When most people think of mulch, they think of wood chips and bark. Gravel is another option that works exceptionally well in some landscape applications, as the following guide will show.
Not all areas of the yard are suitable for gravel. Use gravel to cover bare soil in areas with no plantings, particularly in low areas that require more drainage. It's also suitable for creating paths or pads for features like benches or gazebos. As a garden mulch, gravel can be used for plants that prefer well-drained and rocky soil, such as around desert plants like cacti, yucca, and some succulents. Keep in mind that gravel is hard to remove once installed, so it is best used only around perennial plants.
You have many options when it comes to gravel. Pea gravel is small, smooth, and rounded, while crushed gravel is small but with sharp edges. There are also larger options, such as smooth river stones. Further, you can find all of these size and texture options in a variety of color and stone types, from sparkly quartz and rough lava rock to pure white marble or colorful granite. Choose a texture, shape, and color that will be attractive for your intended use.
You can't simply spread the gravel over the soil and be done, as you will end up with weeds in the mulch and gravel all over your yard. First, you need to remove the turf and all roots from the area. Then, lay down a few inches of sand for unplanted areas like paths, or fresh topsoil for garden beds. Follow the soil preparation with a layer of landscape fabric, which will help keep the weeds from invading the area. Finally, install edging around the perimeter of the area to prevent the gravel from traveling into the rest of the yard. The edging strips also help anchor the landscape fabric. Once this is done, you can add a couple of inches of gravel mulch to the area.
Using gravel as mulch is relatively low maintenance but it is not maintenance-free. The main chore is keeping the gravel free of weeds and debris. You can hand pull weeds when they are young before they root through the landscape fabric, or you can kill them with an herbicide. Don't pull large weeds, as the roots will damage the fabric. As for debris, you can remove it with a gravel rake or a leafblower, as desired.
Contact a gravel bulk delivery service if you are ready to add gravel mulch to your landscaping.