Garden Advice

Pros and Cons of Pea Gravel Patios

So, you have decided to redecorate your garden and create an attractive patio on your property. You probably have seen those cosy areas with small stones around the fireplace and wooden furniture around it. So, let us enlighten you on that matter and tell you more about those little stones that are called “pea gravel”. 

Table of Contents:

So, if you are:

  • Wondering what pea gravel is;
  • Want to know its benefits and disadvantages.

Then this post is for you!

What is pea gravel?

Pea gravel is the type of gravel that is quite popular among homeowners and an excellent alternative to decking too. The smooth texture and the size of the gravel –  that of a pea – create a perfect covering for driveways and paths. 

The range of natural-looking colours allows you to create a cosy and casual space in your garden. Excellent addition to gardens in the Mediterranean and Tuscan styles. You can find the stones in various sizes from 8 to 16 mm.

Pros of installing a pea gravel patio 

Cheap and available 

Pea gravel is widely available and can be found in almost every hardware store. And the best thing is that you don’t need to buy tons of the material or prepare beforehand to give your patio the desired look. Simply work your soil and remove any weeds before the installation. 

For a better result, you can spread crushed stones on your base and then cover the area with pea gravel.

Perfect in combination with other landscaping materials

When it comes to design combinations, pea gravel is quite versatile. The natural colour palette gives you a variety of option for combinations with any gravel-like materials, stones, and wood. When designing your patio with pea gravel remember – there are no strict rules!

Helps to prevent weeds from growing

If you don’t want to use any chemicals on your yard, a thick gravel layer can help you with the weeds reduction. Any solid material that is at least 10 cm thick naturally prevents weed plants from growing. If the plants in your area are quite persistent, you might secure the beauty of your patio by putting a landscaping cloth between the base and gravel. 

No flooding issues

If you have a gravelled structure, unwanted water accumulation is not the case. Water drains much quicker through gravel rather than through soil. You can as well stabilise the surface by putting a layer of sand or crushed rock underneath the pea gravel.  

Compacts the surface over time 

Over time the heavy objects that you place on your gravelled area press it down, compacting and creating a strong stable surface. This surface can be further used for pathways or, with some improvements, be turned to a parking spot. 

Not hard to walk on  

Because of its smooth texture, the pea gravel is not hard to walk on. Compared to the other types of gravel, this one doesn’t have sharp edges and you might not be worried about your kids running on a sharp rock. The biggest thing that you can be irritated with is tiny rocks getting into your shoes or sandals.

Cons of installing a pea gravel patio

Tends to “travel”

Pea gravel can be displaced very easily. Don’t be surprised if you find it on the other side of the garden, in garden furniture, or even in your house. Over time you might need to add more gravel to restore what you have lost. One of the solutions that can prevent it from shifting is stabilizing the base with crushed rocks. 

Creating a solid edge around the gravelled area as well can help you keep the gravel on the place. To complement the design of your patio, you can choose from various edging materials like bigger stones, bricks or ornamental metal fencing. 

Furniture sinks into the surface

Furniture can add to the aesthetics of your garden, however, if you place it on the pea gravel, you might soon start noticing that practically it is not convenient. The legs of chairs and tables shift down to the gravelled surface, making the furniture uneven. Moreover, over time your furniture might get damaged from the constant contact with the solid material. If you still want to install furniture, you might give your preference to outdoor lounge chairs like Adirondack-style ones.

Snow and gravel are not friends

The maintenance of the pea gravel is relatively easy unless you are dealing with snow. If you don’t know how to take proper care of the gravelled patio, there is a high chance of you removing gravel together with the snow. 

The trick is in clearing your patio up in layers. Take a regular shovel and remove the majority of the snow. When you start seeing that there is not more than 2-3 cm of snow left, you can leave it as it is. If you want the patio to be completely snowless, sprinkle some salt on top. Salt melts the snow and prevents it from forming ice. 

Another tool that you can use is a rake, however, you risk to lose some gravel over the clearing process. 

Weed can eventually appear again

Even if you put a thick layer of gravel and spread the landscaping fabric underneath, there is a chance for the weeds to grow. The fabric prevents roots from growing from the soil. However, if there are any organic materials in your gravel mix, undesired seeds can start developing roots in the gravel itself. You can easily pull them out, however, it adds up to unwanted chores. 

Gravel polishes itself overtime

Over time, you can notice that your gravel behaves like a pile of marbles. That happens, because of the tendency of the rocks to polish and round themselves. As a solution, you can use a concrete exposed aggregate to create stability and have a solid surface. 

Sinks into the soil

Unlike other rocks, pea gravel doesn’t crack or break over time, however, it tends to sink into the soil. If you don’t lose a majority of the product due to its travelling ability, you might find it sticking into your soil. This disadvantage can cost you major headaches with replenishing the surface every year or so. 

Need help with your patio design?

Fantastic Services is here for you. Are you dreaming of an oasis in your backyard but don’t know how to realise it? You can always trust it to the Fantastic landscaping professionals! They will come up with the best possible design for your likings and make sure that you are happy with the final results. Schedule your landscaping survey, today!

Looking for professional patio design help?

Get in touch with our trustworthy landscapers today.

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  • Pea gravel is quite versatile when it comes to design solutions;
  • The installation is relatively cheap and easy, however, yearly maintenance requires additional costs;
  • Maintenance in the winter requires additional effort;
  • Needs to be restored approximately every four years.

Image source: Shutterstock / Paul Maguire

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