by Gail Browser
You may be surprised to find that gravel has a separate heading. Who wants gravel in their garden anyway, you may ask? We try to get rid of stones, not import them!.
Gravel is, however, both amenable and cheap and has considerable variety in shape and color. There are many possible uses in the garden. If the correct grade of gravel is used, your garden plants can grow through the gravel but the weed seedlings are unable to germinate on the dry coarse surface – a sort of gravel mulch. This needs to be 20mm (3/4in) washed shingle where the fine gravel and sand dust has been removed.
Gravel is used primarily as a path material, for which it is ideal, and traditionally as dug from the quarry is a mixture of aggregates that compact down to a hard surface. This surface although functional, can look a little untidy and have a tendency to be dirty and muddy in wet weather.
Thus, a thin blinding layer of the cleaner and neater looking washed shingle can be spread over this. Pea shingle (10mm or 1/3in) is usually used, but even this has a tendency to be trodden into the house and we would again recommend the 20mm shingle.
Two important constructional points should be mentioned to ensure success:
1. The shingle finishing layer (blinding) should be a very thin layer, too thickly spread and it will be difficult to walk on and constantly rut and look untidy.
2. If a hardcore or other larger stone base (such as limestone scalpings) has been used, this must have a finer blinding layer over it which has been well consolidated. This will avoid later problems of the layers mixing with constant use and the larger stones working to the surface.
As gravel is a loose material it will need to be contained adequately by brick or wooden edging. The bricks should be set in concrete and the wood, tanalised planks
Gravel (or shingle) is very useful as a linking surface to join other materials of different shapes and rigidity. A gravel path may merge from its formal boundaries to informal planting groups, and the incorporation of large pebbles, natural stone slabs and boulders, associate particularly well and are used very effectively in oriental gardens.