Gravel for Gravel Gardens

By Cathryn Robson on 28/01/16 in: For The Garden

There are many surfaces to choose from for your garden area – natural stone paving, imprinted concrete, granite sets, bricks, decking or lawn.  Gravelcan be one of the more favourable options. The advantage is it can be planted, it provides a perfect environment for drought-tolerant plants, and is a great for a low maintenance and relatively cheap garden with style.

Your gravel garden - A sunny position is best for drought-tolerant plants.  A gravel garden naturally lends itself to Mediterranean-style drought-tolerant planting so things like lavender, euphorbias, Cistus, Santolina and Phlomis are ideal and provide plenty of nectar and pollen for visiting insects.

Plant Ornamental Grasses to take over as summer colour begins to fade.

Preparation - Mark out the shape of the area you want to gravel including areas for planting, giving the plants room to spread about. An informal, fluid shape is most suitable for this style.

Gravel garden plants thrive in unimproved sandy soil with relatively low fertility. If your soil is clay based, then incorporation of plenty of organic matter into the soil may help to improve it a little.

If you do not require plants to self-seed, lay a weed membraneover the soil before planting and cut an X just large enough to insert each plant into its designated area.

If you can’t commit to a whole area of gravel garden, you can make mini gravel gardens by lifting a patio slab or two and treating the gaps in the same way as outlined above.

Gravel - Once planted the bed can be covered with approximately 50mm in depth of gravel.  You have the option to match the colour to other paved areas in the garden, or use striking contrasting colours to make a statement or brighten up darker corners.  Above the 20mm Moonstone Gravel contrasts well against the dark grey driveway.

Local gravels are usually the cheapest option.

Different-sized gravel is available:  ranging from finer grades of around 6mm to the chunkier types which are around 20mm. The medium-grade gravels, particularly if angular in shape, are easier to walk on than rounded pea shingle or larger pebbles or cobbles.

A 25kg bag of gravel will cover 0.25m2 to a depth of 50mm. Gravel can also be bought in bulk, delivered by truck, usually in bags holding 850kg, this amount should cover approximately 10m2 at a depth of around 50mm.

Use our online calculator to work out how much gravel you will need for your gravel garden - calculator

Onwards and upwards

Keep the plants watered well until established.
Top up the gravel when necessary.
Some weeding will be required. After time, the plants are generally large enough to suppress weeds.

Removal of surplus self-seeded ornamentals may be required.