How to prepare and lay gravel in your garden


There are many advantages to laying gravel in your garden with even more varieties to choose from. Whether you are looking to lay a new gravel path, create a decorative flowerbed or even have your whole garden layed with gravel I will be covering everything right here! But first, let’s look at the advantages to laying gravel in your garden.

The advantages to laying gravel in your garden

One of the best advantages to having a gravelled garden is that it is a much cheaper alternative compared to other methods that offer low maintenance such as paving or artificial grass. With prices starting from as little as £60 for a hole bulk bag of 20mm shingle which will cover an area of up to 10 squared meters depending on your depth, compare this same area to artificial grass or paving and your already in excess of the £150 mark and that’s before the materials needed such as type 1 MOT, sand and cement etc..

As well as the above, any hands on person willing to give it a go can do it! This means no splashing out on professional labour costs and even if you were to pay a professional landscape gardener to do the work for you, it will still be much cheaper compared to laying a new patio or artificial grass as it will be much less labour intensive.

Gravel is great for keeping your garden low maintenance providing that the preparation work has been done correctly. Weeds will be kept to a minimum and gravel is easy to clean – A fresh garden all year round!

I even had a customer ask us to lay their hole garden in decorative shingle after being burgled! This is due to the stones being noisier to walk on, although she did say that maybe now the dog won’t sleep through it!

The advantages to laying gravel in your garden include;

  • A low maintenance garden
  • Inexpensive compared to other alternatives
  • Looks great all year round
  • A good deterrent for burglars

The disadvantages of having a gravelled garden

As with anything in life, there are always going to be disadvantages to everything and that is no different when it comes to gravel. The first one being, especially if you have young children or excited dogs, and depending on the gravel that you lay in your garden, they can make a mess! I would recommend avoiding 10mm stones or pea shingle as these would be the messiest of gravel to choose from. 20mm stones or pebbles are better and slate would probably be the hardest to kick around!

As well as the above, don’t be surprised if next door’s cat starts going for a toilet in your garden! They have a habit of using stones to do their business and dogs included!

Gravel isn’t 0 maintenance. You are still going to get the odd weed come up here and there but as long as the preparation is done correctly then they will have nothing to root to and will be easy to remove.

My full list of disadvantages to laying gravel in your garden include;

  • Gravel can be messy
  • Gravel can attract animals to use your garden as a toilet
  • Be careful of your dogs as some of our customer’s dogs enjoy picking at the stones and running around with them (choking hazard)
  • As with anything, gravel is not 100% maintenance free as you will still get the odd weed here and there and your stones will still needs cleaning once a year

Before we begin, let’s look at the tools needed to lay your new gravel in your garden

To be as transparent as possible, in this article I have included links to the Amazon store for products that will help lay gravel in your garden. As an Amazon affiliate partner we receive a small commission when an item is purchased via a link on this website.

You will need a spade for digging the ground where you will be laying your new stones as well as help with the shovelling of your gravel.

A stanley knife is the best tool for cutting your weed control fabric.

A rubber mallet is handy for tapping any edging boards or bricks into place when creating borders to contain your gravel as well as pegging down the weed control membrane.

Don’t forget your wheelbarrow! How else are you going shift the earth and move your gravel from the bulk bags to your garden? Unless you are buying in small bags ofcourse and the ground is already dug out!

How to prepare your ground for gravel

1. Dig the area of where your gravel will be layed

Depending on your gravel I would recommend a depth of 2-3 inches. Hopefully you just have a level ground so that all you need to do is dig the area…nice and easy! If you are looking to lay a gravelled path then dig the shape of the path to the same depth of 2-3 inches.

If you have something in the way of where you want to lay your stones such as an old patio then you should be fine laying your gravel on top providing that your old patio has proper drainage ie. Doesn’t puddle.

