How to Landscape with Pea Gravel

Close up of pea gravel

Looking for a simple way to give your yard a facelift? Landscaping with pea gravel is the perfect solution. These smooth, crushed-rock pebbles are incredibly versatile, easy to install, and require very little maintenance.

When it comes to landscaping, nothing adds structure and eye-catching appeal like good hardscaping. Landscaping with pea gravel might be the easiest and most cost-efficient way to add hardscaping that’s both functional and attractive to your yard.

Hardscapes include garden paths, patios, sitting areas, and any solid surfaces designed to relieve your lawn from the stresses of foot traffic. They also make for great accents and contrasts to surrounding gardens, flower beds, and planters.

Here’s everything you need to know about transforming your yard by landscaping with pea gravel.

What is Pea Gravel?

Pea gravel depth of field with water in the background

Pea gravel refers to small, rounded stones about the size of the green vegetable they’re named after. Similar to river rocks, they get their smooth texture from flowing water and are typically found near riverbeds and bodies of water.

Because the small stones are formed by natural weathering, pea gravel comes in all kinds of natural colors, including shades of brown, gray, and white.

What is Pea Gravel Used For?

A pea gravel path through a large garden

Pea gravel is perfect for everything from walkways and garden borders to patios and driveways. The soft texture of the stones makes it great for footpaths.

Pea gravel also suppresses weed growth and doesn’t decompose like organic mulch so it makes for an effective rock mulch. Plus, its gravelly nature means it drains well and is rodent resistant, making it perfect for xeriscaping and an ideal border for a garden or home.

Pea gravel has tons of uses thanks to its durability, shapeable properties, and classic look.

How to Install Pea Gravel

There are a few important things to keep in mind when completing a DIY install with pea gravel.

First, it travels, so you’ll need to have a solid border or edging material to make sure it stays contained. Stone pavers, metal edging, or treated lumber are all great options. Without this, your pea gravel will end up spreading around the yard and causing headaches (and maybe foot-aches).

Although pea gravel is easy to maintain in the short term, it can be cumbersome and difficult to clean or replace down the road.

Set yourself up for success by laying down a layer of landscaping fabric before installing the stones so that no stray weeds or nuisance plants find their way into the gravelly mix. This should prevent the growth of weeds and keep cleaning low maintenance.

Next, pea gravel shifts underfoot, so you’ll need to carefully plan how deep your layer will go. Go too deep and the graveled area will sink like quicksand when stepped on, but too shallow and it will quickly become a muddy mess.

Start with a heavy tamper to compress any soil underneath, add a sturdy base layer of either crushed rock or sand, layer on about 3 inches of pea gravel, and then tamp down again to make sure everything is compact. A sturdy base is especially important for gravel driveways.

Pea Gravel Patio Ideas

Looking for some pea gravel inspiration? Check out these ideas for the perfect pea gravel patio.

A mixed-material patio using smaller gravel and larger decorative stones, like flagstone or bluestone, is a classic landscape design. The same concept applies to a pea gravel path with stepping stones.

Pea gravel walkway with inset flagstone stepping stones

Use a pea gravel patio border to enhance your existing outdoor space.

Pea gravel border around a flagstone patio
Photo Credit: “Grand Flagstone Patio” by Decorative Concrete Kingdom, CC 2.0

A pea gravel epoxy patio gives you much better support than loose gravel and means more options for outdoor furniture.

A pea gravel epoxy patio with a bench surrounded surrounded by flowers

You can use a fire pit area as the centerpiece or an add-on to your pea gravel patio.

A pea gravel patio with blue chairs facing an outdoor fireplace

Pea Gravel Landscaping FAQ

Is pea gravel good for patios?

Yes. Pea gravel is a cheap and easy to maintain patio material that can be used on its own or with other elements like stones or cement.

What do you put under pea gravel?

Landscaping fabric and sand or crushed rock (or both) are most common. You can also use a honeycomb grid for extra stability.

What type of gravel is best for patios?

What’s best depends on you and what you want out of your patio. Pea gravel is a top choice and is very versatile. Standard gravel, crushed stone, river rock, and decomposed granite are other popular choices.

How much is a truckload of pea gravel?

A truckload of pea gravel is typically around $250-500, depending on how much you buy. It can also be purchased by the bag on Amazon or by the cubic yard from your local garden center.

How much will a ton of pea gravel cover?

It depends on how deep your layer of pea gravel is. A ton of pea gravel should cover about 60 square feet at four inches deep, 80 square feet at three inches, and around 120 square feet at 2 inches deep.

Can you walk barefoot on pea gravel?

Pea gravel is considered uncomfortable to walk on barefooted. Although it’s possible (people walk on burning hot coals) you wouldn’t want to.

What is the difference between pea stone and pea gravel?

Nothing. Pea stone is just another name for pea gravel. It’s sometimes called pea pebbles, too.

Is pea gravel cheaper than river rock?

Yes, pea gravel is typically less expensive than river rock. Plus, pea gravel is smaller and lighter so buying by the pound will yield greater coverage with pea gravel compared to the same weight of river rock.

Does pea gravel wash away?

Pan gravel can wash away in heavy rain or if placed in front of downspouts or areas that flood. It’s best to use some sort of border to contain it and prevent it from traveling.

When to Call a Landscaping Professional

Call a landscaping professional near you if you need assistance with your pea gravel patio installation, maintenance, or other landscaping ideas. Working with hundreds of pounds of small rocks can be a weighty endeavor, and you’ll likely need help lugging them around.

Reaching out to a professional to take care of the more challenging work just might save you a trip to the chiropractor.

Professional landscapers can also advise you on making the right aesthetic decisions, like what color pea gravel to use or what other stones to incorporate into your patio or landscape. Their eye for design could be the difference between landscaping that you love and a regrettable design decision.

Ryan Plank

Ryan Plank

Ryan Plank is a freelance writer and journalist in Orlando, Florida. He studied at Florida State University and is an avid golfer.