Wood paving is an excellent addition to any yard or garden. The natural beauty and texture of wood adds to the atmosphere of any area. Whether you are putting in wooden decks, paths, or patios, wood paving is performed in the same basic manner.
When choosing wood to use for paving, it is important to find wood that is rot and insect resistant. The best option is the heartwood of cypress, redwood, or cedar trees. An alternative is wood that has been pressure-treated with preservatives. The lumber that you choose should be prepared for ground contact and have a retention level — the amount of preservative in the wood — of 0.40. Railroad ties are an excellent option if they are readily available.
Wood paving requires the site to be carefully prepared and graded. After grading the site, put down a layer of plastic sheeting or filter fabric to protect the wood from too much moisture in the ground. Even with this protection, paving with wood is not as durable as masonry or bricks.
Paving can be done with wood rounds, blocks, or timbers. To pave with wood rounds or wooden "flagstones," start with a two inch (5 cm) thick bed of sand. Set the rounds on top of the sand in the desired pattern and fill in the spaces between the wood rounds. These spaces can be filled in with a variety of materials, including pebbles, bark, gravel, or soil planted with grass or another type of ground cover.
Wooden blocks are another material that can be used for paving. These blocks are cross sections sawed from large timbers that look much like wooden bricks. A wood edging should be built around the area, much like it would be for laying bricks in sand, with a one inch (2.5 cm) sand bed laid down. Set the blocks into the sand just like you would if laying brick. When the blocks have all been placed, sweep sand into the joints.
Railroad ties are an excellent material if you are paving a small surface, but can be very expensive when used for large projects. Railroad ties can either be set into the ground like wooden blocks, or can be used for a raised paving. A raised wooden floor may last longer than wood set into the ground, as it comes into contact with less moisture.
To build a raised wood paving, first build a frame to support the lumber. This support frame should be set on a bed of sand or on soil that has been tamped down. Attach the wooden decking to the frame using deck screws or galvanized nails.
Whenever working with wood that has been treated with preservatives, make sure you wear goggles and a dust mask for your safety. Never burn wood which has been treated with preservatives.
Written by Bronwyn Harris