Lay "hard functional" Paving

For practical reasons, that is our quality of live and to have solid reference points with regard to garden locations and level-height, the front garden and left-side "hard functional" paving, and part of the utilitarian paths where laid first.

Apart from the access paths and drive, we have other paths as well. There are a number of service or utilitarian paths in the back garden and on both sides. Whether we like it or not these paths have to become an integral part of the garden. The good news is that most of these paths can be hidden for the visitor of the garden walking the garden paths and Roji. To reduce the unwanted effects of these facilities and have them fit in, where possible we have curved these paths and let them pass behind plants. Also we have used pavers with a less artificial, natural look and shape and of the same gray color, throughout the garden.
All this is one of the most serious compromises we had to deal with in our garden.

We have three areas in the garden where we needed "functional" paving. The front garden drive to the garage and the connection via the left side garden to the side-entrance garage-door, and the utilitarian paths and stairs that run from front to back at the right side of the lot and lay in the front garden, the main garden compartment and in the water front compartment.

There are three ways to lay paying (or gravel paths for that matter):

  1. Sand bed
    Laying paving on a sand bed is the easiest and most commonly used method and that is what we used for the "functional" paving area's. We also used this for specific area's of the garden Constructing Paths and Terraces.
  2. Dry sand-and-cement bed
    This method was used for the paths we refer to as Roji that run through gravel area's and the The Ginshanada and for the cut-granite terraces. See Constructing Paths and Terraces.
  3. Sand-and-cement-mortar
    This technique has been used only for the composite "Oribe" path, discussed in Constructing Paths and Terraces.

Note: As the bottom for paving must not be soft, depending on your specific situation, it might be necessary to lay drainage first.

Typical cement aggregate proportions are:
  • 1 : 3 for brickwork in buildings
  • 1 : 5 for garden brickwork
  • 1 : 9 for vehicular traffic (e.g. on a garden drive)
  • 1 : 12 to 1 : whatever for what is almost a "bound gravel" path.
Experiments with different mixes should be conducted well in advance of the main work.

This is how the house and lot looked at delivery in Oktober 1998.

First of all there was the driveway in front of the garage, which itself is out of line with a Japanese garden as such.

This is the single one construction work that we have "out sourced" to professionals. For both practical and budgetary reasons we opted for the use of concrete pavers with a semi-natural look.
99apr20 The so called "hard functional" paving was one of the first things to do after the house was delivered. An other job that got the highest priority was mounting the name and number plate.

The hole in the ground just under the name plate is there to make room for one of our garden electricity supply connections. This was extra work that you should not forget to do, preferably right from the beginning.

For the purpose of construction and getting a quote for pricing we made a detailed sketch of the required paving work.

Drive 2447

The main compromise here is that the regular pavers that we used contravene the principle that, in laying stones for a path in a authentic Japanese garden, you would be careful to ensure that you would never have regular shapes, let alone that these would be formed by the use of none natural-stone pavers.

Although a pavement's "surface course" (top layer) is most prominent, the success or failure of a pavement is more often than not dependent upon the underlying "subgrade" that is the material upon which the pavement structure is built.

Subgrades can be composed of a wide range of materials although some are much better than others. This all very much depends on your local circumstances. In our case the base-layer is the original (white) sea-clay which to my opinion comes close to concrete.
paving layers
There are a few of the aspects of subgrade materials that make them either desirable or undesirable and there are tests that can be used to characterize subgrades and draw conclusions for your specific solution. In Links related to paving you find all you ever need to know about the subject .... and more.

For the driveway and the connecting entrance path to the front-door and to the garage side-door, we used a kerb to retain the sides of the paved areas and paths. The kerbs should be put in place before laying foundations. Preferably stand the kerbing on a bed of sand and cement (3:1) and allow it to set. It must be laid level, or evenly sloping. Rough kerbing can be put in place without fixing in concrete and that is what we did. The kerbs we used have (almost) the same gray color as the pavers and are 1 meter long (3.3 foot) 20 cm high and 5 cm thick (8 x 2 inch) (photo below).

