I absolutely adore our pea gravel paths in our yard. They help make the areas not only seem special, but I love the crunch of the gravel under my feet and it has such great texture! Even though we have a brick path, and some areas of mulch, we have a few pea gravel garden paths around our yard that I just love. I have learned a few things about maintaining a pea gravel path over the last few years that they really don’t tell you about, like weeding and settling. Every site I see talks about giving it a “gentle rake” once in a while; That is the least of the maintenance, but well worth it! I have some tips you can use when caring for and maintaining your pea gravel path that we’ve learned along the way in this DIY project.
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In 2016, we installed a pea gravel path in our backyard an area where my raspberries grew. It was a great solution for that area and created a nice micro-zone in our yard. I love how they line our flower beds! For installation of the first part of the path, we did (most of) of the proper steps including installing landscape fabric as a barrier under the pathway area. We did not compact the earth as it was already pretty hard underneath or add a base layer since it was a smaller pea gravel path. If I were doing a larger area such as a pea gravel drive way or courtyard, I wouldn’t skip the extra steps. At first weed growth wasn’t an issue, but now that we are a few seasons in, I’ve learned a few things and the weeds like to grab hold any way they can. Over time soil and grit blows into the gravel and makes the perfect medium for all of those little weed seedlings. You can also see a video of on of the ways I maintain our gravel paths weed-free (for the most part!). When we added the extension to this pea gravel walkway, I threw caution to thew wind and did it totally the wrong way. I layered cardboard over the lawn, built up and edge and then added my stone. And you know what? A few years in, both paths look the same and are the same to maintain.
What you need to know about your pea gravel pathways
Like I said earlier, over time, fine dirt and soil will settle between the gravel and landscape fabric. While this is a natural part of anything outside, is what it means is that it’s easier for weed seeds to take root as the years go by. While you can sprinkle pre-emergents like Preen (conventional) or Corn Meal Gluten (organic), it also means the longer you have your pea gravel pathways or patios, the more weed control will become a challenge. I don’t use any chemical pre-emergents because our pathways wind around food growing areas and I don’t like using chemicals in our garden.
A hard, heavy rain can shift some of the gravel
If you happen to get torrential downpours, it can be enough water to float the gravel to a new place, which is why you want to make sure you have proper drainage for your gravel path. You also want to avoid creating a path in low lying area. Are a really big rain you may need to rake your gravel level again and ready for foot traffic.
There will be some manual weeding
I’ve noticed, once in a while dandelions make a nice little home for them selves among the pea gravel and need to be vacated. This year, over winter, the chickweed really got a hold of some areas… it was crazy. While I will hit them with a dousing of vinegar over the summer when it’s going to be a scorching hot day, and they shrivel right up in the hot sun, right now I just needed to get the roots out. This is one of my favorite tool for weeding. It’s a trowel with a forked end on it, and it helps pop the weed up at the root, so I can get the entire plant out, dig or even cut a little.
The pea gravel will tend to settle towards the lower spots in the path.
While our yard seems pretty flat in some spots, and the path has a slight grade difference, the pea gravel has still settled toward the low spots, leaving the higher areas of the path with a thinner layer of gravel. I have found at the beginning of each season , I’ve had to rake some of the gravel from the lower spots back to the higher areas. You can see more of our pea gravel path in the video in this post. If you want to have less pathway to weed, you can try adding concrete pavers or flagstone like I did in our original pathway. This saves on gravel and are less areas weeds can grow. Personally, I like the path without them, but that’s a design choice.
You will need to add fresh pea gravel every so often.
Luckily, pea gravel cost per bag is pretty low. Ours is under $5 per bag. Even though pea gravel is a rock, it’s not a one and done like areas with a lot of larger landscape rocks that tend to stay put and there is some natural weathering and erosion that happens. I am not sure where the gravel goes, but every year or so, we need to add gravel to “top off” the path. It’s normally about 3 -4 bags for us, which is about $20, So it’s not a huge expense, just a pain to have to pick it up from the home improvement store, pour it on, and spread it out. Also, the pebbles just tend to look “dull” after a while. A few fresh bags really makes a difference. Tip! Pea gravel can had a lot of stone dust you don’t want to breathe in when pouring the bags. Poke a few holes in the bags and use a garden hose to wet the stone first and rinse it off and let it drain completely before opening it. If you are using a wheelbarrow, wear a dust mask and spray the stones with water to wash the dust off.
While a pea gravel path is a little bit of extra work, and not really what I would call “low maintenance”I still wouldn’t trade them. There’s nothing like how pretty they are or the crunch of the gravel under your feet. Know i know why rich people in the old days had pea gravel courtyards. It feels fancy even if they aren’t. Would I do an entire pea gravel driveway or pea gravel patio? I don’t know if I would be up for that with o I love them so much we keep adding to them! You can read more about our pea gravel path changes here.