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several types of gravel

Gravel Landscaping: The Ultimate Low-Maintenance Yard Guide

several types of gravelWhen it comes to creating an attractive and low-maintenance yard, landscaping with gravel is an excellent solution. Gravel offers versatility, durability, permeability, and affordability, making it a popular choice for outdoor home improvement projects. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of gravel and how they can be used in various landscaping projects. From walkways and patios to garden beds and drainage solutions, gravel can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your yard while reducing the need for constant maintenance.

Benefits of Landscaping with Gravel

Landscaping with gravel offers several benefits that make it an appealing option for homeowners. Here are some key advantages of using gravel in your yard:

  1. Versatility: Gravel comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to choose the perfect type to suit your design preferences and landscaping needs.
  2. Durability: Gravel is a durable material that can withstand heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for walkways, patios, and driveways.
  3. Permeability: Gravel is a permeable material, which means that it allows water to drain through it. This makes it an excellent choice for areas that experience heavy rainfall, as it helps prevent water pooling and reduces the risk of erosion.
  4. Affordability: Compared to other hardscaping materials like brick or stone, gravel is a more cost-effective option. It is readily available and can be purchased in bulk, making it a budget-friendly choice for landscaping projects.

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of landscaping with gravel, let’s explore the different types of gravel and how they can be used in your yard.

Popular Types of Gravel for Landscaping

Gravel comes in various types, each with its own unique characteristics and uses. Here are some of the most popular types of gravel for landscaping:

River Jack

River jack is a type of river rock that features smooth, tumbled stones in a range of earth tones. The stones vary in size, from larger tumbled stones to small pebble pieces. While river jack is aesthetically pleasing, it may not be the most stable material for high foot-traffic areas due to its mixed sizes and rounded finish.

Mexican Beach Pebble

Mexican beach pebble is a type of gravel that consists of smooth, naturally tumbled stones. It is available in a variety of sizes and colors, making it a versatile option for various landscaping projects. Mexican beach pebble is often used as low-traffic ground cover or ornamental accents due to its rounded stones and unstable nature for pathways or patios.

Rip Rap

Rip rap is a type of gravel composed of large, angular stones. It is commonly used for erosion control and as a protective material for retaining walls. Rip rap is particularly popular in coastal areas due to its ability to withstand the elements and allow water to flow freely. However, its rough and irregular texture makes it unsuitable for areas with foot traffic.

3/4-1.5″ Construction Gravel

Construction gravel, as the name suggests, is commonly used in construction applications. It has an irregular, crushed finish that provides excellent structure for paths, patios, and parking areas. Construction gravel can also serve as a stable base with good drainage for concrete, pavers, and flagstone. The color of construction gravel may vary depending on the stones used.

Pea Gravel

Pea gravel consists of small, rounded rocks that are approximately the size of a pea or bean. It is a popular choice for walkways, dog runs, patios, and playgrounds due to its comfortable underfoot feel and minimal opportunity for weed growth. Pea gravel is available in a variety of colors, making it suitable for a wide range of landscaping projects.

Decomposed Granite

Decomposed granite, also known as DG, is a finely crushed rock that offers versatility and stability. It is an ideal material for patios, driveways, paths, mulch, and more. Decomposed granite is softer underfoot compared to gravel but tends to stick to feet and can track indoors. Some varieties of decomposed granite include stabilizing agents to help it stay in place.

Lava Rock

Lava rock is a type of gravel made from volcanic molten discharge. It is available in red and black colors and has a rough and uneven texture. Lava rock is not suitable for walkways or patios due to its rough surface, but it can be used as decorative mulch or for drainage purposes. The porous nature of lava rock allows for good drainage, but large-scale drainage projects using lava rock can be costly.


Flagstone is a category of stone that includes sandstone, slate, bluestone, limestone, or quartzite. It is characterized by its flat, slab-like shape, making it ideal for walkways and patios. Flagstone can be laid down in a way that creates a smooth and level surface with minimal variations in height between the stones. It is typically sold by the pallet and can add a natural and rustic look to your yard.


Fieldstone refers to large, round rocks that are found during excavating or farming. They can be made of various types of stones and are versatile in their use. Fieldstones can be used as retaining walls, lining walkways, stone wall fences, seating around a bonfire, or stepping stones in a walkway. Dry stacking without mortar is possible, but mortar may be required for stability.


Boulders are large rocks that are too heavy for one person to lift alone. They can be used to create retaining walls, rustic seating arrangements, or tiered yards with separate planting areas. Boulders add texture and depth to garden beds and provide a unique visual element. It is important to have a design plan in mind when using boulders, as they are difficult to move once in place.

Now that we have explored the different types of gravel for landscaping, let’s discuss how to use them in various landscaping projects.

Creative Uses of Gravel in Landscaping

Gravel is a versatile material that can be used in a wide range of landscaping projects. Here are some creative ways to incorporate gravel into your yard:


Walkways are an essential part of any landscape design. Gravel paths are a simple and cost-effective option for DIY enthusiasts. By installing a good border at the edge of the walkway, you can prevent the gravel from spreading onto your lawn. Gravel walkways provide a natural and rustic look, and they can be easily customized to fit the overall design of your yard.


Gravel patios offer a unique and budget-friendly alternative to traditional poured concrete or stone patios. With the right edging and base preparation, gravel patios can be stable and durable. They provide excellent drainage and can be easily maintained by raking and leveling the gravel as needed. Gravel patios are particularly well-suited for fire pit areas, creating a cozy and inviting outdoor space.


Gravel driveways are a popular choice for homeowners looking for an affordable and low-maintenance option. Gravel is a sturdy material that can withstand regular vehicle traffic and harsh weather conditions. It is easy to top up the driveway with a fresh layer of gravel if needed. Proper installation and regular maintenance, such as grading and compacting, will ensure a smooth and functional driveway.

Garden Beds

Gravel can be used as an attractive and functional ground cover for garden beds. It helps retain moisture in the soil, reduces weed growth, and adds visual interest to the overall landscape. By placing stones around the base of trees, ornamental plants, or hardy garden vegetables, you can create a beautiful and low-maintenance garden bed. Stone mulch does not break down over time, providing long-lasting benefits.

Drainage Solutions

Gravel is an excellent material for creating effective drainage solutions in your yard. If you have areas that tend to pool water after rainfall, replacing impermeable ground cover with a gravel path or mulch can help redirect water and promote groundwater recharge. Gravel allows water to infiltrate the soil quickly, preventing erosion and waterlogging. By strategically placing gravel in areas prone to water accumulation, you can improve the overall drainage of your yard.

Landscaping with gravel offers a multitude of benefits, from low maintenance to aesthetic appeal. With a wide variety of gravel types available, you can choose the perfect material to suit your landscaping needs. Whether you’re creating walkways, patios, driveways, or garden beds, gravel provides a durable and cost-effective solution. By incorporating gravel into your landscaping design, you can enhance the beauty of your yard while reducing the time and effort required for maintenance.

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