Gravel Backyard Ideas (Design Gallery)

Welcome to our gallery of gravel backyard ideas including types of gravel, sizes, cost and design pictures. Modern gravel patio with fire pit The idea of gravel backyards is becoming increasingly common as time goes on. For one, it’s a gorgeous option that gives you a variety of choices in type, color, and even size which will allow you to create something truly one-of-a-kind and unique.

You can also use gravel to create a lower maintenance backyard that decreases your usage of water, fertilizer, and the need for mowing.

If you aren’t sure where to start, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about gravel backyards and ideas you can use for them.

How to Use Gravel In Your Backyard

When it comes to using gravel in your backyard, there are plenty of ideas out there. With a little creativity, you can come up with something unique and gorgeous.

Some common uses for gravel in backyards are walkways, patios, and fire pits. However, you can also use gravel to help create unique landmarks in your yard or as tools in creating a garden.

Even better, you can vary how your gravel backyard looks by varying the type, color, and size of gravel that you use. Even mixing and matching gravel can help you take a concept and make it far more dynamic and interesting.

All in all, you have plenty of options when it comes to how to use gravel in your backyard. Converting single or multiple parts of your yard into gravel sections can add a dynamic touch to your yard as well as allow you to take advantage of the practical benefits of a gravel backyard.

Landscaping Gravel Types

Gravel Backyard With Desert Plants If you aren’t familiar, there are far more gravel types than the typical gravel driveway. This gives you the chance to play around with different styles as well as take advantage of the various benefits of different types of gravel.

A familiar type of gravel is crushed granite. You’ll often see this type of granite offered in gray tones but you can also purchase it in brown or tan. This is also a popular choice because it’s inexpensive and can be taken on as a DIY project.

Next, there’s pea gravel which has a smooth, rounded texture. It also has a wide range of natural color variations, so you can play with colors in your design.

Lava rock for landscaping Lava rock or scoria is a more porous gravel type with either a red or black hue. This helps to make it stand out from other inorganic materials you might be using in your backyard. Since it’s lightweight, it’s also fairly easy to lay out and install.

Lava rock is great for areas that need drainage. However, they do tend to attract heat which may overhead plants or become uncomfortable for bare feet.

River rock is exactly what it sounds like – varying rounded rocks like those you might find at the river. The range of sizes and colors is great for a variety of uses such as edging or even pairing it with another material to use on a pathway.

Slate chips gravel Slate chips have a growing level of popularity and for good reason. You have plenty of color options such as blue, red, purple, and gray.

They’re particularly popular for use as mulch to limit weed growth and bug attraction.

Slate chips often measure from 1″ to 2″ across and pack well making them a good choice when a flat surface is needed.

Glass Gravel For Landscaping Finally, you have the option to use glass gravel. It might sound surprising but this type of gravel is made from recycled glass which is cleaned, broken down, and tumbled to get rid of the sharp edges.

It lasts a long time and you can purchase it in almost any color you might want and in a wide array of sizes.

Glass gravel is often used in rock rivers to give them the appearance of flowing water.

Gravel Sizes

Gravel comes in a variety of sizes and those sizes can have a variety of uses. For instance, you might use them decoratively while applications such as driveways often use different sizes of gravel in an effort to improve drainage.

If you’re new to buying or using gravel, the sizing can be confusing. The sizes aren’t always measured in traditional methods. For instance, you might see a size written as #9 Gravel or #67 Gravel.

Most suppliers that you can buy gravel from will break down these sizes in a chart or explanation but once you learn what gravel size is, the concept is similar across the board.

As an example, gravel referred to as “pea stones” are about ¼” in diameter or even smaller such as #7, #8, or #89 Gravel. When in doubt, a reference chart goes a long way.

1/4 inch gravel is a good size to allow it to pack tightly and  also provide the right amount of drainage when necessary.

Gravel Costs

The price of gravel depends on quite a few factors such as the type of gravel you choose and additional costs such as delivery and installation.