2. Install borders to keep your gravel contained

This isn’t always necessary depending on your plans but if you are having a gravelled flowerbed in your garden, a gravelled path or anything else where you need your stones to be contained then you will need some kind of border. Below are some examples of the borders you can use to keep the gravel contained in your garden. We have partnered with Amazon to find you the best deals with the quickest delivery times.

These garden borders are great simply because they are so easy to install, small enough to create gradual bends and prices start at just £13.99 for 20 pieces covering 5 meters!

The spiked log roll is another great option as they are easy to install and you can shape them round bends such as curved paths. Much easier compared to the more traditional log rolls that have a habit of falling over!

This lawn edging is my favourite for keeping gravel stones at bay in your garden. Simple, modern, bendy, will match any garden decor and best of all…it’s plastic meaning that it will last a life time!

My final recommendation is to use bricks as a border. These ones in particular are the thinner, block paving bricks which will save the digging needed compared to using full sized bricks.

The above are just a few of my border ideas for keeping your gravel contained in your garden but it’s worth looking around as there are so many options!

3. Now it’s time to lay your weed control fabric

Make no mistake, laying your weed control fabric is the most important factor when having a low maintenance gravelled garden. Without it, you would be better off keeping your grass because weeds will grow everywhere and they won’t be easy to pull out rooting into the earth below.

There are 2 options available which include a cloth fabric or plastic – Both drain water. I would recommend laying the plastic weed control fabric that I’ve listed above as this will take much longer to deteriorate.

If you are laying gravel in a new flower bed then lay the weed control fabric across the entire area and cut cross slits as and when you plant your new flowers. This way you can fold the membrane back up to the stem of the plants keeping the weeds at bay!

4. It’s time to lay your gravel

Finally the ground has been dug, the edging boards installed, weed control fabric layed and all that’s left is to do is lay your gravel and your all done!

If it’s a large area that you will be gravelling then I would recommend levelling your gravel upon each wheelbarrow load as it’s a nightmare doing it all in one go!

How to maintain your gravelled garden

There isn’t too much maintenance required providing that the above steps have been taken, especially the laying of the weed control fabric. But you will still get the odd weed pop up here and there so be sure to have a check once a month at least. The good news is that they will be easy to take out as they will have no earth to root to. Being gravel, you could always use a weed killer spray if you don’t fancy getting on your hands and knees!

As with anything in your garden, your stones will get dirty. The lighter they are the dirtier they will seem and green algae loves to grow on stones! Simply going over your stones once per year with a jet wash will leave your stones looking new all year round so it’s worth having one handy!

Gravel ideas for your garden

Below are some gravel ideas for your garden as there are so many options to choose from. If you have a large area to cover then purchasing by the bulk bag is definitely the most cost effective method compared to purchasing in small bags from your local DIY store. Here are the 6 most popular gravel options from experience although please read the descriptions as some may be better for decorative purposes such as flowerbeds and water features whilst others are best for walking on.

10mm pea shingle is the smallest of stones and is especially great for thin borders when going around the outside or in between something such as between a patio and fence as it gets into everything. The only downside is that it can be messy when walked on and is harder to clean, as a pressure washer is more likely to move the stones as opposed to cleaning them.

20mm shingle is the cheapest and probably the most popular way of covering your garden in gravel and will match most garden decor, although I wouldn’t call this a decorative stone.

The polar white 20mm stones are great for decorative purposes but will naturally require more cleaning and will need the right garden decor to match. Regardless, they are a beautiful stone!

If you like the white 20mm stones then you might like the larger 40-90mm cobbles which look great in flowerbeds and around water features. Although they wouldn’t be the best for walking on!

The Cotswold stone chippings are my personal favourite decorative gravel which are light in colour, easy to clean and perfect for walking on at 14-22mm!

40mm blue slate is perfect for walking on as it is hard to kick around and therefore the least messy of the above aggregates. Being 40mm they are also easy to clean but are also available in a 20mm option which I think are just as good.

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