Whether you're a keen gardener or a landscape architect, gravel, garden slate and decorative aggregates have been a longstanding favourite for garden design, and have seen a resurgence in recent years in modern landscaping schemes. The use of gravel in the garden has come a long way since the rockeries or alpine gardens of the 1970s, with a wide range of decorative aggregates and stone products now available to use in your garden landscaping.
From traditional gardens to minimalist Japanese planting schemes, slate and decorative gravel continue to be a great way to introduce new colour, texture and the beauty of natural stone to your garden.
Which gravel is best for a driveway or path?
For most decorative applications the choice of aggregate or gravel is purely a question of colour, texture and size, however for paths or driveways there are a few more considerations.
For driveways it is best to select hard, angular chippings between 14 and 20mm in size, such as Long Rake Spar Polar White. Angular stones knit together to form a firm, stable base for vehicles, and chippings above 14mm in size won't get stuck in tyre treads. However, stones above 20mm in size will increase the wear on tyres. Read more in our article on How to Lay a Gravel Driveway or Path here.
For pathways choose an angular stone of between 10 and 20mm such as Long Rake Spar Black Ice or Cotswold Chippings. Angular stones are much easier to walk on than rounded stones, and stones above 10mm in size won't get caught in shoe treads.
Using gravel or slate chippings to dress flowerbeds
Using gravel or slate for ground cover or to dress flowerbeds is a popular use of aggregates in the garden - in addition to looking great they also remove the task of weeding when used with a weed suppressing membrane. Simply lay the weed membrane on the soil, fix into the ground with pegs if necessary then apply a layer of your chosen aggregate.
The advantage of using a membrane is that in addition to suppressing weed growth it also allows free drainage of water, and will prevent your aggregate from sinking over time into the soil.
Slate chippings look particularly effective when used for ground cover on un-planted areas. Try our Welsh black/grey slate chippings or Welsh plum slate chippings for a clean, minimalist look suitable for modern garden design schemes. If you are planting through slate, try foliage plants such as grasses and ferns to complete the minimalist look.
Top tip - slate chippings tend to come in either 20mm or 40mm sizes. Smaller chippings will give a more even, continuous dressed layer. Larger chippings give a more decorative look, but will provide less overall coverage by weight as the chippings are thicker.
To plant into an area of gravel, simply clear a patch of the aggregate and cut a cross in the membrane, dig a hole and add the plant, then fold the membrane around the plant (folding under if necessary) and re-cover with the aggregate. If you're applying decorative aggregate to an already planted bed, cut the membrane into pieces to form a continuous patchwork around the plants (pegs make this a lot easier) then dress with your slate or gravel.
Creating a riverbed or even a desert garden area using a combination of natural pebbles and cobbles is another popular use for aggregates in the garden. A combination of different sized stones, such as Scottish Pebbles and Cobbles, creates a natural backdrop perfect for planting with woodland plants and flowers.
Finally, if you're creating a feature near to a fish pond, be careful to avoid lime-containing stones such as marble or limestone chippings as they will leach into the water over time, altering the pH of your pond and harming any fish.
Using gravel for edging
Using decorative aggregates as an edging for a patio, paved pathway or retaining wall is a simple and attractive way to provide additional drainage in the garden. Simply dig a 100mm deep trench along the edge of your structure, line with weed suppressing membrane, then fill with your chosen aggregate.
How much slate, gravel or chippings will I need?
It's difficult to be exact when estimating the quantity of slate or stone chippings required for a project as different shapes and sizes of stone will settle once laid at different depths. For example a quantity of 20mm gravel will give a different depth of coverage to the same weight of slate chippings.
However as a general rule a bulk bag of decorative aggregate (approx 600kg) will cover an area of approximately 7.5m2 at a depth of 50mm. A mini bag (20kg) will cover an area of 0.25m2 at a depth of 50mm.
Ask the experts
For further advice about your garden project don’t hesitate to speak to our friendly and knowledgeable experts at your local AVS Fencing & Landscaping Supplies branch. Our ranges of slate, decorative stones and gravel are available from stock subject to availability, click and collect from your local AVS Branch or home delivery within our AVS Branch delivery area.