Because it can conform to almost any shape, gravel is an excellent transitional material from house to garden and is the perfect option for covering paths, terraces and driveways. Gravel is also affordable and easy to install. Simply by mixing the various colors, sheens and sizes of rock, gravel will add depth and texture to most any landscape; and its natural and casual appearance works well with homes in most in any style.
A gravel driveway that is properly designed and built can serve as a lasting driveway paving solution. Using gravel to pave your driveway will be much more cost effective than other paving materials, such as concrete or pavers. However, gravel driveways do require a considerable amount of maintenance. Vehicle traffic will cause low spots and disturb the edges of your driveway. These problems will need to be repaired periodically.
GRAVEL PATIOS, WALKWAYS, PATHS
Gravel is an excellent choice for patios, walkways and paths. It has a very earthy appeal, is affordable and can be installed quickly. Gravel walkways and paths also offer an understated solution allowing your plants to take center stage. And, if you are looking for paving material with good drainage, consider pea gravel. Keep in mind, though, patio furniture can be difficult to move on a gravel surface, which may pose problems if you plan to dine and entertain outdoors.
Gravel is commonly used as a decorative accent with materials such as pavers. Gravel of different colors and textures can be used to create contrast with the pavers. While it may not offer as much customization as decorative concrete or pavers, there is a wide variety of decorative gravel options. You get to choose the color, sheen, texture and size.
Many landscapers use gravel as both a paving material and mulch.
Pea gravel is commonly used as a mulch material. Gravel can be applied around trees, shrubs and drought-resistant subshrubs. As a mulch material, gravel helps keep plant beds moist and weed-free and provides depth and texture. Gravel, though, should only be used around long-lived perennials. You also will need to prepare your beds prior to installation. A landscape fabric, such as a geotextile, will prevent the gravel from working into the soil.
Step 1: Choosing Your Gravel
Gravel is defined as rocks ranging in size from 1/8 inch to 1 1/2 inches. There are two forms of gravel: man-made crushed rock which has sharp, irregular edges and nature-made river rock, or natural pebbles, which is rounded.
When choosing which type of gravel to use, consider how you plan to incorporate the material into your landscape. For high-traffic areas, such as walkways, paths and patios, man-made crushed rock is the best choice. It creates a more stable surface. The most common size is 3/8 inch which is considered an all-purpose gravel that is also suitable as mulch around your plants, trees and shrubs. However, if you prefer a softer surface, consider using 1/4 inch or finer natural pebbles. For low-traffic areas, a good choice is river rock. While the pieces are less stable and not ideal for walking on, the larger size creates more presence.
Step 2: Installing Your Gravel
Use a tamper or roller to compact the area where you plan to lay the gravel. Once you have prepped the area, lay a two to 3-inch thick layer of gravel. Gravel can be laid directly on bare, weed-free soil; or, you may choose to use a landscape fabric as a barrier.
Step 3: Maintaining Your Gravel
To keep the gravel tidy, remove leaves and other debris with a round wire tine rake.