Gravel garden ideas can create depth and bring structure to your garden, as well as adding a decorative touch depending on what type of gravel you use.
Whether it's a path to your front door, a walkway that meanders around your back garden or a destination path that leads to a particular spot, a gravel garden path can enhance the look of your garden.
There is a wide range of plants that struggle without very well-drained soil, and creating a gravel garden is a great way to enjoy them. Plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and California in the USA thrive in the light, stony conditions and are – by and large – very low maintenance. There is no need to water and minimal weeding; plus, the aromatic and silver-leaved plants that enjoy such dry soil tend to be more resistant to pests and disease. The only slog of a gravel border is its creation, and that can be started now.
Gravel garden ideas
These gravel garden ideas will inspire you to create your very own low maintenance outdoor space – and it's just as well that now is the perfect time to start creating a one, big or small.The benefits of gravel gardens are endless. Let us count the ways...
1. Use gravel in a small courtyard garden
'Keep it simple – don’t get too carried away when planning a gravel garden,' says Dan Bowyer of Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer (opens in new tab). 'A carefully chosen palette of materials and plants is often the most satisfying.However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be experimental within your small garden ideas. Just be mindful that trying to squeeze too much into a compact space will make it cluttered and decrease usability.'
It also pays to keep material in mind when designing your small courtyard ideas. For instance, gravel is not only low-maintenance and affordable, but it is also one of the most security-conscious garden path ideas as the noise it makes underfoot can be a good burglar deterrent.
2. Do use recycled and biodegradable materials for an eco-friendly path
‘Recycled or upcycled materials offer great options for gravel pathways. Used scaffolding boards or part-recycled composite materials, such as decking is a good choice,’ says Amelia Bouquet, owner, Amelia Bouquet Garden Design (opens in new tab).
‘Treat scaffolding boards with an eco-friendly wood preservative to deter rot, and ensure they are not in direct contact with the soil. For a flood resistant gravel pathway, try clay pavers. Lay them on a sub-base of free-draining sharp sand to make your path permeable, with an edging set on a mortar base for stability.'
3. Choose gravel to deter burglars
Gravel is not only cheap and low-maintenance, the often loud crunching noise it makes underfoot can be a good burglar deterrent.
Invest in a stone size that won’t easily stick in the soles of shows and get ‘walked’ into the house. Gravel can also be used to soften hard-paved edges and to unify unrelated areas in the garden.
4. Choose the best plants for a gravel garden
'Gravel is great for borderline hardy plants,' says gardener, Derry Watkins, 'because it’s usually winter wet that kills them. Mediterranean plants hate having wet roots. Also, the rock conserves heat. You don’t need to mix the gravel into the soil – just plonk it on top. Gravel is not cheap initially, but it’s low-maintenance in the long term.'
Do the groundwork now, then in spring plant drought-resistant gems, such as yucca, rosemary, helichrysum and verbena in the gravel and the roots will find their way down to the soil. When they bloom happily above the attractive stone, demanding minimal TLC, it’s easy to understand why this no-water style of gardening is becoming so popular.
5.Create a walkway with durable materials
‘When selecting materials, think about practicalities first and then the design effect you want to achieve,’ says garden designer Phil Hirst (opens in new tab). ‘A durable material such as gravel is a wonderful choice for a well-used path close to your house. Ideal for an informal path, gravel looks softer than solid paving and comes in a range of colors. It’s also relatively inexpensive, easy to lay and allows rainwater to soak through, helping to prevent flooding.'
6. Set up a seating area in a rock garden
Gravel is one of the best patio materials and so if you’re using it as part of your modern rock garden ideas then consider leaving space for a serene seating area. Be sure to have a decent-sized space which is completely flat, as shown here with slabs of pale stone. Then add a bistro table and chairs or sun loungers to create a private area for relaxation.
7. Edge gravel paths to prevent gravel from bleeding into the borders
‘Not all garden path ideas need an edge, but if you have gravel or grass, an edge can help to define the route,’ says Joanne Willcocks of Gardens by Design. ‘Metal edging is commonly used for grass paths, or you can lay bricks or tiles on a mortar base to create an edging that’s slightly lower than the grass, making mowing easier. A core gravel stabilisation system (a honeycomb-shaped grid that helps keep stones in place) is a good option. Look for an eco-friendly system made from recycled plastic.'
8. Create the ultimate easy garden
If you create the gravel border correctly, it will be the most low-maintenance part of the garden. Save for cutting things back and removing leaves, there is little to do. It’s vital to first remove all perennial weeds first, and get the right balance of soil and gravel – for example, if you don’t put a thick enough layer of gravel onto heavy soil, you will get weeds.
