There are a number of reasons to choose gravel for the garden: the satisfying crunch it makes underfoot, its general low cost compared with other hardscaping materials, environmentally friendly benefit of preventing runoff and erosion, and the fact that it looks good with almost any landscape materials style.
But with a huge range of stone types, colors, sizes and textures available, it can be tough to determine for a gravel for your application. To help guide the decision process, let’s get into some of the nitty-gritty information on gravel, including pages of some top materials.
First, we’ll walk you through seven questions that will help you decide on the best variety of gravel for your yard. Then, we are going to go into the material details of four common types of gravel: pea gravel, crushed rock, decomposed granite and path fines, as well as drain rock.
1. How do you want to use the gravel? Before you choose a gravel based on its looks, consider where you’d prefer to use it in your landscape and how you’d like the material to behave. Some gravels (like pea gravel) “roll” underfoot, while others compact to form a more stable surface, making it simpler to move a stroller or wheelchair across a gravel patio. If you’re mixing gravel with stepping stones, options with either small particle sizes (like decomposed granite) or larger stones (like river rock) are less likely to travel up onto the pavers.
2. What’s your spending plan? The cost of gravel differs by variety of stone and size of stone, too as what exactly is available in each area. Frequently going with a local gravel or one that’s commonly available in your neighborhood can reduce on cost.
In general, gravel is either sold by the bag (fill it yourself at a landscape supply store), in bulk by the cubic yard (roughly the amount to fill a typical pickup truck) or by the ton.
Cost-saving tip: One good way to keep costs down is to use gravel and stone local to your area. You’ll conserve on the cost of trucking in gravel from another region and you will use a product that naturally occurs in your area, making a design feel more connected to the site.
For example, in this Northeast front yard, the designer used a local washed gravel made from crushed bluestone to create a little satellite patio intersected by a flagstone path of Pennsylvania fieldstone. Swing by your yard store and ask which stones are local.
3. Do you need to accommodate wheels? If you would like to use gravel in an application that receives regular wheel traffic, choose a type that is less prone to rolling underfoot or getting stuck in wheels, making sure the gravel is properly installed on a compacted base. This includes gravel used for driveways or pathways and patios that you would like to make safe for wheelchairs, strollers, walkers and wheelbarrows.
For any wheel-friendly application, choose a gravel that is either very fine (like decomposed granite or path fines) or the one that has a large particle size (like crushed stone or drain stone) that locks in place. Gravel should be installed on a compacted base rock and thoroughly tamped down between layers, and it can be covered with a binding product to lock the path fines or stones in position.
Hire a skilled landscape contractor to produce sure the installation is done well — this will make a big difference in making certain a surface is safe for wheels.
4. Are you planning on mixing gravel with pavers? If you’re choosing a gravel to go with flagstones, select a color that coordinates with the pavers and a dimensions and texture of gravel that won’t travel up onto them. Decomposed granite (DG for short) and path fines work well because they compact and are fine enough that it doesn’t matter if a few grains of sand are underfoot on the pavers.
Large, chunky gravels have fat to their advantage: Gravity could be more likely to keep them in place. If you’re choosing a little- to medium-sized gravel ( into the size range of one-eighth to three-eighths inches), opt for a crushed gravel rather than rounded pea gravel. The razor- sharp sides of crushed gravel help with locking and reducing traveling.
Installation tip: To reduce gravel traveling onto pavers, first install a layer of compacted base stone, then lay down a top layer of gravel and flagstones, positioning flagstones so they are slightly over the gravel. Adding a binding product (washed on the top) after installing the pathway can also help lock gravel in destination.
5. Are you concerned with gravel tracking into the household? Save your hardwood floors by choosing a gravel type that will be less likely to track inside. Do a quick footwear test: Flip over your shoe to check out the size of the treads. Any little bit of gravel that is the same size or smaller than the treads on a typical shoe can be picked up, lodged in the sole and monitored into the household.
Large-particle gravels, like one-half inch and larger crushed rock and drain rock, have gravity and dimensions for their advantage and certainly will be much less likely to track into the house than decomposed granite, pea gravel and any gravel particle less than one-half inch across. Crushed rock also locks in place if properly installed. As with gravel and paver walkways, you can also finish the gravel with a binding product to hold stones in position.