On average, though, gravel comes at a cost of about $60 to $75 for every cubic yard before additional costs are factored in. In square feet, this equates to about $1 to $3 per square foot.

If you’re having trouble calculating an estimated cost of your gravel, you can always rely on the help of a gravel cost calculator.

However, it’s important to take into consideration that buying from different suppliers and tacking on additional costs can change this estimate. When adding on spreading and installation costs, most workers charge around $40 to $50 per hour.

What Is the Cheapest Gravel for Landscaping?

If you’re trying to add gravel elements to your backyard on a budget, you might want to look for the most inexpensive option. To give a wider estimate on gravel than the average, you can expect to spend close to $15 to $75 on a cubic yard’s worth of bulk gravel.

To get close to the lower end of that cost, you can opt for options such as sand, crushed concrete, crushed shells, and gravel mix which are around the $15 per cubic yard mark.

You’ll want to avoid more expensive options too. This means veering away from designs including pea gravel and river rock, for example. Yet, even when you opt for cheaper materials, you can still create a gorgeous design.

How Much Gravel Do You Need?

The amount of gravel that you need will depend on the project you’re undertaking. It makes sense that if you’re covering a larger area, you’ll need more gravel.

You’ll want to use a measure of cubic feet rather than square feet in this case. When you’re laying flooring, for example, you’re working on a flat plane, so the measurement of square footage is fine but with gravel, you need to know how deep the pit of gravel will be.

While square footage is calculated by multiplying the length of an area by its width, you can calculate the cubic area with the following equation:

Cubic square footage = length x width x depth

You can find out these measurements by simply using a tape measure in the areas that you want to cultivate.

How Much Does a 50-lb Bag of Gravel Cover?

The answer to this depends on the type and size of gravel in the bag. For example, let’s take a look at pea gravel.

If you have a 50-pound bag of pea gravel, you can cover about 0.5 cubic feet of space. So, for every two 50-pound bags of pea gravel that you have, you can cover a full cubic foot of space.

It’s important to note that the bag you’re looking at might have a line on it that’s fairly misleading. If you see that a bag of pea gravel promises to cover a certain amount of square footage, there’s an element to the project missing.

Remember, square footage is calculated using lengths and width. Cubic footage accounts for depth – an important measurement when it comes to gravel. As such, always rely on the fact that a 50-pound bag of pea gravel will cover 0.5 cubic feet not specific square footage.

Landscape Fabric Under Gravel

You can use fabric under gravel for a few different reasons. For one, it gives you a flat surface to start laying gravel on without your rocks sinking into the dirt. In addition, fabric beneath your gravel can offer extra benefits such as preventing weeds.

To lay down landscape fabric under gravel, you’ll want to start by removing about three or four inches of soil. After you’ve created this surface, you can lay down the fabric and then start to lay down your gravel.

You will want to make sure you anchor the fabric in place – don’t just rely on the weight of the gravel to hold it down! Instead, make sure to install anchors like landscape staples to hold the fabric in place.

You’ll also want to look for landscaping fabric for this purpose. If you just lay a tarp down, you won’t get the same results.

What to Put Under Gravel to Stop Weeds

One of the best ways to prevent weeds in your gravel backyard is to make sure you use a weed barrier for the landscape fabric underneath where you lay your gravel. This will help prevent weeds from growing up in between the stones.

You can also prevent weeds by thoroughly weeding the area you’re about to lay gravel on before you even lay out your weed barrier.

Combining these two preemptive measures is sure to reduce the struggle you have with weeds in your newly renovated backyard.

For more related designs visit our gallery of gravel patio ideas.

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Written by Veronica - Author

Veronica Pannell is an avid reader and researcher who has been writing about interior design and home improvement since 2018. Her favorite design style is eclectic, and she's always on the lookout for the latest new and exciting design trends.

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  1. Thank you so much for talking about how to prevent weed growth when you work with gravel. Since weeds are a big source of trouble for homeowners with large landscapes, I figured I should do everything I can to prevent them from showing up at all. I’ll take this into account and make sure to mention weed barriers when I work with a landscaping company that does gravel arrangements.

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