathway material.  As mentioned, you cannot beat the low cost of materials
In terms of labor, like most any path, you will need to excavate, and hopefully have a useful spot to utilize those spoils.  Edging can be of steel, stone, brick, wood etc.
Another Compacted Aggregate path; this one is edged with steel.
Note the change in Aggregate Coloration.  There are a number of colors to choose, depending upon what your local quarries and suppliers carry.
Note how the path integrates with a stair system.  The tread of these steel stairs are made of the same compacted aggregate.  
See, Stairs and Steps.
crushed cantera stone pathway
Crushed Cantera Stone path, edged in mortar-set river rock planting beds.
Nuance is a designer's best friend, capturing sensory experience on as many levels as possible.
I sought out a particular sound for this path to express. Other crushed or water worn gravels did not even come close to the 'soft crunch', this crushed cantera stone pathway provided.
Canopied by lemon & orange trees, vined laced walls, fragrant shrubs, deep, shadowed perspective views, and the sound of water, with a crunch underfoot.
Stone is so very versatile as a paving material for pathways.  Split-face, quarry cut, crushed, tumbled, and just pulled out of a stream bed, after a tumble down a mountainside, Tumbled River Rock. Its all good..., and it all works.  Choose wisely to conform to both the aesthetic of the project, as well as its function in the larger landscape.
In this case, stream, tumbled stone was utilized to build this riparian path through and over a perennial stream-bed.  
Note the additional embankment work and swale, conforming to the same path material.  Be sure to dig deep and bed each stone well into the native soils.  
This overflow basin/swale has been channeled with positive drainage alignment in order to drain into a grove of existing riparian trees.