Constructing Paths and Terraces

The paths are constructed based on one of three methods. For an overview of these methods please see: Lay "hard functional" Paving.
The beauty of the paths and terraces is really in the material, the shapes and the composition but we want them to last long with a minimum of maintenance effort.

We have flattened, leveled and tamped the ground and in most cases laid only a thin layer of sand, just a few centimeters (one inch) to stable an compact bearing surface for the hewn-granite slabs and pieces.

The Roji, that is the path that is laid in the gravel as well as the terraces have got a slightly different treatment then the paving for which we used the 1st method.
For the Roji-path we used the 2nd method, that is the thin layer of sand was mixed with dry cement. This is done to ensure that the Tobi-ishi will not move while stepped on.
The composite Oribe-path 4.a did get the normal mortar applied, using the "Sand and cement mortar" method. This is the only construct for which we used the 3rd method.

The usual mixture for mortar is one part cement to five parts of clean sand. This is however not what we used for the "Dry sand-and-cement bed" method. Instead we used less cement, say one part to every eight parts of sand. Then before placing the stones we sprinkled water on the mixture just to make it moist rather than wet.

The Terraces got a somewhat thicker layer of sand, some 5 centimeter (2 inches) and before the granite-slabs where laid we mixed some cement, only with the upper most layer of sand.
The "water terrace" is the most heavy used one and was dug-out until we hit the original (white) sea-clay which is as good as a concrete foundation.
For all terraces, we wanted moss to grow in the joins. For that reason we made a mixture of sand and clay that we put in the joins.As you can see later on, in this goal we succeeded very well. That is as long as the Blackbirds and Sparrows not take the moss apart.

The composite cut-granite (Oribe) path in the middle of the Roji (section C, see: Paths, Roji).

Based on the sketches and using the hewn-granite-slabs we had, we puzzled together a path that satisfied or aesthetic expectations and that came close to the anticipated size.

Using this prototype we created a wooden framing to hold the mortar. In it we put a layer of 2 to 3 cm (1 inch) of mortar (one part cement to five parts of clean sand). This is slow drying, so no need to hurry. One or two hours will be no problem.

After having leveled and flattened the mortar surface and flat we moved the pre-puzzled pieces of granite on top of the mortal will gently tapping them to remove air and slightly drill them into the mortar.

To draw extra attention to the "composite" structure we used broad joins of about 2 cm (0.8 inch).

After completion we gave it a couple of days to dry completely before we stepped onto it.
The finished Oribe-path. After a few years mosses started growing on the path and in the joins.

Also see: Paths, Roji and The Ginshanada.

Note that the raked pattern on the left gets frequently changed.

The stone used is hewn granite, flat but
rough on the walking surface and about 2 to 2,5 cm thick (up to 1 inch).
All stones have at least one straight
side. These slabs where acquired from a stonecutter.
The interplay of right angles and natural rough and curved forms is
thematic in Tsubo-en.
The "special purpose stones" where places level with only a layer of sand, that is without cement mixed through it. These won't go away without cement !

Also see: Paths, Roji and The Ginshanada.
The front-entrance path is the path with the Tobi-ishi ("floating stones") stepping stones. This path shows one of the subtle design principles. The illusion of depth and length is reinforced by the fact that the pathway border is not formed by parallel lines but constructed to be more narrow at the far end.

To reinforce the optical depth effect of parallel lines converging toward the horizon, the entry of the pathway is made about 25% wider than the far end. Unfortunately this works only from one view position, when looking back from the front door this effect actually eliminates part of the true natural depth.

Also see: The front garden compartment.
The front entranse doorstep is worth mentioning here. It is composed of 4 polished granite slabs of 6 cm (2.4 inch) thick, that we have broken ourselves from one large plate. It is the type that is usually used to make a tombstone.

These stepstones "float" in
the (gravel) "sea" that the ginshanada
This is an example of the Tobi-ishi, "floating stone" that lay in the Ginshanada, gravel area.
The front entrance path and this one that runs through the Ginshanada are constructed in the same way, using the "Dry sand-and-cement bed" method on top of a tamped base covered with

Also see: The front garden compartment.
This small and narrow utilitarian stairway is built using gray concrete "L-shape" blocks that are stacked front to back. To the left and to the back you see the "herb garden terrace"and the connecting hewn-granite path that runs through the middle of the herb garden. In the front it connects to the paved path.

Also see: The left side compartment.
We have yet used an other construction for the bath that runs along the "water side terrace" and connects the stairs with the hewn-granite path that leads to the "hidden terrace".

This is also a simple construction. We have first dug to the required depth and then leveled the soil with minor sloping to the back. Tamping was not required. Then we placed barrier cloth and the brick edge on the right. The gravel we used is called "Ardenner split" as it originates from the Belgium Ardennes. The color is in line with the paving colors you saw before.
This is the hewn-granite path as seen from the "hidden terrace" (2008). Under it just a centimeter or so (less than one inch) of sand.

Also see: The water front (back side) compartment.

In addition to the (main) Veranda in the main garden compartment, as the most important and most prominent terrace we have three additional terraces in the garden. All of these are located in The water front compartment.

  • The "Waterside terrace" offers an ideal place to sit out of the wind and read or watch the waterway fauna.
  • The "Hidden terrace" is located behind the O-karikomi.
    It was not as such included because we needed it but it merely was designed this way because the overall garden design resulted in this corner of the parcel to become a sort of "left over" in the water front/main garden border area.
    Nonetheless we have tried to integrate it in a natural way and we think this explains why the two stone seats are seldom used. Perhaps this will change when the trees on the right grow bigger to offer more shadow.
  • The "Herb-garden terrace" is very small and is the smallest terrace of the four we have. It is located on the junction with the left side garden compartment.
    The function is very much a utilitarian one. It offers the intersection of the small stairway to the water front bank (below), the path to the front of the house and to the duckboards that connects to the main garden.

Except for the Veranda all the terraces and the paths that lead to and connects them are paved with hewn granite and some marble.

When the sand is level and evenly firm, lay the slabs in position, leaving a small gap. . This is necessary to allow for manœuvre while forming the puzzle pieces.

Dry cement, in a one part cement to eight parts sand, was used to give a firmer base. Here you do not want to apply any water as parts need to be reshuffled before all fits to full satisfaction. The cement sets in time.

This photo shows the "water side terrace" just after completion. No moss in the joins yet !

The enclosing wall is built on a foundation of the same big 60 x 40 cm (1.3 by two foot) concrete tiles that where used for all walls. Here these form a frame around the area that is covered with granite.
The construction of this terrace is very much the same as the above described.

This shows the "hidden terrace" in 2008. Here the moss has grown nicely in the joins.

Also see: The water front (back side) compartment.
This shows the "herb garden terrace" in 2008. Here the moss has grown nicely in the joins. 2472

What did not work well

Here we document what went wrong with regard to the paths and terraces.

  1. Nothing worth mentioning here.

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