How to Make Pea Gravel Patio? And Its Pros and Cons

pea gravel patio
Pea gravel patio (Source: Wonderful Design YouTUbe)

Do you wish to landscape your backyard with something sturdy to walk on yet very eco-friendly to boast about?

The answer should be a pea gravel patio that is both sturdy and natural.

It is an accessible DIY patio that can be created in a quick few steps and comes with many benefits.

To make a pea gravel patio, choose a specific place, remove the grass, lay out and secure the landscape, and add pea gravel. Pea gravel patio is comfortable to walk on, naturally prevent weed growth, and is more affordable than most landscaping materials.

Stanidng on pea gravel patio
Standing on pea gravel surface (Source: Wikimedia)

However, an ill-prepared patio will dissipate or sink in a loose foundation, requiring frequent redo and expenses.

Therefore, be wary of its pros and cons before creating a pea gravel patio at home or office.

Read on to learn more about the pea gravel patio and how to create one economically.

Is Pea Gravel Good for Patio?

With homeowners choosing from all-wood parquet to grass carpets, landscaping the backyard and patio never seems to go out of fashion.

However, it would help if you were wary about the landscaping material to avoid costly mistakes later.

Regarding durable landscaping materials, pea gravel makes a nature-friendly and affordable material perfect for creating DIY patios.

For a meager amount and a few days of labor, you can have an elegant landscape that works out for an outdoor dining space or even a Japanese Zen Garden.

Pea gravel walkway
Pea gravel walkway (Source: Pixabay)

Moreover, they are easy to maintain and require minimal site preparation beforehand, saving you time.

They are more durable than wood, cost lesser than tiles or stones, and are flexible to install or remove.

A layer of crushed pea gravel can maintain a patio surface’s normal wear and tear.  The small size of pea gravel rocks minimizes big air pockets, which reduces the probability of frost damage.

The spherical shapes of pea gravel leave small gaps, giving many paths for underground moisture to escape from beneath the surface.

Remodeling Expense points out that you can get the best pea gravel patio for $1.33 per square foot in Florida, whereas the same project could cost $1.20 in Los Angeles.

A 100 sq. ft. pea gravel patio can become an achievable dream for under $150 unless hiring a licensed patio contractor, which may cost slightly more.

However, getting an expert will help save you from making costly mistakes with Do-It-Yourself projects.

How to Make a Pea Gravel Patio?

Making a pea gravel patio is easy and quick when you have the right tools and techniques.

Any homeowner with minimal knowledge in construction or home remodeling can attempt a DIY peal gravel patio.

In fact, about 37% of homeowners do their home remodeling projects, as reported by NerdWallet analysis.

Here is in-handy information to help you start an economical DIY pea gravel patio.

Materials Required to Make Pea Gravel Patio

Here is the list of tools and materials required.

ToolsPurpose
Transfer ShovelTo transfer dirt, crushed stones, gravel etc.
Garden RakeIdeal for raking and removing debris from garden.
WheelbarrowTo carry dirts, stone, gravel etc.
LevelTo level up the surface.
Measuring TapeTo measure the layout
Pea Gravel (3/8 inch)Makes perfect walkaways for the patio and controls weed.
Crushed Rock (3/4 inch) (3/4 inch) or Gravel or GravelIt will add stability to the top layer of pea gravel.
Landscape Edging or Timber frameTo provide the solid border to edge weed or mow grass.
Landscape Fabric and Stakes/PinsIt helps to keep mulches and unwanted debris like rocks from settling into the soil
Marking Spray Paint (Optional)To provide the finishing touch to the patio

Step-by-Step Process to Make a Pea Gravel Patio

Here is the step-by-step process of creating a pea gravel patio.

1. Choosing a Location

To begin with, choose an appropriate location that is relatively flat so that the gravel would not roll away. Any flat ground would work.

Consider whether the location receives significant rainfall, which may drain through the gravel and away from the small pieces.

Backyard
The backyard is an ideal place to create a pea gravel patio (Source: Unsplash)

Heavy foot traffic areas will disturb and dispel small gravels; hence, it is best to avoid pea gravel landscape in the parkway and front yard.

A sunny area is more appropriate for a pea gravel patio to keep it warm and dry all the time.

Ensure the chosen location is suitable enough to install the landscape edging to keep the pea gravel in place.

2. Mark the Perimeter

Mark the perimeter in a square or rectangular shape using a measuring tape and marking spray.

Square up the frame by measuring between the diagonally opposed corners.

Remember, the ample and more profound the space, the more gravel you would need.

