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The Ultimate Guide to Gravel

Wednesday 26 June 2019 11:51

Gravel reduces garden upkeep, plus it’s economical and easy to work with. It instantly transforms a garden, drive, path or pond, making it a hugely popular aggregate.

Whether your ground is flat, sloping or uneven, with such a huge range of gravel types, there’ll be a product to suit.

Gravel is an ever-popular choice with increasing demand and we receive many FAQs on this topic. We’ve put together everything you need to know about gravel. We’ll take a look at its varied uses, how much you’ll need to buy for your area, how to lay a gravel path and more.

Gravel uses

    Both functional and decorative, gravel varies in size, shape and colour. It can be the main focus in a garden, complement other features or function as drainage in soil.

    What can gravel be used for?

  • Mulch substitute
  • Water drainage
  • Patio base
  • Pathways
  • Driveways
  • Rockeries
  • Base layer under tarmac
  • Pebble dashing
  • Surrounding water features/swimming pools/ponds
  • Decorative borders and edging

Gravel benefits

Reduces maintenance – gravel suppresses weeds and requires no mowing, watering or feeding in comparison to other garden surfaces.

Drainage – gravel cannot retain water so provides numerous natural, drainage benefits - and leaves your surface puddle free.

Versatile – this multifunctional product is both decorative and functional. It can be used as mulch, for paths, driveways, borders, pond edging and much more. Gravel allows for a wide scope of creativity, available in a wide range of sizes, colours, textures and shapes.

Highly durable – Gravel rarely gets affected by rain, snow or any adverse weather conditions.

Security measure – Gravel makes a distinct, crunch sound. It’s an effective driveway material for security, alerting the homeowner if someone is outside.

Easy to lay – gravel is a common material for paths, driveways and borders as it’s one of the most simple to lay.

Drought resistant  – it’s perfect for mulch, helping plants to survive hot weather. 

Choosing your gravel

Here at Decorative Aggregates, we stock a wide range of colourful gravel and aggregates in a variety of sizes to suit your needs. 

Gravel is a versatile product and different gravel types are more suitable for  certain purposes. 

Paths and driveways

Medium-sized gravel is ideal for paths or driveways. The stones need to be comfortable to walk on with minimal movement. Choose angular gravel that won’t displace easily.

10mm or 14mm gravel is the most suitable for paths.

Cotswold Gold

The 14mm Cotswold Gold Gravel is a popular choice due to its warm, golden tones.

20mm gravel is ideal for driveways.

Lomond Gravel

The understated 20mm Lomond Gravel contains angular pieces that interlock, creating strong ground cover for a driveway. The Lomond Gravel is best laid approximately 4-5cm deep for a durable coverage.

Resin bound is a long-lasting, hard-wearing option for a driveway. It’s a popular choice due to its uniform and consistent surface which is fixed, it provides a permeable surface solution and gives a no-mess surface. Resin Bound is a method of applying gravel with resin, to an existing concrete or tarmac drive - giving the ultimate low-maintenance driveway. If you have a sloping surface, Resin Bound is immovable and therefore the perfect solution.

Mulch 

Gravel is the ideal material for mulch on top of soil, aiding moisture retention in warmer weather. It provides insulation from temperature fluctuation and gravels such as Cheshire Pink, Cotswold Buff and Pea gravel create a very effective and attractive solution.

Decorative gravel

White gravel gives any outside area an impressive wow factor. 20mm White Marble highlights planting areas beautifully and is a bright, modern contrast to slate rockeries.

The stunning Silver Blue Granite Gravel isn’t your everyday gravel and adds a sparkle to any landscaping area. So if you’re looking for a unique, contemporary feel in your garden, Cornish Silver is the ultimate choice.

Pea Gravel is the perfect natural looking accompaniment to water features and ponds. Edge your garden water elements with this beautiful mix of rounded chestnut brown gravel to really make it stand out.

With so many colourful gravel options, you can get innovative with your decorative garden designs, creating something truly unique to you.

How to calculate the correct quantity of gravel

A common question is ‘how much gravel do I need?’. We’ve put together a handy gravel calculator to do the maths for you. Understanding how much you need is vital to avoid running out or wastage and unnecessary expense.

Enter the length, width and depth of your area and the calculator will output the approximate volume of gravel you’ll need.

If you have any questions, feel free to call us for advice on 01629 630256.

How to lay a gravel garden path

We’ve put together a handy guide to laying a gravel border. Here is a run down of the steps and you can read the full guide here.

Gravel path

1) Plan your gravel path shape

Use string or marking paint to create the route for your path.

2) Calculate the amount of gravel needed for the area

You can use our simple gravel calculator for this. 

3) Choose the ideal gravel aggregate

Gravel up to 16mm in size is generally the most suitable for a garden path. 20mm slate is also useful to help form a flat, comfortable surface for walking on.

