Gravel Laying Guide

This weeks blog post will focus around gravel and how to lay it. Gravel may sound like a simple thing but there is more to it than meets the eye!

The first things you have to decide about are size colour and shape.

  • It is mainly agreed that the optimum size of the gravel needed  for laying decorative aggregates on driveways is 20mm. Many people do use 10mm gravel, but it tends to get stuck in car tyre treads and scatters about a bit, so it costs a bit more in maintenance and upkeep. Any bigger than 20mm like a highland pebble or Scottish Cobble will make it difficult to walk over and won’t do the car suspension any favours! Paths can be 10mm or 20mm anything larger will again be difficult to walk on and for borders and edges it really is just a matter of taste, but the larger Cobbles and Pebbles really do stand out here.
  • Anything goes really in terms of colour! Do you want to blend in with natural features? If so choose a nice Green Slate or Yorkshire Cream,  or even the subtle tones of  golden gravel and flint will blend into a natural environment. For the contemporary lovers, the nicely shaped Oyster Pearl or the round and smooth Highland Pebbles could be your thing, or maybe you support Liverpool or Sunderland and you’ve talked the wife into a whole front garden of Red Chippings! Like any other landscaping project, just take some time to think about what look you are hoping to achieve, it will be worth it with the end result.
  • Back in the days before I worked in the aggregates industry I never  thought about where gravel came from, it’s not really the type of thing of that most people tend to care about, but this is how the shape of the gravel is determined. Some decorative gravels like oyster pearl are washed up from the sea bed, giving it that nice smooth, soft to the touch look. Other granite based aggregates like red chippings are made from crushing 1 million year old boulders with huge machines.  My point is, read the descriptions and decide what look you want to achieve, whether it is round and smooth, hard and rough or sleek and sharp like the natural Welsh slate.

How much Gravel do I need?

Well I could go into a carefully worked out calculation based on length x wide x depth, but it’s probably a lot easier to point out that most decorative gravel are  laid at 50mm (that’s 2 inch to the old school gardeners amongst us) and to redirect you to our easy to use gravel calculator.

Preparation

As is true about most construction projects, this is where the game is usually won or lost.  Careful planning and preparation will turn this into a relatively quick and easy operation.

  • Get the gloves and the willies on and pull up any old weeds and paving slabs that are in your way. You can go straight over the old paving if you like, but you know the old adage, If a jobs worth doing, its……………….!
  • Lay a base of crusher run (available from our building section) down first and fill in any holes or dips in the landscape. Of course, you maybe have some old rubble lying about in the garden, so you may want to use that before spending any money, but the good thing about crusher run is that it allows for good drainage in boggy or wet areas. The last thing you want is muddy, mucky gravel. Now get the rake and shovel out and give it a good old levelling and patting down, better still use a garden roller or whacker plate.
  • Time to put down the landscape fabric. Now lots of people don’t bother doing this and I can’t understand why they don’t. Quite simply, it stops the weeds from getting through.  You may wonder why the gravel doesn’t stop them, but as any gardener will tell you, weeds are very crafty things, if they see light they will aim for it and nothing will stop them over time. That’s where landscape fabric or weed membrane as it’s also known comes in. Its stops light getting in whilst allowing for drainage, perfect for laying decorative gravel on!

Laying the Gravel

  • If you’ve done your prep work this should be the easy bit. Simply lay your gravel at a nice even depth of around 50mm. Now if you’re moving your gravel from the front of the house to the back, its ruddy hard work! Maybe it’s a good time to enlist the kids or the grand kids into a bit of family bonding, but the great thing about laying decorative gravel is that it’s instant. No waiting for it grow, no mess or noisy builders, just instant results which will transform your garden into a colourful, natural or contemporary oasis of your taste.

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