Landscaping, patios, walkways! There are many ways to make your yard and property more inviting. One material that can be used in many ways and do the trick is pea gravel. But not many people know everything there is to know about this material.
Pea gravel is a blessing to landscapers everywhere for being useful, versatile, and affordable. It also helps that pea gravel is appealing, making it a great choice for those who want to create a backyard dream.
What Is Pea Gravel?
Pea gravel is a decorative small rock that is poured to fill holes and create landscaping dreams. They are similar to the rocks uses to create a french drain, the difference being the size of the rocks or gravel.
The shape of the pea gravel is unique. Pea gravel has a smooth surface with each rock being made from river rocks, smoothed into tiny pebbles. The pieces don’t fit together like other rocks either, instead needing something thinner to bind it.
Pea gravel is beloved because it is pleasant to walk on and can be used alone or paired with other materials. It is very versatile and affordable as well. But we’ll talk more about these aspects later on.
Pea Gravel Patio
Pea gravel patios are quite popular. To begin building one, you need to find a flat location as pea gravel tends to fall into cracks and isn’t stable on hilly locations that aren’t level. So find a good place to build your patio.
Also, pea gravel isn’t great for draining because the small pieces will wash away and create a mess. So choose a spot that has a good draining system or build your own drain before building the patio.
Step 1: Dig The Area Out
After you find your spot, you will need to dig out the area to about four inches deep. Try to get rid of any large rocks or roots in the way and keep the area as level as possible to prevent any problems or dangers later on.
Step 2: Create A Border
Creating a border is necessary if you want a stable patio. You can use edging stones or bricks to create a solid border. This way the pea gravel won’t shift whenever you walk on it, which could be dangerous.
Step 3: Create A Base Layer
Now you will need to create a base layer to add extra stability. To do so, use crushed rock or another type of material used for base layers to create a thin layer a couple of inches thick, but no more than two and a half inches thick.
Step 4: Add A Weed Barrier
This is a simple step that involves adding a weed barrier over the base layer. This fabric will prevent weed growth and add a more stable base layer for the pea gravel to lay on. Make sure you leave plenty of room for gravel.
Step 5: Add The Pea Gravel
Now it’s time to get to the fun part. Add the pea gravel to about two to two and a half inches thick all the way around the patio. This will be the top layer. If you want you can add pavers for walkways along the patio as well.
How Much Gravel Do You Need?
It’s very easy to figure how much gravel you need. You simply find the area of the patio, then multiply it by 2.5. Convert to inches while calculating then back again to get both measurements.
For example. If the patio is 12×14, you convert that to inches which would be 144×168. So multiply that and get 24192. Then times that by 2.5 and you get 60480. So you have 60480 cubic inches or 35 cubic feet.
Pea Gravel Landscaping
Pea gravel is perfect for your landscaping needs. They are just one of the types of landscaping rocks you can use for your yard. It can be used for infill, stop weed growth, playground, pipe bedding, and more.
Here are a few basic ways to use pea gravel for landscaping.
- Keeping potted plants stable
- Top layers for playgrounds
- Walkways paired with various other stones
- Separating garden beds
- Stand-out terraces
- Top layers for retaining walls
- Safe and tidy dog runs
- Base for a fire pit
Pea Gravel Driveway
One of the single most popular ways to use pea gravel is in a driveway. Pea gravel can be compact and withstand a lot of pressure so it is ideal for driveways of all types. It is even one of the most common types of rock used for driveways.
Step 1: Mark Your Area
Measuring the area to calculate how much materials you need is important. The difference is that you will need to multiply the total by 4 instead of 2.5 because the pea gravel will be four inches thick instead of 2.5.
Step 2: Dig The Area Out
Now it’s time to dig out the entire area. This time, you want it to be about a foot deep in total. This is very difficult to do without help or machinery, so renting some or hiring a professional is highly preferable to taking a shovel to it.
Adding a border is preferable, but since the ditch is quite deep, it isn’t necessary. However, it will look nicer and add more stability, so if you have the time and money, then add a good border for your driveway.
Step 3: Lay Base Layer
You will want to add about eight inches or so of crushed stone or sturdier rock for your base layer. Level it out and make sure it is sturdy. Add a layer of landscaping fabric or two on top and bottom of this base layer.
Step 4: Add Pea Gravel
Finally, add the pea gravel to the crushed stone layer. You want the pea gravel to be about four inches thick so that it will always be the only thing that you see. Level this out smoothly and test it by walking before driving on it.
Pea Gravel Cost
Pea gravel can be purchased by the ton, by the cubic yard, or by the bag. Since buying by the bag is the easiest and most expensive way to purchase pea gravel, we’re going to figure costs that way so there will be no disappointing surprises later on.
Base Price: $5 per 0.5-cubic-foot
This is the formula we will use. Most pea gravel bags come with enough to cover half a cubic foot. Given this estimate, you can assume that the 12×14 patio we talked about earlier will cost under $200 for the pea gravel alone.
If you want colorful pea gravel or a similar type of gravel that is more extravagant, expect to pay anywhere from twice as much to ten times as much. This is the reason pea gravel is so popular. It works, and it’s affordable!
Pea Gravel Pros And Cons
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Every building and landscaping material has its pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of pea gravel!
Pea Gravel Pros
- Affordable – pea gravel is one of the most affordable types of gravel or landscaping rocks available. Like previously mentioned, you can get it for about $5 a bag or for $10 per cubic foot.
- Versatile – you can use pea gravel for almost any landscaping needs, though patios and driveways are the most popular way to use them.
- Easy to install – although there are a few steps you need to take, you don’t need any special machinery to install a simple pea gravel project.
- Easy maintenance – it’s easy to take care of pea gravel. You just set it and leave it for years and it doesn’t need any work. The same can’t be said for all types of rocks.
- Comfortable – because of the smooth surface, it’s relatively comfortable to walk on be gravel. Or at least as comfortable as any gravel can be. This makes it great for playgrounds.
- Natural weed barrier – you may want to add a weed barrier for extra protection, pea gravel makes a pretty great weed barrier on its own, so you can leave out the barrier if you want to.
- Easy to find – you won’t leave any hardware or garden store without pea gravel if you’re looking for it. While some types of gravel are rare, pea gravel can be found almost anywhere.
Pea Gravel Cons
- Usually needs border – pea gravel needs some sort of edger to prevent it from falling. You can just lay it out alone or it will sink into the sides or flow out and create a mess.
- Needs foundation – pea gravel needs a good foundation. So you have to add in the costs of the other rocks or filler that you buy as well when you calculate costs.
- Sinking furniture – you can’t just put a chair on pea gravel and expect it to stay still. It will begin sinking into the gravel. This isn’t safe and can leave your area looking less than great.
- Doesn’t last forever – pea gravel needs replaced about once every five years or so. It breaks down until it’s a shell of what it used to be. Because of the price, this usually isn’t a problem though.
Is Pea Gravel For You?
Probably! Due to its price and versatility, most people can find a use for pea gravel if they are into landscaping. It is a staple for anyone who spends much time landscaping their own yard, so keeping a bag on hand for a small project is a great idea!