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Best footing for high-traffic path?

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  • Best footing for high-traffic path?

    What's the best plan for a path that leads barn to ring/pasture? Lots of foot traffic, slight hill, grass gets worn to dirt, and our area is very high clay, so that means slippery dirt path when wet! I have a neighbor that makes sawdust paths to her pastures, but her ground is also completely level and she does not have the foot traffic we do. Wood chips? Sawdust? Gravel? I don't mind if I have to replace it every so often, but I would prefer it be relatively cheap.

  • #2
    I would definitely do gravel. Ideally, a base with larger gravel (like driveway gravel), topped with limestone dust (or the like in your area).


    • #3
      How long is the path? That figures into the cost.

      You can't beat used shavings (minus the manure) for cost, since you were going to toss them out anyway. I've made paths to my manure pile that way, but mostly for traction in the winter, not to avoid mud.

      Gravel would work, but it will blend right into the mud. You'll have to keep "feeding" the path with gravel unless you put a base in.

      I have a VERY SHORT hill-path into our riding ring. I got those mats from Tractor Supply that are 4x5 and have holes in them (advertised as wash stall mats I think). I put those down, anchored them in with huge carriage bolts, then put screenings (small gravel) down over top. It's held up well, in fact I'm quite amazed that the carriage bolts haven't actually come out, I was kind of expecting them to. Oh, the reason they were there was because when it was dry, the mats were shifting downward every time we went down the hill. But if you have a long path, this idea would get expensive quickly.


      • #4
        1. Concrete. It works for interstates!

        2. Asphalt. Somewhat cheaper than concrete.

        3. Gravel. Have the pathway graded flat with an appropriate "cant" to deal with water runoff, if any. To prevent "sinking" first lay down a sheet of geocloth, then put your gravel on top. Around here you can buy it from the local Soil Conservation office at their cost (which is pretty reasonable).

        OK, the first two suggestions were a bit "tongue in cheek.: But not totally. Depending on local conditions either might be the most economical way to go over a long term.

        Good luck in the project.

        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


        • #5
          TSC also has thin rubber matting on a roll.......comes in 2 thicknesses..........you buy it by the foot, is about 4 ft wide...i also live in pa, same clay ,which is as slippery as ice with the added benefit of being able to sink into it!
          have the same problem with the path from dooryard gate to back door and path from back door to gate at dogs yard.....this stuff is perfect...........not nearly as pretty as gravel might be, but around here, the barn cats use gravel walkways as litter boxes..............so, this is the pefect solution....i have a very slight incline, and it is heavy enough that it stays in place.....i love it........and this last recent snow?......just shovels right off ,and the pathways are clear!


          • #6
            I say put down a barrier and use gravel. You'll want a slightly larger clean stone (about 2" roughly) and then top with road rock, that way it will pack in and you won't go skidding on loose rock, but the bigger rock underneath will facilitate drainage.
            It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
              I say put down a barrier and use gravel. You'll want a slightly larger clean stone (about 2" roughly) and then top with road rock, that way it will pack in and you won't go skidding on loose rock, but the bigger rock underneath will facilitate drainage.

              I've got stalls that open out to sacrifice paddocks and for about 20-40' out I've got this. Great for ice, snow, rain, etc. Easy to pick up manure. The guy that did it for me I believe scraped away the surface dirt and clay, put down # 2 stone and topped with stone dust. I usually add more stone dust every yr. I also drag my sacrifice paddocks come spring when they start to dry out enough so the surface is fairly level and easier to pick up manure piles.

              The paddocks drain down from the stall area so there is very little, if any, ice formation unless we've had a big snow melt, followed by a freeze. Even then the area where I have the gravel and stone dust stays ice free.

              I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


              • #8
                We use crusher run. It isn't too expensive, and it holds up to traffic pretty well. I haven't done a layer underneath, finding it easier to just put it down deeper, but I'm sure that a barrier is a better idea.


                • #9
                  When you look at costs (since a desire for "relatively cheap" was mentioned by the OP), consider the cost over time, not just the initial upfront cost. Around here, lots of people do paths with wood chips/bark as that costs less to bring in then a load of rock, but it doesn't last long, so you are constantly replacing it. Gravel will also migrate over time and probably have to be topped off once in awhile, but over several years, I bet it will be cheaper than wood stuff. I also find rock to be less slippery than the wood, here in the land of rain.

                  We have a path from our house to barn that SO put in this summer using geocloth and gravel and I'm really happy with it, but it is just human foot traffic there, no horses. He just used 5/8" minus (so with the fines) gravel on top of the cloth -- I'm not sure, but I think about 4 or 5 inches thick, maybe more. If this was a horse path, we'd have to put down more I bet, but for people, it works great.

                  The problem with rubber matting around here, besides the cost, is that dirt/muck gets dragged onto it and that gets super slick. Someone had the bright idea of putting mats down on the path to my horse's paddock where I board and over time, the muck has built up and I won't use it for fear I'll break my leg slipping! I do have mats outside the doorways to my barn at home, but we keep them cleaned off to prevent the buildup of slick muck.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
                    I say put down a barrier and use gravel. You'll want a slightly larger clean stone (about 2" roughly) and then top with road rock, that way it will pack in and you won't go skidding on loose rock, but the bigger rock underneath will facilitate drainage.
                    This... Geotextile and gravel in front of the gate solved the mud & muck problem. We also used it to build a pathway between the barns. It works... except when the horses paw the gravel and pull the fabric with their teeth. (I didn't believe til I saw the sillies doing this)
                    Equus makus brokus but happy


                    • #11
                      Being in the sand and gravel business, I HIGHLY recommend using crusher run. Its not a gravel stone but a limestone product. So it has the sharper edges for less movement and will pack down like concrete. If you are worried about the sharp edges (I used 1" crusher run in my paddock and have had no problems) top it with a few inches of stone dust. In our area, crusher run is crushed limestone with stone dust. I sell gravel at my plant and its a washed and screened product so its very clean. Its nice looking for a top dressing in driveways and boarders but I'm not a fan of it for high traffic area's as it has a softer "edge" to so it will move around alot more. And shavings, IMO, will just turn into a mess come spring time. Unless you put them down a foot deep.
                      R.I.P Vanny 26 yr QH Stallion 4/11/82 - 5/8/08, Scout 28 yr Paint Cross Gelding, Glistening 11 yr Arab/Saddlebred Mare