In order to keep a layer of pea gravel in place as part of a driveway or path, make sure to excavate the area to a depth of 5–6 inches (13–15 cm). Then, pour 3 inches (8 cm) of coarse, angular gravel into the excavated area, followed by 3 inches of pea gravel on top. Next, add a border alongside the pathway, patio, or driveway. Plastic grids that keep gravel in place are excellent for sloped driveways. Other methods, such as tamping down the gravel after installation and sloping the area for drainage also help keep gravel stay put. By adding paver stones to pea gravel walkways and driveways that receive heavy traffic, you can reduce the amount of gravel that gets disturbed.
7 DIY Methods for Keeping Pea Gravel in Place
A pea gravel patio or path that is constantly spreading and thinning because the gravel won’t stay in place can be very frustrating. Your hard work creating a beautiful gravel area can feel like it’s gone to waste. In order to keep pea gravel driveways and other surfaces pristine, use these methods:
Whenever you are planning a new pea gravel path or patio, it’s essential to excavate the area first. Mark the planned pathway or driveway with marking paint, then excavate the whole area to a depth of 5–6 inches (13–15 cm). This will allow you to lay a deep, contained bed of gravel.
- Mark the outline of the area where you want to pour pea gravel.
- Excavate the marked area to a depth of 5–6 inches (13–15 cm).
- If you pour pea gravel without excavating, it will not stay in place.
Pea gravel that is spread on top of the ground without excavating will spread out quickly, blending into nearby grass and garden beds. It will also become a slippery surface where gravel is prone to washing away with water runoff.
Lay Pea Gravel On Top of Coarse Gravel
When pouring gravel into an excavated area, it’s best to lay pea gravel on top of another type of gravel. The rounded stones that pea gravel is made of are prone to compacting or rolling, which can lead to poor drainage and sliding gravel, especially on slopes. To stop your pea gravel from sliding:
- Pour a 3-inch base layer of angular gravel before pouring pea gravel.
- Use #3 or #57 crushed stone as a base for your gravel.
- Add 2–3 inches of pea gravel on top of the coarse gravel base layer.
By beginning with a base layer of angular gravel, you create a gravel base that resists flooding and washouts. The angular stones of coarse gravel also lock together well and resist sliding.
Add a Border
The best way to contain pea gravel is to add a border around paths and walkways. Although plastic is an option, metal borders work best. Good metal edging can contain a layer of gravel several inches deep.
- Install this metal border around your gravel areas to contain gravel.
- Metal borders are more durable than plastic.
- Install your border so that it stands at least ½ inch (1cm) above the soil surface.
Whatever style of border you choose to install, it should stand at least ½-inch (1 cm) above the soil outside the border. This is high enough to contain gravel that attempts to spread during ordinary walking and vehicle traffic.
Install a Water-Permeable Grid
If you need to keep several square feet of pea gravel in place, it’s a great idea to invest in a water-permeable grid. These grids lock the gravel into plastic “cups” that keep it in place on a slope. With this system, gravel can’t and won’t shift or spread out.
- Use these paver grids to keep gravel walkways and driveways in place.
- Water-permeable grid systems allow water to drain away but will keep gravel in place.
- A grid system can be installed without removing your existing gravel.
You can install a grid system first, then pour gravel on top of it, or you can add a grid on top of existing gravel. To add a grid when you already have gravel, lay the grid down, then use a vehicle or roller to press the grid down into the gravel.
- Lightweight permeable pavers are easy for anyone to use.
- All-weather pavers work in all climates and conditions.
- Easy maintenance to prevent mud, ruts, puddles, or potholes.
Pack the Gravel Down
Loose gravel surfaces can shift and spread out in high-traffic areas. To combat this, use a tamper or roller to pack your gravel down after installation. Packing your gravel down will result in a smooth texture and help keep the gravel in place.
- Use a tamper or heavy lawn roller to compact gravel to keep in place.
- Packed pea gravel is far less likely to spread out.
Gravel that is not tamped down can spread out. This allows a layer of landscape fabric beneath the gravel to show. It also allows weed growth to invade the edges of your gravel bed.
Water runoff may not seem like much to worry about, but even a little rainfall can wash away several square feet of pea gravel. To combat this, build your gravel pathways and driveways with a crest at the center. The gravel should slope down to the sides to promote water to run off easily. This prevents flooding and washouts.
- Build gravel paths and driveways with a crest at the center so water flows off to the sides.
- Add drainage trenches in your gravel installations to reduce the amount of gravel carried away by runoff.
If your gravel areas collect standing water during rain, it may be time to consider digging a drainage trench in gravel. Proper drainage will help the water flow away without disturbing your pea gravel cover.
Add Paver Stones
Adding square pavers or decorative stones is a great way to help your gravel stay in place. By putting two rows of pavers in your driveway where your vehicle’s tires go, you prevent ruts in gravel.
- Add stones or pavers among gravel installations to reduce traffic that throws or spreads gravel.
- Place rows of pavers in your driveway so you can drive on them.
- Add stepping stones to paths to reduce foot traffic on gravel.
The same principle of using pavers on a driveway applies to patios and pathways. Add pavers as stepping stones to reduce foot traffic on the gravel. This prevents your gravel from loosening and spreading out.
How Do You Lock Pea Gravel in Place?
The best methods for locking pea gravel in palace on slopes, paths, driveways, or patios are:
- Excavate the area to a depth of 5–6 inches before pouring pea gravel.
- Add a layer of base rock, then pour pea gravel on top
- Install a metal border around gravel to keep the looser stones contained.
- Add a water-permeable paver grid to your gravel.
- Compact gravel with a tamper after installation.
- Slope gravel driveways and paths so water runs off easily.
- Add paver stones in gravel to reduce traffic on the gravel itself.
Each of these solutions is easily accomplished as a DIY task. They will all help your gravel remain in place. In fact, it’s best to use several of these solutions together to create a stable, durable pea gravel installation.