How to Create a Gravel Garden

Simple Steps to Gravel Gardening

Gravel walking path-how-to-create-a gravel-garden
Gravel Walking Path

One of the great things about garden and landscaping is the many designs that are there to choose from, there are so many styles that can bring that flavor turning and area that is an eyesore into a work of art. Constructing a gravel garden can bring such flavor and style that is sure to have heads turning. As I write this post I am in the process of designing one of the gardens at our international airport and one of the materials that we are using is gravel which is really bringing a facelift to that area.

What I love about these gardens is the low maintenance cost which spells a $avings and for us who work the soil, we know that seeking to maintain a garden can be pretty costly and laborious.

The benefits of a gravel garden

Here are a few reasons why gravel is cost-effective.

Advantages of using gravel

  •  Designing your garden in such a way can help to cut down on the use of grass and plant material which can be costly and laborious to maintain
  • Gravel will help to keep weeds down
  • Can hold up well under climate conditions
  • Saves Water
  • Gravel is easy to maintain just rake to keep it level
  • Gravel is affordable
  • Will beautify
  • Gravel can last for years
  • Gravel comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors
  • I don’t know about you but the sound of gravel, when stepped on or rolled on by a vehicle, makes a pleasant sound

Disadvantage of gravels

  • Installation may sometimes be a challenge
  • In snow conditions, it’s hard to clear away

Types of gravel

  • Jersey shore gravel
  • White marble chips
  • Stone Dust
  • River Rock
  • Quarry process gravel
  • Pea Gravel
  • Marble Chips
  • Crushed Stone
  • Item#4
  • Base Gravel #3
  • Washed clean stone

How to Create a Gravel Garden

Although any plant material and soil type can be used when constructing a gravel garden it’s best to locate an area that gets lots of sunlight where the soil is well-drained or somewhat sandy. The gravel garden that I am working on has these conditions and the plants that were installed in this area are doing really well.

Before installing your garden ensure that the entire area that is to be used is free of weeds and other debris, once that its done level the area, what you don’t want is after you have laid your gravel there are areas that are so uneven that it becomes an eyesore. Now in the case of aesthetics, this is the exception because the intention may be to shape the ground in such a way that it has a few high spots to create interest just be careful however that with this style of shaping the ground it flows with the rest of the landscape adding appeal where water will also flow freely and not settle.

Once this is done the next step is the use of landscape fabric, what this fabric will do is hinder weeds from emerging as it lays on the soil’s surface. This fabric is pores and will allow excess water to drain through. A mistake that many gardeners make is placing the gravel without the fabric which is a recipe for weeds growing wild and what makes matters worse is trying to weed a gravel area that is overrun by weeds. This landscape fabric will make your job a lot easier.

How it’s done

When installing plants with the intent of using gravel along with landscape fabric this can be done in two ways either installing the plants first and placing the fabric around your plants by cutting holes in the fabric or by placing the landscape fabric down on the soil surface pining the ends down with stones, clips or large nails then cutting holes in the fabric large enough depending on the size of the root ball digging the soil out at a depth where your plants will sit comfortably installing plants and returning the soil.

This may be a bit tedious but in the long run, it will pay off in big ways. Once the fabric is down and your plants are installed it’s a matter of now laying your gravel. If you need help depending on the size of the area that is to be overlaid with gravel then, by all means, do so.

Tools for the job

1. Good strong pair of garden gloves.

2. Strong sturdy boots.

3. A wheelbarrow.

4. A  hard rake or two.

5. A grass rake or two.

6. A back brace.

7. A Flat or square mouth and a spade shovel.

If the area is wide enough for a truck with a dumper to dump gravel in a few piles where they are to be installed then this is good, it is all a matter of spreading the gravel with the hard rake. If the area is tight the use of a wheelbarrow comes into play, with the teeth of the hard rake begin to spread the gravel, and with the back of the hard rake, you will level the gravel.

Move the hard rake up and down and sided to side until you get the desired results, the grass rake can be used to do any light raking if needed because after you have leveled the gravel a grass rake will not cause disturbances.

