Outdoor living spaces have grown in popularity over the last few years. More people are beginning to see the benefits of having an outdoor living area (such as reduced stress levels, increased home value, immune boosts and more), which has led to a boom in the construction of patios, porches and decks. 

It’s also led to a new wave in landscaping, as homeowners look to do more with their yards. Part of landscaping is being able to enjoy it, which means moving from that patio or deck to the other parts of your lawn. While some yards are naturally easy to walk through, some can be muddy, rocky or have some odd slopes and hills that can make them challenging to navigate. 

That’s why adding a wooden walkway is also becoming a landscaping trend. Wooden walkways give you a place to walk that isn’t muddy, and they can help you traverse some of the rockier or uneven parts of your yard. Best of all, they look great and can enhance your landscaping at the same time.

If you’ve been considering adding a wood walkway to your yard, pay attention these 9 tips on how to make yours succeed. 

Wooden Walkway Building Tips

1. Plan Properly

Wooden Walkway
Image Credit – nextluxury.com

Most walkways measure about 36-inches wide. This gives you ample walking room but doesn’t take up too much space in your yard. To ensure that you’re getting a consistent width, sometimes bushes and other plants may need to be relocated to other parts of the yard, or you may need to reconsider the path your walkway takes. 

You’ll also want to plan where your walkway is leading to and from. If your patio is higher than your yard, the walkway may need to slope. If it needs to traverse over a few hilly spots, will it climb or will you use poles to create a single flat surface? Take the time to really look at your yard and plan your outdoor wood pathway accordingly. It’s possible to build over nearly any surface or slope — you just need to know what you’re up against. 

2. Dig a Trench

Wooden Walkway
600Image Credit – barbourproductsearch.info

Unless you’re elevating your walkway, you need to dig a shallow trench that you’ll place your sleeper boards into. This ensures that you can make your walkway level and account for any changes in grade or terrain. 

Remove any grass down to the bare earth, and line the dirt with a weed blocker. This will keep the grass or other plants from growing up into the middle of your walkway when it’s done. If necessary, you can level small hills or indentations at this time to create a flatter path. Make sure that your finished trench is the same shape and size as the walkway will be once it’s complete.

3. Bury Your Posts

Wooden Walkway
5Image Credit – greenandvibrant.com

If you do need to elevate sections of your walkway, take the time to bury your posts. Dig down a minimum of 6, but preferably 12, inches and sink your posts into this space. Use concrete to fill in around it for stability. Having your posts buried gives your walkway the greatest stability. 

Because it doesn’t have the full support of the ground beneath it, you want to ensure that your walkway is going to hold the weight of anyone who walks, jumps or runs along it. Having buried posts adds a layer of durability to your walkway that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

Keep in mind that if you are not elevating any of your walkway, then it’s perfectly fine to put your sleeper boards right on the earth; no need to bury these as well. 

4. Set Your Sleeper Boards and Frame

Wooden Walkway
Image Credit – sunroomgenius.com

While some companies are selling roll-out wood walkways that are a bunch of loosely connected wooden slats, a true outdoor wood walkway needs a frame. Sleeper boards are the most common way to build a frame on the ground. 

This frame will need to be screwed together end-to-end to make long, continuous boards. You want a minimum of three sleeper boards: one on each side and a third down the center. Your decking will attach to these boards, elevated a few inches off the ground.

If you are elevating your boards more than a few inches, you’ll build a frame on the buried posts as discussed in step 3, just like you would build a deck. Pay attention to your slope, regardless of the height of the walkway; you want it to be comfortable and easy to use. 

5. Level With Gravel

Wooden Walkway
Image Credit – houzz.com

When you lay your sleeper boards, you may discover some low areas in the ground. This is normal, but ideally, you don’t want any voids beneath the sleeper frame. Some people will use backfill from the trench they dug, but gravel makes a better fill in these instances. It drains well, and if you only removed grass, you may not have enough dirt to fill in with. Check the level of the sleeper boards at several junctions to make sure that your walkway will be level. 

6. Choose Your Decking

Wooden Walkway
Image Credit – nextluxury.com

You can use the same planks for your walkway as you would on a deck. This means you have a choice of traditional softwood decking, composites or hardwood decking. 

Hardwood decking is a lot more durable than either of the other options. It’s going to be lower maintenance and will withstand the initial installation, as well as constant foot traffic. Install your wood deck walkway with hinged, hidden fasteners to allow for movement with moisture and swelling, and hardwood decking will give you a beautiful, durable and long-lasting walkway that will enhance your yard.

7. Make Your Cuts Ahead of Time

Wooden Walkway
Image Credit – mosaic-gardens.com

Make your first few cuts of the planks, and check their placement on the sleeper boards. Once you’re satisfied, save time and energy by making all of your cuts at once, dry fitting them as you go and making adjustments before you fasten the boards down. This way, you can catch any potential mistakes before you make them, and your walkway will install more easily. 

8. Pay Attention to Drainage

Wooden Walkway

If you live in an area with a lot of rainfall, how will your walkway handle drainage? While the decking is giving you a firm place to walk on above the dirt, you don’t want your sleeper boards getting washed away or your foundation pitting with collecting water. 

If your yard isn’t naturally sloping and you see a lot of standing water or mud after the rain, you may want to install some drainage slopes on either side of the walkway to help any water drain away naturally. 

9. Protect Your Planks With the Right Stain

Wooden Walkway
Image Credit – onlinehomedesignblog.com

Your walkway needs the same protection from the elements as your deck does. This means that you’ll need to stain the planks either prior to or just after installation.

It will enhance the natural beauty of the wood, and only requires a maintenance coat every one to two years to keep your wooden walkway looking beautiful for many years to come. 

We recommend using the Storm Protector Penetrating Sealer & Stain Protector. It has 4 options to choose from so you can pick the one that suits your walkway the best.

Build a Better Wooden Walkway

Adding a walkway to your yard can really enhance your enjoyment of the space. Make sure that the outdoor wood walkway you build lives up to your expectations and helps you get more enjoyment from your outdoor living.

Editorial Contributors
Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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