How to Lay a Gravel Path


Gravel paths are easy to lay and provide an attractive finish for both formal and informal gardens. They are excellent for creating curved, fluid paths and are relatively cheap to install. However, care must be taken that the gravel stays within the path boundary; this may be achieved by using timber, brick or concrete edgings and by making sure that it is well bedded in. Bear in mind that gravel can be noisy and uncomfortable to walk on, and will make pushing a wheelbarrow, pushchair or wheelchair hard work.

Most path and driveway gravels come in sizes ranging from 6-20 mm; anything smaller will be too easily disturbed, whilst anything larger becomes difficult to walk on. In general, use 6-10 mm for pathways and 10-20 mm for drives.

Gravel paths should be laid on a sub-base of hardcore followed by a mix of coarse gravel and sand, finished off by a layer of the surface gravel. It is essential to roll and compact each layer as it goes down. The final surface should always have a slight camber to allow water to run off.

1. Set Out the Path

Mark out the position of the path using pegs and string or sand guidelines, making sure that it is wide enough for two people to pass each other if necessary. Dig out the path area to a depth of 18 cm (7 in) and compact the base. If the path runs next to a lawn, dig out an extra 2.5 cm (1 in) (to 20.5 cm or 8 in) so that the path is below turf level. Apply a liquid weedkiller to the hole.

2. Install the Edgings

Fix the edging material into place. Timber edging should be held in place with wooden pegs inserted at 1 m intervals along the outside of the path. Details of installing brick edging are described elsewhere in this section.

3. Prepare the Base

Add a 10 cm (4 in) layer of compacted hardcore, followed by 5 cm (2 in) of a sand and coarse gravel mix. Compact each layer with a roller.

4. Apply the Gravel

Cover the path with 2-3 cm (1 in) layer of gravel such as pea shingle. Apply the gravel in several stages, raking and rolling it to produce a slight camber for drainage. Water the gravel using a watering can fitted with a fine rose or dribble bar to help compaction and improve the path's appearance.