And Existence Garden

You may already have a garden but may want to give it some sprucing up by adding gravel well it is all a matter of following the steps above. With an existing garden half of your work has already done. Once you know where you want the gravel to go either remove plant material and relocate them or work around them according to the direction that we discussed earlier.

Garden Plants

Some garden plants that look great in a gravel garden.

A Garvel Garden-how-to-create-a-gravel-garden
A Gravel Garden

1. Agaves.

2. Cactus.

3. Ornamental Grasses.

4. Cytisus.

5. Juniper.

6. Rosemary.

7. Hypericum.

8. Lavender.

9. Bergenia.

10. Poppy.

11. Euphorbia.

12. Achillea.

13. Algerian Iris.

14. Crepis incana.

15. Cosmos.

Additional Information

With an existing garden do as followed.

  • This is a good time to prune
  • Keep a lookout for plants that may be insect-infested and treat as needed
  • Look for any off-color, inspect to see if that off-color is linked to a disease or to other environmental factors
  • Get rid of weeds
  • Water plants that are water-stressed

The final word

Installing a gravel garden or turning your existing garden into a gravel garden can be so exciting as you see the change this garden type brings, I have work on many garden projects of this type which really high lighted those areas so go for it, give it a try and see why these garden types are making waves, let’s get started and enjoy the flavors this garden type brings.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

12 thoughts on “How to Create a Gravel Garden”

  1. Hi, this is a wonderful idea. I have often wondered if a gravel garden might work better in my backyard and not be so labour intensive. I am hoping that more of my plants might survive too. The mat to prevent weeds is a great idea, as I can imagine it would be horrible to have it all spoilt by weeds coming up.

    I enjoyed the two options you gave on how to install. Putting the plants in first or after and keeping it level with no dips.

    Terrific list of plants and obviously ones that like the heat generated by having gravel around them.


    • Hello, Lily gravel gardening is so unique and pretty amazing. these garden types bring a flavor of their own that will give that WOW. So happy that I could help and wishing you the best of success. Please let me know how your garden project goes. All the best to you.

  2. Ive been considering switching over to creating a gravel garden since some days back. Though it is not an easy thing to try out but then, I wanted to be sure of this and that is the reason I have started all these research too. Thanks for providing the needed details here. I fancy it and I will love to try it out

  3. Hi Norman, after reading this article I can see a lot of people going out and buying bags of gravel for their gardens so they never have to weed again!  I’m a big fan of gravel gardens used as feature gardens – my favourite was a garden that used rock-like gravel placed over several dirt mounds to recreate a mountain setting for growing plants normally found only in the nearby mountain ranges.  Really cool.

    The lists of plants and gravel types is very comprehensive.  Can you use any type of gravel with any of the plants or would you recommend a particular gravel size and shape depending on the plant and climate?

    • Yeah, these gardens are really amazing. The chose of gravels depends on your preference so happy gardening and please do let me know how it goes.

  4. Hi, Norman.
    Thanks for sharing the information on how to create a gravel garden. You have given very practical advice with full of useful tips. I liked the list of tools for the job as most of the items needs to be arranged. This has been a new idea for me and I intend to use these tips in the front of my house with a little pathway to the corner fountain.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    • Hello so happy to help, these gardens are pretty amazing and bring with it its uniqueness. please let me know how it goes and all the best to you.

  5. Hello Norman. Thank you for sharing this guide on how to create a gravel garden. It’s very nice to see that there are many styles and designs we can choose from to make outstanding gardens and in this case a gravel garden. The advantages are very pleasing; I love especially the fact that it will help to keep weed down because for me it’s not fun clearing them. The picture of gravel garden you shared is really beautiful.

    I am considering a gravel garden and would definitely implement it when the time comes.

    Merry Christmas.

  6. Hello Norman, Thank you writing Simple Steps to Gravel Gardening. I enjoy your article while reading and learn a lot from it. I recently setup my garden it look good but not awesome . Now I found many useful tips from your article they will help me to update my garden to gravel garden. Thanks for sharing such wonderful ideas.


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