4) Mark and prepare the area

Once you’re satisfied with the shape and route, it’s time to dig.

5) Dig a trench

Aim for a depth of approximately 4 inches. Once you’ve finished, smooth the base with a rake and compact is using a flattening tool.

Edging trench

6) Enclose the path with a border

Choose from metal edging, bricks, wood and stone.

7) Line the trench

Lay down approximately 10cm of crushed stone onto the soil and compact this down with a sledge hammer or plate compactor.

8) Weed prevention

Lay a weed-resistant membrane, preventing weeds from sprouting through your gravel.

9) Lay your gravel

Carefully distribute your gravel evenly on top of the membrane, to a depth of at least 2-3cm.

 How to clean gravel

Before your gravel is laid, the following is the best way to clean this:

1) Firstly, you’ll need a large strainer. You could use a sieve for this, or if you choose a bucket or a wheelbarrow, you’ll need to drill holes into its base.

2) Place your gravel into the sieve/bucket and rinse this with water using a power washer. Wash the gravel for approximately 30-60 seconds and move the gravel around to ensure all sides are rinsed.

3) The water should drain from the holes and you can lay your clean gravel.

If you need to remove fallen leaves from your gravel, simply give the gravel a gentle sweep with a soft broom.

Maintaining gravel areas

Gravel is low maintenance but does pose a small number of maintenance issues:

  • Weeds
  • Sparse spots
  • Bedding in

Weeds

Weeding by hand can cause disruption to your gravel covering. There are alternative methods.

Adding a preventative method before laying your gravel will be the most effective. Laying a weed control membrane or fabric below the gravel will prevent weeds from breaking out in the first place.

Membrane 

Alternatively, if you already have weeds sprouting in your gravel, here are some weed-busting techniques: 

  • Remove any weeds that you can see poking through your gravel. In the same areas, spray weed killers (or herbicides) containing glyphosate.
  • You can also use salt as an effective weed-killer. Avoid scattering the salt all across your gravel area, instead target just the problem weed areas. Create a solution by dissolving salt into water with a 3:1 ration (in favour of water). Following this, it’s a good idea to water any surrounding plants - no matter how far away they seem from your salt solution dispersion.
  • A further, more natural method is to use boiling water (please take care with boiling water if you choose to go ahead with this method). Pour the boiled water onto any weeds at a close distance to kill them.

You can read more about these in our Guide to Weed-busting: Protecting Your Garden Gravel & Slate Chippings.

Sparse spots

  • There isn’t a huge amount you can do to avoid gravel spreading. Just make sure to keep an eye on any sparse spots of aggregate and rake the gravel to cover up any areas looking thin
  • If you find thin areas to be a regular issue, it’s a good idea to simply just top up with spare gravel. 

Bedding in 

  • This issue usually occurs on driveways - gravel can ‘bed in’ where it experiences a lot of traffic. Tyre tracks may appear, compacting the gravel and creating hollows in the driveway.
  • Again, the best solution for this is to top up any hollows with spare gravel. Once you’ve topped up, it should be a few years before you’d need to do so again.

FAQs

What is gravel?

Gravel is an aggregate consisting of loose rock fragments. Gravel comes in a range of fragment sizes, from boulders down to much smaller granular fragments.

Gravel is used for a number of applications such as driveways, paths, mulch and pebble dashing.

What is pea gravel?

Compared to other types of sharper, rougher gravel, Pea gravel has round and smooth edges. Pea gravel is often used in garden landscaping and is a fantastic complement to a water feature.

Pea gravel

How much gravel do I need? 

As a rough estimate, an area 5m x 5m, with a 40mm depth, needs 3 bulk bags of gravel.

When you’re deciding how much gravel you require for your project, simply use our easy gravel calculator.

How deep should gravel be?

If you are using a 10mm gravel aggregate, lay this at a depth of 30-40mm. However, if you are using this for the purpose of a driveway, this should be laid at least 50mm deep.

When using a 20mm aggregate, this should be laid at least 40-50mm deep, and at least 50-60mm on driveways.

How much is a ton of gravel?

At Decorative Aggregates, the price of gravel varies based on the type of gravel and delivery location.

Simply enter your delivery postcode on your chosen gravel product to see a price for a ton/kg of gravel.

What is self-binding gravel?

Self-binding gravel creates a natural gravel effect but has a firmer finish.

When you need a hard bound surface that isn’t artificial, self-binding limestone is the perfect solution.

It is blend of limestone from 10mm down to dust. This is applied at 75mm deep and rolled to create a finished depth of 50mm.

What to lay under gravel?

To prevent weeds from sprouting through your gravel, you should lay a weed prevention membrane. This also allows water to drain away from the graveled surface.

Place this on smooth, compacted ground. The sheet can easily be cut to fit the shape and size of your graveled area.

If you have any other questions about gravel, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01629 630256. 


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