Lay a Gravel Path
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve worked hard to create the perfect garden, you don’t want trampling feet damaging your handiwork. You would want a gravel path for garden.
TOM: Both functional and beautiful, a gravel path can help you channel foot traffic in a way that’s friendly to your pocket and your garden. Here to give us some tips on how to lay a gravel path for garden is This Old House landscaping contractor, Roger Cook.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
TOM: So here’s a project that most folks feel like they can accomplish. They open up a bag of gravel and dump it out on the ground and call it a “path.” But it’s a lot – there’s a lot more to laying a gravel path for garden than just that.
ROGER: And I’ve heard it called a lot of other things, too. Well, it is easy. But it still needs to be done in the right, thoughtful way to get it done right.
TOM: Otherwise, it’s just going to become a pile of stone that’s just wet and muddy and has weeds growing through it and can be quite a mess.
ROGER: Right. And that’s why the first thing I do is dig out 4 to 6 inches deep. It’s not a massive dig but a little bit of one. And you’re just trying to get the roots out or anything that’ll interfere with the pathway. Once that’s done, I’ll lay in a piece of soil fabric, which is landscape fabric that keeps the soil from getting into the rest of the walkway.
TOM: OK. Now, does that actually stop the weeds from coming through?
ROGER: It will stop weeds from coming up, to some extent. Yes, it will.
Once that’s in place, I put in some pack. And that is a mix of stone dust and three-quarter stone. And I pack that down really tight. That’s going to be my base.
TOM: So even though it’s gravel, when you look at it and walk on it, there’s really a denser layer of gravel underneath?
ROGER: That’s right. And that’s what we’re going to put on next. Usually, on the top, I like putting in a small 3/8- or ¼-inch stone called “pea stone.” It is a nice little stone. It’s round and it makes a little bit of a noise when you walk on it. And it makes for a really simple, easy garden path.
LESLIE: Once you’ve got all the pea gravel in place, what’s keeping it in that pathway? I mean I know you’ve prepped and dug down a bit but I feel like the pea gravel just likes to move.
ROGER: Well, it does. And in the most natural state, you kind of exist with it. And every two or three years, you put a little more. But there is a way to hold it in place. You could use any sort of barrier. You could use steel edging, you might even use a Belgian stone or bricks. Set in the ground to hold that stone in place.
TOM: Now, Roger, if you’re trying to determine what kind of gravel path for garden that you’d like to have – because these can be sort of meandering, they can be very natural-looking – is there any easy way to kind of lay that out and kind of be able to stare at it before you actually stick a shovel in the ground?
ROGER: Yeah. I love to use a hose – a nice, flexible hose -because you can bend it, turn it, do whatever you want with it and you don’t end up with all orange dots all over your lawn trying to figure it out.
ROGER: That’s what I use is a hose.
TOM: Helps you visualize it really, really well.
LESLIE: What about if you want to be a little bit more creative rather than just a pea gravel or a different kind of stone walkway? Is there any, you know, new, creative DIY materials that we can use?
ROGER: You could pick anything you want it to and set it right into that 3/8 stone and just have the stone be between it. You could use a piece of flagstone for this – it would probably work well – bluestone, granite, anything. Even a few bricks scattered and it would work really well.
TOM: So kind of mix it in the same way we might choose some decorative tile on a wall. We could put in some pieces of flagstone or brick to kind of give it some additional personality.
ROGER: Right. Some points of interest in the walkway itself.
TOM: Great idea. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit.
ROGER: You’re welcome.