Similarly, you should excavate the site to dig up 3 inches of soil. Anything less or more would create an inappropriate pea gravel bed.

Mark the perimeter using an inch-tape
Mark the perimeter using an inch-tape (Source: Unsplash)

3. Remove Vegetation, Rock, and Debris

The next step is to excavate the area to remove all vegetation, soil, rocks, and debris.

Using a transfer shovel, pick the debris and collect it in a wheelbarrow to locate it somewhere else.

You can cut away grass, roots, and vegetation using a hatchet or pickaxe.

dig the ground using a shovel
Dig the ground using a shovel (Source: Pixabay)

Ask a friend or family member to lend you a hand if the task seems hefty. Always keep a trowel in hand to clear tiny sections such as corners and edges.

4. Tamp and Build the Foundation

Rake the soil using a garden rake to bring it to a level.

The next step is to tamp the ground by repeatedly walking over the empty. Alternatively, you can use a hand tramp to compact the loose soil.

Rake the soil
Rake the soil (Source: Unsplash)

If you have loose or sandy soil, you will need a base layer to keep the gravel structure in its place. Use a level to measure whether the ground is completely flat out.

5. Layout and Secure Landscaping Edging

Secure the space by laying the landscape edging or timers to hold the gravel in space

Depending on the patio’s size, you need eight to ten landscape timbers.

Overlap the timbers at the corners overlapping against each other’s butts to make a compact edge.

6. Install and Secure Landscape Fabric

Now, lay the landscape fabric to cover the entire patio area. It will keep the pea gravel from sliding into the ground.

Overlap each strip of fabric by four inches to create a border and secure the fabric using stakes or pins.

7. Add the Gravel

The final step is to cover the patio with pea gravel. Load up a wheelbarrow with pea gravel and toss it into the space.

For example, filling a 10 x 10 feet space with 3 inches depth would require 0.92 cubic yards of gravel. Similarly, a 16 x 16 feet space would need 2.37 cubic yards of rock.

Here is a simple formula to estimate the cubic yard of gravel; (Length x Breadth x Height) feet divided by 27.

Continue the process until you fill each section of the patio. Smooth out the gravel using a rake or trowel until the surface is flat and level.

Voila, your pea gravel patio is ready to use. Consider washing it with a garden hose to clean the surface.

Pea Gravel Patio: Pros and Cons

Pea gravel makes a perfect landscaping material, and a pea gravel patio offers multiple uses and benefits.

However, it is not a permanent fixture of any home. Let us look at some of the benefits and disadvantages of using a pea gravel patio.

Pea Gravel Patio Pros

Here are some proven benefits of a pea gravel patio.

1. Cost-Effective with Exceptional Result

Pea gravel is the most cost-effective landscape material you can ever find.

The most decorative pea gravel would cost about $55 per ton, making your entire pea gravel patio project cost lesser than $150.

Moreover, it costs almost nothing to maintain the patio. If you want to establish a lovely-looking patio on a budget, a pea gravel patio is your best choice.

pea gravel patio
Pea gravel patio (Source: Unsplash)

2. Easy to Install and Low Maintenance

A Pea gravel patio is relatively easy to install and requires only a handful of tools and materials.

Even a novice could install a pea gravel patio by watching a YouTube tutorial.

Doing it yourself project helps save cost on expert’s services.

3. Multiple Customizable Designs

Choosing pea gravel comes with versatility as you can choose from varying sizes, textures, and colors.

You can choose pea gravel products ranging from 1/4 inch or lesser to even 1.25 inches in size.

However, a pea gravel patio is best when products smaller than 1/4 inch are used.

Similarly, you can choose gray, white, yellow, or beige gravels. Some may even appear translucent, giving them an other-worldly appearance.

different colored pea gravels
Different colored pea gravels (Source: Pexels)

4. Easy to Walk Over

It is easy to walk over, provided you wear comfortable shoes or slippers.

The pea gravel surface begins to compact over time and harden to provide resistance, so you can walk or even place daily items over it.

This process will speed up if you place binding oil with the product as it compresses to create a hard, flat surface.

5. Prevents Weed Growth

You can lay out pea gravel without worrying about flooding issues. Similarly, it will also prevent weed growth from going out of hand.

Sunlight and moisture are two factors that increase the likelihood of weed growth on the ground.

The good news is that the pea gravel patio creates a thick, protective layer over the ground that keeps the moisture and sunlight away, preventing weed growth.

Moreover, it will help control pest problems by removing vegetation from the ground likely to harbor pest eggs.