9. Design a winding gravel path
‘Straight paths made from stone or porcelain pavers are often used to emphasize a formal or modern style, while more rustic materials such as bricks, gravel or grass are ideal for cottage or wild gardens,’ says Gianna Utilini, owner, Gianna Utilini Garden Designs (opens in new tab). ‘Take a picture of your plot from an upstairs window and envisage how a path could enhance the style, perhaps using two routes that cross in the centre of the space for a formal look. Brick pavers laid lengthways along a path can further highlight the direction of travel too.’
10. Choose a low-maintenance dry garden
If you're looking for way to plan a dry garden, go for gravel. 'Lawns risk making our gardens bland, says nurseryman Oliver Filippi. 'Finding ways to replace them is a move against uniformity.' This on-trend design approach is both low-maintenance and eco-friendly.
Poor, stony soil is a bonus for creating a Mediterranean-style garden. Weeds grow less easily than they would in rich soil and ground-cover plants can spread comfortably without being swamped by competitors. A gravel garden is a good option, suppressing the germination of weeds almost entirely. This balance between plant and stone is characteristic of Mediterranean landscapes.
How can I make my gravel garden path look nice?
‘When planning a gravel garden path or walkway, there are many things to consider,’ says James Scott, MD and principal designer, The Garden Company (opens in new tab). ‘For example, is it a main or subsidiary route, which can determine its width and the material you choose? Will the color and shape complement the style of gravel garden and your house? And how will it direct people around the garden and link different areas, ensuring a smooth transition from one to another. If the path is on a slope, you will also need to use slip-resistant materials to make it safer when wet or icy.
Think about your garden edging ideas too. When it comes to keeping our gardens neat and tidy, getting your gravel garden borders right is key.Popular choices include stone, brick and concrete, while more creative options range from logs and shells to recycled roof tiles and coated-wire.
How to create a gravel garden
Creating a gravel garden is easy, simple and low-maintenance. Here's how to create a gravel garden, no matter the size or style of your outdoor space.
1. Choose a site in full sun. A lot of drought-loving plants don’t require shelter.
2. Remove perennial weeds. If the area is large, a weed killer may have to be used. An eco option is to put down old carpet, but this takes longer.
3. Prepare according to what you have. On very sandy, stony soil, add compost after removing top soil. On clay, remove top soil and add several inches of gravel without mixing it in.
4. Plant in spring, ensuring you choose drought-lovers, such as Russian sage, cistus and lamb’s ear.
Are gravel gardens low maintenance? ›
A gravel garden is a great option for a low maintenance garden. It also lends itself to Mediterranean-style drought-tolerant planting so things like lavender, euphorbias, Cistus, Santolina and Phlomis are ideal and provide plenty of nectar and pollen for visiting insects.How can I make my gravel garden look nice? ›
- Use gravel in a small courtyard garden. ...
- Do use recycled and biodegradable materials for an eco-friendly path. ...
- Choose gravel to deter burglars. ...
- Choose the best plants for a gravel garden. ...
- Create a walkway with durable materials. ...
- Set up a seating area in a rock garden.
Trees and shrubs tend to be the lower maintenance choices in most gardens. Pick ones suited to your soil and climate, as they're more likely to thrive without any special care. Common low-maintenance garden shrubs include euonymus, berberis, magnolia and hardy herbs such as lavender.How do you prepare ground for gravel? ›
How to make a gravel garden - YouTubeCan you grow plants in gravel? ›
The nutrients or water that most plants need are not present in gravel. In our gravel beds there is 6 inches of gravel above 4 inches of gravel-soil mix. To get to the soil, it takes a bit of digging and it's important not to get soil in the gravel because that's where the weed seeds can grow.What do you put under gravel? ›
Using a membrane underneath you gravel driveway or path will prevent weeds whilst allowing natural elements to permeate through to the soil beneath. It also helps to keep your gravel clean by creating a barrier. At Stone Warehouse we supply two different types of membrane.What gravel is best for gravel gardens? ›
- Popular types of gravel.
- Pea gravel.
- Limestone gravel.
- Slate gravel.
- Granite gravel.
- Marble gravel.
- Decomposed granite, hoggin or self-binding gravels.
Gravel-Lok - How to clean gravel - YouTubeWhat can I do with gravel? ›
Today, it is used to make concrete, to create foundations for new roads, to mix with asphalt, fill construction sites, and even create other construction materials like blocks, pipes, and bricks. In some cases, gravel is piled into blast furnaces and used as a flux.How do you build a low maintenance garden bed? ›
- Plant Low-Water Perennials. Colorful perennials, such as Black-eyed Susan, coneflower, succulents and salvia can take periods without water, plus they don't mind heat and return again and again.
- Pair Your Plants with Purpose. ...
- Create a Raised Garden Bed. ...
- Go Vertical. ...
- Make Your Own Compost. ...
- Mulch, Mulch, Mulch.
