If you're looking to do a bit of backyard landscaping, and want to create a nice walkway, then spend a few minutes thinking about the proper material. You have to take into consideration the weather in your area, the amount of foot traffic the path will get, and your aesthetic preference.
Below are some of the most common materials you can use on a backyard walkway.
Crushed stone is excellent for high foot traffic spots. You can get crushed stone by the bag at your local home improvement store, or have it delivered by the truckload. Crushed stone comes in different textures and colors. You can choose rough stone, or smooth stone. The smooth stone has been processed in a rock tumbler to eliminate the sharp edges. If you want people to be able to walk barefoot on the pathway, then opt for smooth edged stone.
Crushed stone works well in any climate. The only concern is if you have lots of trees that drop leaves throughout the fall. If so, then keep in mind crushed stone can be tricky to rake. You might need to get a leaf blower. Rakes will end up disturbing the path.
If you want stones, but want them to be large and impressive, then consider bluestone. It is a type of sandstone that is quarried in Pennsylvania and New York. The stones have a darkish, gray-blue color.
When choosing to make a bluestone pathway, you can either go the route of solid bluestone pathway, or a broken bluestone pathway. The solid pathway will use regular bluestone pavers that are dry-fit together to create one unbroken surface.
A broken bluestone pathway will use pavers that have irregular edges (hence the "broken" look.) These broken bluestone pavers will not be fit right up against each other. Rather, the pavers will be laid into a bed of either pea gravel, sand, or soil. If soil is used in-between the pavers, it allows for moss or grass to grow up for a rustic look.
Bluestone is great for high traffic areas. It is also fantastic if you want a walkway that is suitable for bare feet. If the pavers are joined snugly, then it can also be raked during the fall, and shoveled during the winter without issue.
If you want to go with a softer material, then consider cedar mulch. This is very easy to lay down. However, it will require more maintenance then stone walkways.
You can get bags of cedar from your home improvement store. You frame out the shape of the walkway with edgers (either brick, wood or hard plastic) and then lay down a sheet of weed barrier. The cedar mulch goes on top of this weed barrier.
Mulch is not great for high traffic areas, but it is incredibly soft and comfortable to walk on. If you have little kids that like to run around and play in your backyard, then you won't have to worry about them falling on stone and hurting themselves.
Every spring you will have to go over the pathway and patch up the spots that wore down. However, it's not a big cost to buy a few bags of cedar mulch, and once you have the initial path laid down, it is easy enough to maintain.