Garden gravel ideas: 11 brilliant ways to use these small stones in your landscaping plans

From paths to patios, garden gravel ideas are a practical and attractive choice for any plot – these looks will have you inspired

garden gravel ideas in Wuhan Water Garden designed by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018
(Image credit: Neil Hepworth/RHS)

Ready to update your plot this season? These garden gravel ideas are a great option to consider. Low-maintenance and budget-friendly, with lots of colors and sizes to choose from, gravel is a simple way of giving your space a boost.

Gravel can be used for all manner of landscaping ideas, from pathways and rockeries to adding textural interest in-between paving. It's easy to overlook this stony material, but once you start thinking about its versatility, you'll soon wonder why you never used gravel in your back (or front) yard before.

We've curated a collection of some of our favorite garden gravel ideas for you to peruse. No matter the theme of your plot – modern, cottage, traditional or eclectic, you'll be sure to find a style to suit you below.

1. Use gravel for circular seating zones

round traditional gravel garden with chairs

Classic styles work well with garden gravel ideas

(Image credit: Andreas von Einsiedel/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images)

When it comes to landscaping, circular shapes have a soothing appeal. And, as demonstrated here, they work especially well in courtyards. Not only do they provide a central feature to the space, but they also distract the eye from looking upwards to high and imposing walls. 

Pale-hued gravel is a great choice for a design like this, as it will help to lift the area and make it seem lighter and brighter. Here, it also complements the contemporary chairs and wall. Reclaimed bricks laid into a pattern make a decorative contrast to the display and add an extra dose of pizzazz.

We also love the worn brick border around the perimeter which defines the zone and the surrounding evergreen shrubs whilst adding a rustic feel. Our garden edging ideas are full of stunning designs if you're looking for more inspiration.

2. Integrate garden gravel ideas with your patio

patio with wooden seating and gravel

This outdoor space from Homebase demonstrates how garden gravel ideas can be used to create a sleek and chic seating zone

(Image credit: Homebase)

If you want to give your paving ideas a more textural and naturalistic edge, then incorporating gravel is the way forward. A warm-toned mix looks lovely when combined with honey-hued fences. 

To keep the look feeling modern, opt for a paler shade of paving and use plenty of clean lines. Light-colored patio furniture will add to the pleasing sense of contrast and tie together the scene.

Embrace the opportunity to get creative with the design for a playful touch, as seen above. And why not try adding larger rocks as focal points? Meanwhile, accents of green foliage will soften the overall look and offer a refreshing boost of green.

3. Fill the space below floating furniture

floating seat above white gravel

Gravel can add extra visual interest when covering a space where grass won't grow

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

There are tons of fabulous outdoor seating ideas to suit a garden. But, built-in, 'floating' furniture has to be one of our favorites, especially for more contemporary plots.

However, with styles like this it's easy to forget about the space beneath. It's often too shady to cover with verdant lawn, so instead, it can risk turning into a lacklustre patch of neglected dirt. This, naturally, can spoil the overall effect. 

An easy and low-maintenance solution is to add garden gravel ideas in a white or light grey tone. This will help to brighten the space. Pair with white cushions on the seating above for a sense of harmony.

4. Mix with Corten steel for stylish steps

garden gravel ideas in Wuhan Water Garden designed by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Integrate steps with your garden gravel ideas, as seen in the Wuhan Water Garden, designed by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

(Image credit: Neil Hepworth/RHS)

Corten steel is another one of our top picks for landscaping. With its rich rusted patina and hardwearing nature, it makes a fabulous choice for edging, raised beds, screens – you name it. 

Pair with gravel and you've got a dream combo for your garden steps ideas, especially if you go for a unique structure like this. Ornamental grasses and small ferns dotted throughout the scene will add an extra dose of texture, movement, and color.

5. Weave a gravel walkway through ornamental grass

garden gravel ideas in the grass garden at RHS Wisley

Gravel provides a laid-back walkway through the grass garden at RHS Wisley

(Image credit: Joanna Kossak/RHS)

Speaking of ornamental grasses, this garden above has got us swooning. The tall plants are wonderfully structural with their wispy clouds of seed heads. And, a gravel path is a well-suited choice for weaving through the scene, due to its informal look.

A bright blue bench is used for a striking focal point. Plus, it offers the perfect place to sit, relax, and enjoy the soothing rustles in the breeze. Want to recreate the look in your own backyard? Our guide on how to grow ornamental grasses is a great place to start.

6. Create a decorative pathway

decorative gravel pathway lined with lavender leading to front door

Use garden gravel ideas for your front garden path and make a striking first impression

(Image credit: Andreas von Einsiedel/Alamy Stock Photo)

Yes, gravel garden ideas are wonderful for informal paths. But, walkways made from this material can also look rather smart. This is particularly the case if they're given a neat border in a contrasting color, to keep the lines well-defined. 

