Welcome to our gallery of gravel backyard ideas including types of gravel, sizes, cost and design pictures.
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
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 gravel types.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
Gravel Backyard Designs
This beautiful backyard design offers a paver patio with fire pit surrounded by pea gravel and desert landscaping.
Using gravel to create a desert landscape is ideal for those wanting a low maintenance backyard.
Backyard gravel sitting area with daybeds.
Sloped hill with gravel landscaping and flagstone path to sitting area.
Gravel with desert landscaping next to lawn area.
Backyard with gravel surrounding garden planter boxes.
Drought resistant plants inside wood planter boxes.
Gravel backyard with large poured concrete steps to hot tub with custom wood sitting bench.
Palm tree with decorative design and drought resistant plants.
Outdoor dining area with concrete pavers.
Modern home backyard with gravel and desert landscaping.
Gravel Around Pool
Since gravel can provide excellent drainage it is frequently used under and around swimming pools.
Swimming pool with crushed gravel.
Gravel and rock can be combined to create a dry river that creates an appealing desert scene.
Small swimming pool with river rock border followed by gravel landscaping.
Gravel Backyard with Water Features
Rock water fall with large stone border.
This large water feature pond with water fall has tropical plants a large gravel perimeter.
Custom rock Koi pond with gravel design.
Rock water feature with gravel.
Small rock pond with gravel and flagstone stepping stones.
This outdoor water fountain has a small gravel area for sitting.
Gravel Sitting Area
A gravel sitting area is ideal for those looking to build an inexpensive DIY design without spending a lot of time and energy.
This gravel sitting area features a swinging bench to take in the forest views.
Gravel with mulch border.
This wood privacy wall with custom DIY wood benches makes for a cozy spot around the rustic stone fire pit.
Outdoor dining area with rustic wood table and chairs.
This inexpensive DIY gravel sitting area is an easy way to create a backyard space for relaxing and enjoying the views.
Japanese Gravel Garden
This relaxing soaking tub overlooks a serene Japanese gravel garden with bamboo fence.
This backyard garden area has a distinctly Japanese style with wooden bridges over a circular dry gravel river bed.
This raked Japanese gravel garden with large stepping stones provides a peaceful and relaxing ambiance.
This alluring Japanese garden offers a flagstone path with gravel landscaping and lighting.
This gravel path has a wood border with Japanese decor.
Gravel Backyard with Golf Putting Green
A gravel backyard with artificial grass putting green go hand in hand as both are perfect for arid environments and create a low maintenance drought tolerant backyard.
This small putting green along with colorful flowering plants helps to add a little bit of color to this design.
Flagstone and Gravel Path
Gravel pathway with flagstone steps to circular sitting area.
Close up picture of path with flagstones and rock border.
Red gravel landscape with flagstone path to lawn area.
Gravel backyard with flagstone path to water feature fountain with small pond.
Gravel and flagstone patio with path around side of house.
Gravel and flagstone sitting area around fire pit with pathway.
Dry Creek Bed
A dry creek bed in your yard can resemble a real dried up river and the space a natural feel. In addition, a gravel or river rock dry creek can be effective for channeling excess water flow out of your yard. If you have natural channels where water typically flows they can be a good place to build a dry creek bed to enhance the look.
- To get started you should mark out the areas to create the shape of your creek bed. Creating a design with curves will help it resemble a natural feature.
- Then you will want to dig within the area marked up to 8 inches in depth. Keep the soil handy to reuse for building up the sides.
- After digging compact the soil to make it firm and flat.
- Add landscape fabric to line the entire area to prevent weeds from growing. This will also help prevent the rocks from sinking in to the dirt.
- Cover the area with 1/2 pea gravel which makes a good base layer.
- Start filling in the area with largest rocks first. Try placing large rocks along bends and in places sporadically to get a more natural look.
- Fill in the remainder of the dry creek bed with any kind of rocks you desire from pea gravel to river rocks.
This dry creek bed design uses uniform rock throughout with aluminum edging to keep it all in place, and surrounded by gravel.
Gravel Fire Pit
The best rocks to use around a gravel fire pit are harder& denser materials such as granite, slate or marble. You can also safely use lava rocks, lava glass, poured concrete and fire rated bricks for fire pit designs.
This low cost DIY gravel design creates an inviting sitting area with a small fire pit as the focal point.
Fire rated clay bricks make great DIY custom fire pits.
Rustic low maintenance design with wood border and concrete block retaining walls.
Lava rock backyard with custom globe fire pit.
Circular fire pit with paver patio and semi-circle gravel sitting area with Adirondack chairs.
Rather than use gravel this flagstone fire pit design is ringed by river rock.
This DIY fire pit area can be constructed using a clay brick border, crushed granite gravel and a circular fire rated pavers kit.
A paver patio around a fire pit can provide a stable sitting area. You can cut landscaping costs by surrounding the remainder of the space in crushed gravel.
For more related designs visit our gallery of gravel patio ideas.