How to lay gravel

Gravel can be a quick way to transform a patch of your garden, but it needs to be laid properly. Here are our tips on how to lay garden gravel, and getting the job right. You might also like to read our guide to Low maintenance gardening and Garden design:surfaces.

How to lay gravel

Laying gravel can add so much to a garden

Top tips for laying gravel

  • Before you begin, mark out the area you want to fill using pegs and lines.
  • Keep the edge of the area high to stop the gravel spilling out.
  • Use something flexible, like a piece of rope, to mark out curved edges.

Laying gravel in the garden is a cheap way to transform an outdoor space and it provides instant results. However, it can end up all over the place, is hard to keep clean of fallen leaves, and can end up with weeds growing through and in it. Careful preparation is therefore essential to getting it right in your garden.

Consider the size of gravel
Think about what the proposed area is to be used for, and choose the gravel size accordingly. Really small gravel tends to be too fine for areas that will have to cope with lots of foot traffic, as it will spread too easily. However, larger gravel pieces can be uncomfortable underfoot. See our garden design: laying out your space guide if you need a bit more advice before getting started.

Gravel for a path or seated area
There are a couple of ways of going about preparing an area for gravel. If the space is to be used as a seating area or pathway, it is a good idea to dig down about 10cm and lay a flat compacted layer of hardcore - then lay 3-4 inches of gravel on top. This is important to avoid the gravel sinking or becoming unstable underfoot when wet.

Gravel for decorative use
If the area is to be mainly decorative, then you can simply dig away at the surface, leaving it flat, and lay a weed suppressing membrane. Peg the membrane down and chuck the gravel on top. You can plant through the membrane by first cutting through it with a knife.

Contain the gravel
Finally, you will need to decide how to keep the gravel in around the edges. Timber edging is quick, easy and cheap to install, but can be difficult if you want to have curved edges around your gravelled area. Bricks and larger cobbles offer a more permanent alternative and can be set in concrete. The end result is also far more appealing visually.

Before you begin, mark out the area you want to fill using pegs and lines and make sure you keep your edging high, to stop the gravel spilling out.

Is gravel not the right choice for your garden? See our garden surface guide for more options.