Considering laying a gravel path? You’re in the right place!
A garden gravel path is a walkway that takes you from point to point - commonly from the back door to a back gate, between patios, greenhouses, and garden beds. These pathways mean you can avoid walking over plants, grass, and through mud. Gravel paths are also low maintenance and easy to lay, making them ideal for all types of garden design.
You can hire a professional landscaper to lay your gravel paths, or you can learn to do them yourself. We’re going to walk you through how to lay your own gravel pathway in your garden, but the same techniques can be used anywhere.
There are many types of gravel, but some types are more suited to gravel paths than others. Here are a few types that are recommended to use:
Standard gravel, also known as crushed stone, is most commonly made up of fragments of sandstone, limestone, and basalt, but include other types of rock in smaller quantities.
A small amount of gravel is naturally formed in streams and rivers, of which it is harvested from. However a majority of gravel is quarried and machine crushed, as there is not enough naturally available to meet public demand.
Standard gravel is the most commonly used type in gardens, either as mulch, for pathways, mixing with soil, or even as driveways.
This particular type can range from about one to three inches in diameter. A popular method for laying it is by using three different sizes to make three layers. This method can result in a more stable pathway and means the gravel is less likely to become dislodged. Ensuring at least a four inch layer of clean stone is ideal for both drainage and a strong foundation.
Clean stone, while composed of random fragments, is machine-crushed.
Laying a gravel path using quarry process is a good choice, either as the path itself or a firm base for other gravel to be laid on top.
Quarrying is the extraction of sand, rock, gravel, and other materials from the ground to be used for other purposes.
Also known as “crusher run” or simply QP, this is great for homeowners looking for a more stable solution for their garden paths. Quarry process is a mixture of fine stone dust and crushed stone - normally limestone, granite and trap rock.
Once it has fully compacted, the surface becomes very rigid and stable. This is why it is popular for use in driveways, pathways, and cycle paths. However, while it is still in a soft state, it won’t be as reliable. The stone’s edges help it to bond together while dust fills the crevices; thus, effectively reducing the void content and potential movement.
Like clean stone, quarry process is also machine crushed.
Marble is a rock that is formed by adding pressure and heat to limestone. It is commonly used in building work, home design, and sculpture.
Marble is quarried and then crushed to create the marble chips used in garden design.
Due to its ability to reflect the sun and “glitter”, and its bright white colour marble chips are popular for use in gardens as pathways and decorating around patios and flowerbeds. Marble chips are ideal if you want to make your garden path as more of a feature than just a walkway.
Be aware that marble is alkaline and can alter soil Ph if laid directly on top of soil. It is best to first cover the area with either plastic sheeting or compressed quarry process to avoid the alkaline contents seeping into the soil.
Now, before we talk about how to lay a gravel garden path, let’s prepare the materials to use. These are as follows:
Laying a gravel path doesn’t have to be expensive. You can have professional-looking results by doing the job right. Depending on the size of the path it can even be finished in an afternoon.
Try to visualise the outcome and imagine exactly how you’d like your garden to look. When planning, map out where your gravel garden path will go. You can use paint, string, or anything else that can trace the pathway for you. If you can, move to an elevated place and view the pathway from above, like a first floor window. This will help you visualise the finished product better.
Also, while you’re still in the planning phase, think about how wide the walkway has to be. Can it fit 2 people? Should it? Will any surrounding plants hang over the pathway? Take these things into consideration before starting your project.
The most typical path people create is to make a straight line from a gate to a door. This is practical; however, it is not the only type of path you can lay. For example, if you have a water fountain you may make a pathway around it. Alternatively, you can create a path that leads to a secluded bench, or any area of your garden.
If you have a patio, you can create a branching gravel garden path from the primary one to the patio itself. There are many more ways to go about this. We recommend trying to see what all the possibilities are before deciding on a final layout.
Getting enough gravel for your project is important, but the amount you will need will depend on the size of your pathway.
You can either head to a garden centre or contact your local aggregate supplier to see what types of gravel they have in stock. Garden centres will require you to go and collect the gravel you choose, but local aggregate suppliers usually offer both collection and delivery. Delivery is a good option if you’re ordering a large volume of gravel as it may be difficult to transport yourself.
Suppliers like Grabco delivery in their heavy duty lorries designed to carry heavy loads. Their grab trucks can even allow access to hard to reach gardens.
Dig out the soil from your traced path. A depth of about four inches deep should be sufficient. Using a square-edged spade may be helpful in digging straight lines and keeping edges even.
If you plan to use edging either side of your path, you will want to dig out trenches for the edging to go in. Using your spade, create a trench by digging out both the left and right sides. This will be the area your landscape edging will sit; thus, make sure to dig deep enough for the edging to fit in comfortably.
This step is optional but advised if you want to lay a sturdy gravel path. Add a 2 and a half inch layer of crushed stone or quarry process, being careful to avoid the trenches for your edging. Then, proceed to dampen it with water. You may now use the hand tamper to crush the stone. The hand tamper should ideally be 6-8 inches across, but smaller ones will still work.
Now, lay the weed membrane across the entire path. This will stop weeds from growing up through your path. Make sure to keep the shiny side facing upwards, and use pins, spikes, or pegs to hold the fabric in place as you go along. Make sure you don’t tear the fabric as you work.
Since “edging” is just outlining the path, there are a lot of ways you can do this. You can use bricks to lay a smooth surface or a pile of rocks that are about the same size and colour. You may even recycle old wine bottles. Flip them over and push them into the soil. If you have an extra sheet of steel, that works too. You can even paint it to coincide with your overall theme.
How deep the edging will go will depend on the type of soil. The height of the edging will also depend on your preferences. It can be as tall as you like, or just high enough for it to serve its purpose.
This would depend on the kind of edging you use. If the edging is flimsy or you would like to stabilize it further, pour a layer of concrete into the trenches you dug earlier then push your edging into it. You can then add more concrete to any gaps, or use mortar instead. If using mortar, allow the concrete to completely dry first.
If you suspect that it will rain, cover the area with plastic sheeting or the like.
With your choice of gravel in hand, plan out which layer goes first. As mentioned before, multiple layers can enhance the stability of the entire path.
Set each type by batches if you have multiple types of gravel. First, lay the batch which is largest in size and add each layer on top from there. This would leave the smallest type of gravel at the top. Pour enough so that the gravel would reach to just half an inch shy of the edging’s top.
Use your rake to spread it out until you can’t see the weed membrane anymore.
You will want to occasionally rake your gravel path or add more gravel to it as maintenance.
Creating your own gravel path is a simple process and makes for an easy project. Bear in mind that the larger and longer your path is, the more work it will require. If you can, get family members to help or dedicate extra time to do it yourself. Ideally, plan to make your path during drier months.
Ensure you use the right tools and choose the best type of gravel for your project. For all your aggregate and gravel needs, contact Grabco to find out about all the different types of gravel they offer.