If you want to take the look one step further, then a decorative pattern will make a striking impression. And, as demonstrated above, it's a gorgeous choice for the walkway to your front door. Line with lavender to bring a vivid shot of purple to the scene as well as a soothing fragrance – bliss.

If you're looking for a refresh, our garden path ideas have plenty more inspiration.

7. Go for a monochrome scheme

log store with white gravel and potted tree

Mix white garden gravel ideas with black features for a modern look

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Charcoal black tones are so on-trend right now, offering a moody and industrial vibe to a plot. So, if you've embraced the look, perhaps for a shed or your garden storage ideas, then consider using white gravel alongside for a chic and monochromatic style.

The mix in this set-up uses a larger-sized stone, which gives a more tactile finish. It also, and we think you'll agree, looks rather striking against the jumble of logs above – providing a textural feast for the eyes.

8. Surround a water feature

sunken gravel garden with water feature

We adore this giant water bowl and its stony surroundings

(Image credit: Ian Thwaites/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you like the idea of bringing levels into your plot, then take a cue from the scene above. This sunken space feels soothing and serene – perfect for a quiet moment of calm reflection. 

The pale-toned, fine-textured gravel mix allows the central water bowl to take the spotlight. It also ties in beautifully with the surrounding circular stone wall, which effortlessly doubles up as a bench.

Feeling inspired? Our water feature ideas gallery has lots more lovely designs.

9. Mix it up for a creative look

patterned gravel in garden

Mix and match colors for an artsy look

(Image credit: Jonathan Need/Alamy Stock Photo)

Fancy making a bolder statement with your garden gravel ideas? Try opting for a range of different colors and sizes and get creative with patterns and forms. 

You don't have to fill a huge space in this way for it to be effective – even a small pocket of your patio or pathway will make for an interesting feature. Consider the nearby plants too – we love how this Ophiopogon planiscapus (black mondo grass) mirrors the inky-toned pebbles nearby.

10. Go for a serene and minimal vibe

minimal gravel courtyard with olive tree

A square of pale gravel lets the olive tree take center stage

(Image credit: Pete Starman/The Image Bank/Getty Images)

Minimalism will always have a place in contemporary gardens, where fussy features are a no-go. As shown above, garden gravel ideas make it easy to achieve a pared-down look. 

A neat square of stones, punctuated with the odd burst of creeping foliage, creates a cool and calming border for an architectural olive tree. An understated backdrop will offer a natural canvas for gorgeous shadow patterns throughout the day. 

We will always love an olive for its silvery leaves and attractive shape, but there are plenty more best trees for small gardens if you're looking for an alternative.

11. Create a rockery

gravel garden with plants and large stones

A rock garden is full of texture and color and is low-maintenance, too

(Image credit: John Glover/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're a fan of our small rock garden ideas then gravel is definitely one to add to your landscaping scheme. 

Why not transform an entire area of your garden into a rocky haven, like the scene above? Or, simply recreate the look in a raised bed or planter if space is at a premium. In terms of plants, there are plenty of beautiful varieties that will thrive in these conditions. Look for those that are drought-tolerant and like plenty of drainage. Alpine plants, succulents, and coastal varieties are all reliable choices.

Large, smooth pebbles add a sculptural finishing touch to this scene, especially when contrasted against spiky foliage nearby.

How do you secure gravel?

blue bench on pale gravel

A soothing space to rest – designed by The London Gardener

(Image credit: The London Gardener)

Want to know how to secure your garden gravel, so that your path or seating space doesn't go awry? Take a look at these tips:

  1. Start by clearing the area where you want to lay your gravel. Dig up any weeds and flatten the soil.
  2. Then, set a waterproof membrane down, recommends the experts at Homebase. This will prevent weeds from growing up through your gravel, and will help you achieve cleaner edges, they add.
  3. Once you've added your gravel, rake it out to make sure it's evenly distributed. It's a good idea to then give the area a rinse down with your best garden hose. This will wash away any dust and get the stones looking their best.
  4. Adding edging to your gravelled area will help to prevent it from escaping into the lawn or flowerbeds.
  5. You can also use Gravel Pave System Packs, Homebase adds, which are hard-wearing interlocking bases that help keep gravel or stones in a set place. This structure is needed if you're using it for a pathway or driveway ideas. Look for recycled plastic types to be kinder to the environment.

What is the cheapest gravel for landscaping?

white gravel and wooden stepping stones

White, larger-stoned gravel garden ideas can be a little pricier than other mixes, but makes a lovely contrast against wooden stepping stones

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Generally, the larger the stones in your gravel mix, the higher the costs. According to Homebase, pea gravel tends to be the cheapest. This is a small-stoned mix (you guessed it – each the size of a pea), in a range of warm-toned colors such as buff, honey, and grey.

Crushed marble comes in at $35 to $85 per yard, according to HomeGuide.com. Larger river rocks will cost up to around $70 per yard and slate chips can cost up to $80.

Meanwhile, white and black gravel mixes are more at the pricey end, at around $130 per yard. Quartz gravel is also a premium choice, coming in at around $150 per yard.