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20 December 2022

5 Simple Ways to Maintain a Gravel Garden

12th November 2020 / Annie

Gravel gardens can be a great option for areas of your outdoor space. They look fabulous and are easy to maintain. It is important to know how to maintain a gravel garden in order to keep your space looking pristine.

A Gravel Garden is often chosen as an alternative to traditional turf, as they require very little effort all year round. In addition, you only need to water the plants, and weeds are less common so you can say goodbye to the old lawn mower!

Flamingo Gravel 14-20mm, laid in a garden with Aged Oak Sleeper Steppingstones

Though gravel gardens are fairly simple to upkeep, it is important you know what you are doing in order to keep your garden looking in tip top shape. Once you know how to properly maintain a gravel garden, it is an easy task to keep clean.

1. Control your weeds

Weed Barrier Membranes are a great option. A permeable material which can be used in a gravel garden to prevent weed growth through the stone chippings, it will also protect your gravel from the soil below and help to keep it cleaner for longer.

Onyx Chippings 20mm being laid onto a Groundtex Weed Membrane

If you do have areas of (deliberate) plants in your gravel garden, you can simply snip holes in the weed membrane with scissors as the material is soft enough to do so.

Weed membrane can be easily laid on the ground beneath the decorative gravel. It is effective and easy option for weed defence as once laid, it will not need changing and doesn’t require topping up.

If a weed membrane is not an option, weed killer can be used for any weeds or grass that grow in the gravel area. There are plenty of weed killers, including organic products which will effectively remove unwanted weeds and grass.

Golden Gravel used as a path around a pond and patio with a table & chairs

2. Choose hard-wearing gravel

The right type of gravel is also key to having an easy to maintain gravel garden. Harder wearing chippings such as Basalt, Granite, Quartz, or Flint stones won’t need topping up as regularly as softer chippings such as Limestone or Cotswold. Marble and Dolomite products are semi-soft materials, so may discolour more easily in damp areas.

Therefore, if you do select a softer material then beware of wetter garden areas such as under trees or TV ariels. These sections of your garden may start to go a little green after a year or so.

Polar Ice Gravel 20mm, with some algae growth due to the wet environment where it was laid.

Luckily, it is quite easy to clean the green off marble products such as our Polar Ice. You can use products like Wet and Forget. Watch our video below for tips and techniques.

We suggest using chippings sized between 10-20mm as they will not get stuck in shoe treads and be relocated around your garden or into your home! This size will also provide a more comfortable surface to walk over compared to larger rocks. If the area is going to be walked on, we also suggest selecting an angular gravel, as these chippings will lock together better and form a flatter surface.

It is best to avoid using small gravels or dashing sized 1- 10mm, as neighbourhood cats may mistake your gravel garden for a litter box. Light colour gravel can also easily look discoloured so it may be better to stick to darker colours.

3. Rake the gravel into rows

To help keep your gravel garden looking sharp, you can rake the gravel into rows using a sturdy garden rake. This also helps prevent bald spots from occurring and is easier to do with smaller chippings but can look remarkably effective.

Black Basalt Chippings 6mm, raked into parallel lines & circles in a Japanese Gravel Garden

Rows of gravel can also be used to style a Japanese Gravel Garden. Also, if you are using smaller chippings, you may also be able to create patterns in your gravel for a unique design.

Obviously, we would not recommend this for an area going to be regularly walked over. Your efforts wouldn’t hold up for long!

4. Use a leaf blower for a quick dry clean

If you are lucky, your gravel garden will be located away from trees. However, during the Autumn months especially, it is virtually impossible to stop leaves appearing on your gravelled area. It is important to remove leaves quickly as they can cause discoloration to lighter gravels.

Picking up each leaf by hand can be a slow and painstaking way of removing them so we suggest investing in a leaf blower. These are quick and effective and will quickly clear out any leaves or debris that may have gotten into your garden. We do suggest using the leaf blower on a low setting, to avoid blowing away the gravel.

5. Water your plants on a regular basis

Don’t forget to water your plants on a regular basis. The best types of plants to have in your gravel garden include herbs, perennials, and ornamental grasses. These not only look gorgeous but have the most success growing in a gravel environment. Keeping your plants alive will also prevent any unsightly debris forming on your gravel.

If you do end up with mud and debris on your gravel, a quick hose down and a light scrub with a hard bristled brush should clean them up in no time.

Flamingo Chippings 14-20mm laid with wooden garden furniture

Keeping plants in pots is another way to enjoy some plant life in your gravelled garden. You can choose pots that blend seamlessly with the colour tones of your gravel. Alternatively choose plants and pots that provide an attractive contrast.

Your own gravel garden

The multitude of gravel colour options available means that you will find a decorative chipping to suit any garden or landscaping design. Therefore, gravel gardens are a wonderful option for your outside spaces as it is low maintenance and can make for a beautiful, landscaped area.

For more help, watch our video on making and maintaining a gravel garden.


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