Garden weeds
Garden weeds (Source: Unsplash.com)

6. Natural-looking and Aesthetically Appealing

No wonder the pea gravel patio is entirely natural and equally aesthetic to look at.

You can allow it to stand alone, fill the gaps between the pavers, and style it to accent the small corners, statues, or even houseplants.

It makes a perfect outdoor dining space to add luxury and style. Similarly, you can lay it around the small pond to create a Zen-like environment.

7. It is Widely Available

The best thing about pea gravel is that they are widely available and easily accessible.

Most pea gravel products found locally are made from local stones, making it affordable as it eliminates expensive transportation costs.

It is the same process as many communities use the local stones to resurface roads.

Pea gravels are made from unprocessed gravels
Pea gravels are made from unprocessed gravels (Source: Wikimedia)

Pea Gravel Patio Cons

Here are some disadvantages and drawbacks of installing a pea gravel patio.

1. Easily Displaced

The biggest drawback of pea gravel products is that they would not stay in place, requiring barricading it from all sides.

If you only create a patio using the material, you will find it being transported across your yard.

It can quickly dissipate and land in places where it should not be.

Moreover, different sections of the pea gravel patio will begin to sink when the gravels move away from their place.

2. Requires a Firm Foundation

Establish a sturdy foundation when laying the pea gravel; otherwise, it will sink deeper into the ground.

Even if you create a layer 4-6 inches thick, you will find that footprints quickly begin dislodging large surface areas.

It would mostly happen when the foundation layer is torn out by the pea gravels, requiring removing all the gravels to lay a new foundation.

Landscape fabric
Laying out Landscape fabric (Source: Amazon)

3. Uncomfortable for Underfoot

You cannot imagine walking barefoot on the pea gravel because the tiny edges will poke into your soles.

Although it provides a softer surface to walk on compared with other types of material, walking barefoot is barely possible.

Small children who wander outside without wearing shoes will become the primary victims of thorny pea gravels.

Naked foot on gravel
Naked foot on gravel (Source: Unsplash)

4. Damaging to Furniture

As you may imagine, Pea gravel does not work well with most furniture.

The weight of the furniture, especially the seated chair and table, would cause the gravel to sink further into the soil.

The sharp edges may scratch the furniture’s legs.

To make it appropriate for seating, such as dining or partying, you need at least a six-inch deep layer of pea gravel surface.

5. Complicates Snow Removal

Removing a thick pile of snow using a shovel from the pea gravel can be a headache.

Not only will you remove the snow but also the top layer of pea gravel with it.

Your best bet is to remove as much snow with a shovel and then melt the rest using a leaf blower or salt.

Cleaning gravel snow
Cleaning gravel snow can be a daunting task (Source: Pixabay)

6. Continues to Polish and Shape Over Time

Whether you like it or not, the pea gravel will continue to polish and shape itself over time.

The constant rolling and pounding of the gravel as you walk over them will think it out, turning it into something resembling a marble.

You will be requiring refilling the pea gravels to keep the patio compact.

Otherwise, use a product like concrete exposed aggregate to reduce the gravel’s movement.

7. Weed Growth May Continue

It may seem like the weed growth is controlled with a pea gravel patio, but the weed can continue to grow.

Although the thick gravel layer will prevent weed growth on the ground, the organic elements in the rock may encourage unwanted seeds to begin germinating.

The weed will begin growing on the surface of pea gravel. These weeds are easy to pull; hence, remember to check for wee growth every few months.

pea gravel patio
Pea gravel patio (Source: Wonderful Design YouTube)

How to Maintain Pea Gravel Patio?

  • Tidy the gravel surface with a rake once in a while to keep it level.
  • Replenish the gravel every two to four years when it begins to thin out.
  • Pick out food droppings and pet wastes from the gravel before it begins sinking underneath.
  • Fill a spray bottle with diluted Pine-sol or other household cleaners, spray it over the gravel generously, and let it sit before giving it a thorough watering.
  • Always keep extra pea gravel batch in your garage or store to replenish it.

Call 8-1-1, the national “Call Before You Dig” hotline, to prevent driving stakes into the ground that may pierce electrical or plumbing lines.

Conclusion

Pea gravel patio makes a perfect space to hang around or dine out with your family and friends.

You can create a mini-garden of your favorite houseplants over the pea gravel patio. Moreover, it is also economical as you will save a lot of money installing a pea gravel patio.

Follow this guide to get yourself a tidy and aesthetically appealing pea gravel patio in no time.

Do use the DIY steps to create one with minimal tools and expertise.

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