Garden Gravel Stones and Ideas

Garden gravel is great for different types of applications in different situations and climates.  In dry climates where irrigating ground-cover would be prohibitive, sometimes nearly all the surface of the garden will be graveled, whereas in wetter climates the ground-cover can more than hold it’s own, and gravel is best suited for walkways and as an aesthetic feature.  In both cases the gravel is a useful gardening implement, as it helps to keep down unwanted weeds and even contain plants you’ve chosen that may be too aggressive for their neighbors otherwise.  To make the gravel even more effective towards this end, often it is preferable to place a fabric ground-cover under the gravel surface.  This will even further reduce the likelihood of weeds or other unwanted seedlings popping up.

There are many different types of garden gravel.  Not only are there differences in the type of stone the gravel is comprised of, but also different shades and hues of the stone, and variation in sizes as well.  Some gravel is comprised of broken stone.  This can result in brilliant colors in the surfaces of the stone, but also sharp edges.  Other types of gravel are from worn rocks, often from streams and rivers where the water has ground them down over centuries, resulting in smooth and round stones or pebbles that can be walked on even barefoot.  The type of gravel that is best for you will depend on many factors, and of course your own sense of aesthetics.

When using garden gravel as a ground cover for portions of your landscaping, it’s important to realize that the gravel is loose and will need to be contained by other materials so that it doesn’t roll and get tracked into areas of the garden which you don’t want gravel in.  Often this is achieved with brick or cement edging to the gravel areas.  Not only does this provide control of where the gravel goes, or rather doesn’t go, it also can be an interesting design feature in it’s own right.  By carefully choosing the colors of materials to contain the gravel to go with the natural colors of the garden gravel, you can create a strikingly beautiful ground-cover or walkway for your garden.

garden stones
Creative Commons Photo from DominosVobiscum

Similar theory and techniques apply to other types of ground cover that often are competing with garden gravel for a place in the garden.  Different types of organic mulches can be used to effectively keep weeds down.  While not as permanent a solution as garden gravel, they can boast other areas where they are superior instead.  While not as good at keeping down weeds, coir mats, bark chips, rice hulls, or even sawdust can do a better job of preserving moisture in the soil, as well as adding organic matter to the soil over time.  If adding organic matter to the soil is important to you, then you’ll need to fore-go a fabric ground cover underneath the mulch, which further reduces it’s abilities to keep down weeds in comparison to garden gravel laid over fabric ground cover.

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