Landscaping with gravel

How to choose and use this easy, plant-friendly paving for great paths and outdoor rooms

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3 WAYS WITH GRAVEL

Blur the boundaries

Allow plants to spill onto gravel to visually soften path edges. 'Tom Thumb' cotoneaster is a perfect plant for this use; a deciduous groundcover, it sends out a fan of delicate branches with small leaves that turn blood red in fall. In the planting above, cotoneaster combines with yellowish Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), a self-sown baby gunnera, and a straw-colored Carex 'Knightshayes' around a water-filled rock.

Combine with larger stones

Mix gravel with rocks of varying sizes to add interest in large areas. In the landscaping pictured at left, this technique also solved a drainage problem. The gravel path, edged on the right with 'Libelle' hydrangea and a bank of maidenhair ferns, straddles a cluster of large, flat stones that creates a bridge over a seasonal runoff channel. Water runs through a pipe hidden beneath the channel's river rocks to a catchment pond at the far end.

Add a rock border

When a gravel path and adjacent planting beds are new, the transition from bare soil to gravel can give the garden an unfinished look. One solution: Define the path edges with larger stones. As plants grow, they'll tumble over and hide the rocks. In the garden shown below, lady's-mantle with chartreuse blooms surrounds the stone fountain in foreground, while cape fuchsia (Phygelius) with orange-pink flowers grows across the path.

Next: gravel basics 

 

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