For the driveway we created a bed of sand onto which the pavers where laid. This layer of sand of about 50 cm (20 inch) was put directly on the lower, base sea-clay layer, tamped down and levelled (by the professionals) with a tamping-machine.

The paving is enclosed by means of concrete curbstone, 1 meter long ( 3.2 feet) of 5 x 20 centimeter ( 2 x 7.9" ) in the same color as the pavers.

The concrete-tile path came standard (photo: 1999). We have removed it to make place for a real Roji.
The stone we use have a slight curve 14 x 20 cm and 6 cm thick (5.5 x 8 x 2.4 inch), a rough surface and a color of Slade (when dry) to Charcoal gray (when wet).

To ensure sufficient rain water draining the drive must have sufficient fall to the right side. In our case that is the street side.

The junction between our drive and the street is a "standard" paved area that came with the street and is owned by the local authority (photo: 2008).
As the above design drawing shows the initial idea was to have duckboards in front of the front door.
Later that plan was changed. We had it paved with the same stone as the whole of the drive and later changed that into "floating" cut-granite floes and that is what you see here.

In this way the impression of the all-encircling Ginshanada see is further strengthened.
In front "the five Islands of immortality" in the front garden compartment. 1664
This photo (10 years later) shows the path that leads to the garage side-door in the left side garden.

Just how we wanted it, moss has grown in the joints.

What we like less is the wide of the joints has has more than double due to the kerbs that have moved apart.

How you need to deal with the drive and path-bed depends on the local conditions such as the subsoil. In our case this is pure sea-clay. This sea-clay is almost white of color as a result of the high degree of shell contained in it. It is also a long existing layer that offers a solid and extremely compacted base. The upper layer was heightened with soil found in the surrounding, which is a composite of sand, clay and earth.

If your underground is less compacted you may require to create a bed of compactable gravel on top of it as a basis for the top sand layer. Depending on the pavers size and form and the size of the joints you could use some landscape fabric on top of the gravel or sand to prevent weeds coming up. In our case the joints are so small that this is not required.

With reference to the groundplan in Design the architecture or in the Table of Contents for the exact locations, additional paving was done also for the utilitarian paths that run from front to back in the front garden, the main garden compartment and in the water front compartment.
All of the paths below, are only with minor exceptions invisible for visitors of the garden.

This path is located "behind" the main Tsukiyama and is squeezed in between it and the Taxus hedgerow on the right of the garden. It runs from the front wall to the middle of the garden where it splits in two paths.

The pavers we use have a slight curve 15 x 15 cm and 6 cm thick (6 x 6 x 2.4 inch), a rough surface with gravel in it and a color that shows close resemblance with the pavers used for the drive, that is Slade (when dry) to Charcoal gray (when wet).

On the inner side we have an additional row of brick that are placed vertically to offer an additional hurtle for the creeping groundcover and a gutter in case of heavy rainfall.

These stones are laid on a thin layer of sand just to be able to get them level and straight. The ground under it is very well compacted.
This shows the crossroads where the path splits into two.

One path on the left, continuous behind the main Karikomi and hako-zukuri and runs to the "hidden terrace".

The path on the right runs along the Taxus hedgerow to a small narrow utilitarian stairway at the end.
This path runs from the above, behind the main Karikomi and hako-zukuri to the "hidden terrace". From there a Roji style path connects it to the Veranda.

The pavers we use have a slight curve 12 x 12 cm and 5 cm thick (4.7 x 4.7 x 2 inch), a rough surface and a color that shows close resemblance with the pavers used for the drive and the connecting path (above), that is Slade (when dry) to Charcoal gray (when wet).
This path runs from the connecting path along the Taxus hedgerow to a small narrow utilitarian stairs at the right far ends of the water side and makes the water bank better accessible.

These paths are just wide enough to be walked with a wheelbarrow and that is how the adjoining plants are kept short.

Like the above most, both these paths are laid on a thin layer of sand of some centimeters (1 inch) just to be able to get them level and straight, without any further enclosure. The ground under it is very well compacted.

What did not work well

Here we document what went wrong with regard to the paving.

  1. Nothing worth mentioning here.

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