Garden Gravel

A Quick Guide to Garden Gravel

            A garden is often the pride and joy of its owner and one method for adding a most attractive feature to a garden is in the use of garden gravel.  While its use undoubtedly brings a unique beauty and benefit to the garden, many people never even consider making gravel part of their landscape.

            Traditional gardens can be of various types.  Flower gardens, vegetable gardens, water gardens, rock gardens; the list can go on and on.  Fact is, just about any interest can be represented in a garden of sorts.  One fact that all gardens have in common is that any of them can be enhanced by the use of gravel in the garden.

            Gravel is, in quite simple terms, rocks.  But not just any type of rocks.  In order to be classified as gravel, rock must measure more than 2 millimeters but less than 64 millimeters, or 2 ½ inches.  It is formed over periods of time due to the effects of weathering and erosion on larger sedimentary rocks and boulders.  Gravel can be either extracted from the ground by quarrying, or can be created by forcibly crushing large rock.

            Any type of gravel can be used in landscaping.  Several popular types are commonly used, including pea stone, colored stone, marble and Terrazzo chips among others.  The deciding factor of which gravel type to use is the particular type of application for which it will be used.  For instance, will the use of gravel be merely functional in areas outside of visual view, or is its purpose to enhance a garden or landscape?  Functional gravel is called utility gravel, while decorative gravel is called, quite descriptively, decorative.  Functional gravel is generally nondescript and of varying sizes.  Descriptive gravel, on the other hand, can be very attractive and actually become a focal point of the area in which it is placed.  White marble chips, for example, can add brightness and beauty to a shaded corner area that previously went unnoticed, and show off vibrant colors of the flowers and shrubs planted there.  Stones with a pink or blue hue can create a lovely, warm and inviting appearance to a walkway and sitting area within a landscape.

            Surfacing walkways, division areas and patios are the most popular methods of using gravel.  However, many people will utilize gravel in much the same way as mulch is used in a garden bed; providing a colorful and clean base surface to the planting areas.  While the garden gravel serves to brighten the spot, it is also beneficial in holding back the growth of weeds.

            There are many reasons that gardens choose to incorporate some type of garden gravel in their plots, and why others should give strong consideration to its use.   The rocks provide a low maintenance area; effectively discouraging growth of weeds and also providing a protective barrier from the hot summer sun to the plant’s delicate root system.  The gravel keeps the soil cooler while also holding in needed moisture.  Gravel types are widely attractive; available in several sizes, shapes and colors to complement any garden area.  The material is very easy to place, as well; simply scatter the gravel in a moderate layer along the surface.  It will not blow away, decompose or lose its appearance.  Long lasting and completely natural, using gravel is also an environmentally friendly garden substance.

            With a wide availability of this beneficial, attractive and environmentally friendly material, many gardeners across the country are finding that using garden gravel is the perfect solution to a wide variety of their gardening and landscape issues, no matter which type of garden they have.