Gravel is defined as rocks ranging in size from 1/8 inch to 1 ½ inch. Gravel takes on two forms: man-made crushed gravel with irregular edges or nature-made river rock that is rounded. Versatile, gravel creates a clean, subtle landscape addition that fits into both formal and casual settings. By conforming to the shape of the land, gravel fits into curving, sweeping gardens or straight and narrow driveways.
Create a meandering gravel path among the landscape to connect areas of the yard together such as a front-yard entrance with a backyard patio. Gravel makes a stable and easily walkable surface that conforms to the shape of the landscape and helps to transition between the home and outdoor garden.
For a walking path and one that allows gardening equipment to easily fit, create a 3-foot wide path using crushed gravel. When laying the gravel close to flowerbeds or gardens, flank the gravel with large stones like rivers rocks to help transition from bare soil to the gravel path. Adding a river rock edge also helps to create a surface for surrounding plants to cascade over, creating a striking landscape design. Because it quickly drains and never creates puddles after a hard rain, crushed gravel is ideal for paths. Keep the gravel path looking tidy by raking the path when needed.
Fill in empty spaces of the landscape with a gravel ground cover. Gravel ground cover is ideal in areas of the garden that are not suitable for plants and where you want a low-maintenance space. Gravel creates a tended look to wild areas where weeds constantly sprout up to create a messy look to the landscape.
For a rock garden ground cover, spread the gravel over the desired space and rake to a smooth surface. For a subtle design, use gray gravel, the common variety. For a bit of color, mix in darker gravel with black and blue colors. Crushed granite, a finer texture of gravel, can be mixed with natural or man-made gravel to create a visually appealing design. Add succulent- and cactus-filled containers over the gravel ground cover to complete the look and create an unfussy garden design.
Creating a courtyard using gravel is an affordable way to landscape an entry or backyard space to create a separate area for living and dining outdoors. Gravel courtyards outlined with low-growing perennials like blue star creeper helps to create a striking edge to the courtyard and one that adds burst of low color to the space. Large plants like elephant ear planted around the courtyard bring height to the garden and help envelop the space for a privacy screen. Taro elephant ear, a large and open shrub variety, has green, heart-shaped leaves that grow up to 84-inches tall to bring in a jungle feel to the gravel courtyard. Add an outdoor patio set over the gravel courtyard.