Path surfaces

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Natural surfaces

Strim or mow surface to define the line – this may need to be fortnightly from May to July and less frequently for the rest of the growing season. At the beginning of the cutting season, cut a wide enough area to include path edges, which can then be cut less frequently than the line of the path itself.

Monitoring of surface conditions will determine if additional drainage or upgrading to a constructed surface is necessary. Some improvements can be made by sowing amenity grasses in spring along the path line where heavy wear has resulted in loss of vegetation, providing that this will not have a negative impact on the existing habitats and species.

Unbound and semi-bound surfaces

Routine tasks include clearing leaves to prevent mud formation and treating weeds that emerge through the surface layer. Depending on the quality of the finish and drainage on the path you may find scoured ruts and potholes on the surface. Attend to water scouring on unbound surfaces quickly, to prevent it becoming a hazard or developing in to a pothole. Hide a small stock pile of surface material near problem areas. One person can easily shovel dust into the ruts, rake it out, and compact it to leave the repaired path surface smooth. However, look for the cause of the scouring and prioritise solving the problem. If a surface washes out frequently, it may be more cost effective to carry out an upgrading project by installing more effective drainage or even providing a bound surface.

A ‘quick fix’ for a rough or worn out unbound surface is to re-compact it. This will allow use for at least another season before re-dusting is required. Re-dusting should be done when a significant amount of base layer stone becomes exposed and loose. Surfaces on slopes less than 1:20 (5%) should last around 7 to 10 years. Slopes between 1:20 (5%) to 1:10 (10%) should last for 3 to 5 years.

Bound surfaces

In recent years bound surfaces have been suggested as a ‘maintenance free’ option. However, there are a number of routine tasks that are required to retain the original specification and accessibility levels.  These include weed treatment to prevent the surface from breaking up, and removal of leaf litter which, on bitmac and asphalt surfaces, can be a serious slip hazard for users, especially pedestrians and cyclists.

In the longer term frost, vehicles and water will eventually break up a bound surface. Expect 10-15 years from surface dressing (tar spray and chip surface), 15-20 years from a bitmac surface and 20 plus years from a hot rolled asphalt surface.

Surface dressing (tar spray and chip surface)

Re-chip exposed areas of bitumen, sweep off loose chippings and seal up cracks with bitumen. Treat weeds with spot application of amenity herbicide. Where extensive surface wear is experienced you can resurface with a new surface dressing layer laid on top of the old surface.

Bitmac and asphalt surfaces

Clear leaves in the autumn or winter and treat weeds before they have a chance to distort the surface. In winter, occasional salt and grit application may be necessary, where weather conditions dictate road salt or grit treatment. For major flaws, bitmac and asphalt surfaces can be ground up, re-mixed with bitumen and re-laid in one process. Rough bitmac surfaces can be rejuvenated by surface dressing with a new single or double layer of surface dressing (tar spray and chip surface).

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© 2014 Paths for All - Registered Scottish Charity No: SC025535, Company Limited by Guarantee No: 168554 inc. 19 Sept 1996 at Companies House, Edinburgh