How do I make my garden less low maintenance? ›
Low Maintenance Garden Tips
Low maintenance landscaping involves methods for reducing the amount of watering, weeding, pruning, deadheading, and dividing you have to do on a regular basis. One way to reduce watering and weeding is to add a thick layer of mulch, such as bark or shredded leaves, to your garden beds.
How to lay a path with Wickes - YouTubeWhat to put under gravel to prevent weeds? ›
Landscape fabric is laid over soil and then mulch is layered on top of the fabric. Landscape fabric also works well beneath gravel, rock, or hardscaping. It also can be used beneath flower beds or ground cover to reduce weeds and the need for weed control.Can I lay gravel on top of soil? ›
Laying gravel on soil isn't difficult because it essentially involves clearing out the garden space, digging over the ground to stimulate the soil, adding coarse sand when necessary, digging an outside border, and laying a weed membrane over the area.What grows well in gravel soil? ›
This type of garden concept is characterized by gravel mulch, but may also include trees, shrubs, groundcovers, flowers, larger rocks, and differently textured hardscape details. The best types of gravel garden plants are perennials, ornamental grasses, and herbs.How deep should a gravel garden be? ›
Aim for a depth of around 4 inches and use a square edge spade to ensure the sides of the trench are straight and even. When finished, you should then smooth the bottom of your trench with a rake and compact it using a tamper or other flattening tool.What seeds will grow in gravel? ›
Bulbs include self-seeding Anemone pavonina, spring and autumn crocuses, blue Chionodoxa and grape hyacinths. All are easy to grow and love being in grit. Other distinctive gravel dwellers include the carmine-flowered Dianthus cruentus, a blood-red kidney vetch, aubrietas for spring and drought-loving sedums.How do you maintain a gravel path? ›
Longevity/maintenance: A gravel path will last indefinitely, but it needs upkeep. To keep it looking sharp, rake it and pull weeds monthly. Every few years, top-dress it with a few buckets of new gravel. Drainage: No special sloping needed.How do you clean a gravel bed? ›
How To Clean Garden Stones - Part 1 - YouTubeHow do you clean a gravel yard? ›
Gravel-Lok - How to clean gravel - YouTube
How do you maintain a rock garden? ›
Most rock garden plants are drought tolerant, need little fertilizer, and rarely require any pruning. The only main task is weeding, and this can be reduced to a minimum by making sure all perennial weeds are removed from both the site and any soil being added before starting the rock garden.What to put under gravel to prevent weeds? ›
Landscape fabric is laid over soil and then mulch is layered on top of the fabric. Landscape fabric also works well beneath gravel, rock, or hardscaping. It also can be used beneath flower beds or ground cover to reduce weeds and the need for weed control.What is the best gravel to walk on? ›
It's composed of rounded pebbles, so it is comfortable for pets or bare feet to walk across. Because of its round shape, however, pea gravel can't be compacted into a smooth surface.
The only permanent way to get rid of grass that grows in a gravel driveway is to pave over the gravel with concrete. Since that's not an option for many, the next best thing is to use a weed killer to remove the existing weeds and then use a pre-emergent over the gravel to keep new weed seeds from sprouting.What kind of shovel do you use for gravel? ›
A: If you want to cut into soil or dig into a pile of medium or coarse gravel, use a round point shovel. The tip produces minimum friction as it cuts into the material.How do you keep weeds out of rock landscape? ›
The most effective way to stop weeds from growing in rocks is to lay a layer of water-permeable landscape fabric beneath the rocks and create 3-to-4-inch steel or wood edging borders around the rock beds. In addition, use hand weeding, herbicides, and weed flamers to kill existing weeds effectively.Should I wash gravel before laying? ›
For larger grades of aggregates, pebbles or cobbles please speak to a member of our team for advice. Thoroughly washing the gravel once you've laid it will help you achieve the best colour and finish in your garden by rinsing any dust or fines to the bottom of the surface.How do you remove leaves and debris from gravel? ›
- Use a leaf vacuum to remove and bag leaves at once.
- Switch your leaf vacuum to its blower setting to blow the leaves out from the rocks.
- Use a shop vac as a leaf vacuum/blower in a pinch.
- Try a metal rake with flexible tines to remove leaves without disturbing rocks.
Rake Leaves Out of Gravel
Use a lightweight leaf rake to clean up gravel areas in your yard. A leaf rake has springy tines in the shape of a triangle and comes in light, flexible metal, springy bamboo and plastic. Rake towards you, using a light flicking motion to pick up the leaves without catching the gravel.
Simply brush the stone surface with a scrubbing brush using a mixture of water and washing up liquid or vinegar, and make sure to rinse off the large stones with a hose once the entire surface has been cleaned. This is a great method for removing algae in particular which is far more likely to surface near damp areas.