How to choose gravel and paving slabs
Deciding on the materials you will use in your garden shouldn’t be a decision that is rushed because the materials you choose will make the most impact on the overall look, layout and cost of your design.
Garden designer Alice Bowe gives her tips for those who are considering using paving slabs and gravel within their garden design.
The materials you decide to use in your garden should be practical. You want to make sure you are creating stable surfaces that are suitable for creating paths throughout the garden or level seating areas.
The materials should also be sympathetic to your existing space. They should complement your house and the surrounding landscape rather than stick out like a sore thumb.
Cottage garden: Choose a mix of irregular slabs that lock together like a jigsaw as they will give your garden an instant sense of history. These slabs often come in a natural stone like limestone or sandstone. The advantage of using natural stone is that it looks better with age. However, it will come in a range of thicknesses meaning each stone will have to be levelled individually, escalating your labour costs. You could opt for a reconstituted stone that is made from gravel and bound with cement. They best quality stones are very convincing but cost the same as natural stone. However, they are reliably non-slip and thinner, so lighter and easier to lay.
Contemporary garden: Choose sawn edge slabs for a crisp, clean and clinical look. Opt for paving slabs of the same size and lay them in a grid or a staggered grid for a contemporary finish. For added texture, consider a hammered limestone slab.
Heritage garden: Look for reclaimed materials as nothing gives a garden a sense of history like antique items. Sites such as FreeCycle are great ways to pick up old flags, stone edging and even statues and gardenalia. If your garden is much larger, you are best heading to your local reclamation yard. Remember to be quick and decisive as the good items won’t hang around for long.
Gravel has a bad name thanks to pea gravel that can’t lock together and gets spread everywhere.
Angular gravel (less than 10mm in size), locks together, is inexpensive and can be poured into any shape. If you buy the gravel mix which includes fine particles it will bind and lock together to form a compact and sturdy surface. This makes it ideal for seating areas and pathways.