When it comes to landscaping and driveways, gravel remains to be a top choice because of its inexpensiveness. Aside from this, it is very workable, can be mixed and matched, plus, it comes in an array of size, shape, color, and texture. But just because they are all gravel does not mean that they have the same effect on your landscape or driveway.
If you are looking for ways to make your landscape or driveway natural looking, here are some types of gravel that you should know. Some of their basic descriptions are mentioned as well as their most common uses.
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What is gravel?
Gravel is basically just the aggregate product of various rock fragments. It is coarser than sand and comes in different shapes and sizes. It is often mixed as aggregate components of construction materials such as cement or asphalt.
On its own, it is used in landscape, road construction, and in making pathways and driveways. Sizes of gravel range from granule to boulder sizes. The most popular type of gravel is pea gravel.
As have been said, gravel does not come in a generic form and the following would be the different gravel sizes for your reference:
- Fine gravel: 2-6.3mm
- Medium gravel: 6.4-20mm
- Coarse gravel: 21-63mm
When it comes to driveways and other road works, the size of the gravel to be used very much matters because it determines the layer where it will be incorporated. For instance, top fills of gravel would be composed of fine gravel while the middle and base layer would be made up of medium to coarse grade gravel.
What is gravel used for?
We all know that gravel is an important ingredient in the construction industry but in this list, you would find out that its use goes beyond just concrete aggregates, roadworks, and infrastructure.
- Drainage: Gravel and its varying shapes and sizes, easily provide spaces where excess water and moisture could easily escape. As such, it is also good for erosion control.
- Roads and driveways: It is a versatile, durable, and cost-effective aggregate material for driveways, curbs, and roads, in general.
- Landscaping: More than its draining ability, gravel is also used as inorganic mulch for many landscapes and gardens. It is also used as border material, edging, or as an accent piece to improve the aesthetic appeal of landscapes and gardens.
Types of gravel for driveways and landscaping
There are more than 15 types of gravel for driveways and landscaping alone but in this list, some of the most used types of gravels for different home improvement projects are featured. You would find here the composition of each type of gravel as well as their common uses.
1. Aquarium gravel
While it is named as such, this gravel type is not just limited to fish tanks or aquariums. It is also used as a substrate to naturally filter water in the home’s water features and in other water systems around.
Related: 10+ Awesome Backyard Aquarium Ideas
2. Bank gravel
This one is a hybrid gravel, and it is well-loved because of its high, water draining capacity. Its ability to avoid soil erosion allows landscape plants to grow into it because they can easily take root without disruptions.
It is considered a hybrid gravel since it is made from the mix of clay, dirt, large, and small gravel with a bit of sand. It is usually used in filling area gaps in the landscape and to act as substrate for concrete.
3. Base Gravel #3
As the name suggests, this one is also mostly used for driveways, specifically the base surface. As a matter of fact, it is considered as the best gravel type to be used for driveway bases. Technically, base gravel #3 is a type of crushed stone but it is larger in size, often reaching 2-inches in diameter.
4. Crimson stone
As the name implies, this one is a decorative gravel type with red, orange, and sometimes black or grey hints. It provides a beautiful contrast in any landscape or garden. As such, you would usually find this gravel type among commercial establishments and residential yards.
5. Crushed stone
This one is a combination of coarse sand and small rocks. It is durable, inexpensive, and very versatile. There are various types of crushed stones to choose from in terms of color and texture.
It is mostly used for driveways and for landscaping too, thanks to their high draining capacity. Crushed stones are classified in terms of their sizes and the most common ones would be these below.
6. Crushed stone #411
A finer and smaller variant of crushed stone would be the #411. It is the mix of the #57 and the dust of coarse stone. It is used to fill the first layer of driveways because it creates a firm and stable surface for all types of vehicles.
7. Crushed stone #57
This is the most famous type of crushed stone. It is identifiable for its angled appearance, making it a good material for landscape drainage. It is also beneficial in keeping the rocks from sticking. It is often used as aggregate for concrete and is often poured as the second layer for natural driveways.
8. Decomposed Granite
This gravel type is one of the frontline choices when it comes to creating a rustic vibe landscape or garden. It is also a common scene in xeriscapes or in desert gardens as it is used as topdressing for trees and shrubs. In walkways, it is notable for its reddish-tan color. This one is made from weathered granite pieces.
9. Dense Grade
This one is one of the three best rated gravel types for driveways. It is also called dense grade aggregate or road stone. Like the quarry process stone, it is made of crushed stone and stone dust. The crushed stone part of it is usually made of granite-gneiss, limestone, trap rock or any combination of these three.
It has a high binding capacity, which creates a solid surface once it is compacted. However, it does not have the most beautiful look and it also does not offer a good drainage ability for wet and wintry climates.
10. Item #4
This one is mainly used in driveways. It is the product of combining crushed stone, sand, and dirt. It comes in many subtypes which are made with different materials including rocks, bricks, crushed bluestone, limestone, grey, gravel, and recycled concrete.
Its shape, size, texture and consistency make it a prime choice for the first layer of the driveway.
11. Pea gravel
This is by far the most inexpensive type of gravel used as an aggregate material to roads and driveways as well as in concrete. For landscaping, it offers texture, color, and a grainy feel to a landscape because of its chipped and rounded stone combo.
It is also used for garden pathways and around plants for its drainage. It gets its name for its pea size (just 4-10mm).
12. Quarry Process stone
It is also known as crusher stone, QP or shoulder stone. This one is made from the combination of crushed stone (particularly limestone, granite, or top rock) and stone dust. It is mostly used for the driveways, specifically as first layer filling, because of its known versatility and durability.
However, if you intend to use this type of gravel, you must ensure that the mid part of the driveway is raised while the sides lie low for greater drainage ability.
13. River rock
This one is considered as the largest and most popular type of gravel as it consists of beach, creek, and river stones. They are all eroded stones and are commonly used in landscaping, specifically in edging and as accent stones, because of their soft surface and multi-color tones. Aside from this, river rocks are also used lining water fixtures, creeks, and ponds because of their good drainage capacity.
14. Lava stone
They come in red and black colors, and each is used differently. As the term implies, it is made of calcified lava. It is usually used as decorative ground cover or border/accent stones for gardens.
Crushed red lava rocks serve as inorganic mulch for many xeriscapes and desert gardens while black lava stones are added to landscapes for their contrast and texture.
This one is the by-product of sifted sand. They are very small, measuring to just 5-10mm. It has a coarse texture, and it is mainly used in landscaping where dust must be controlled. It is also used in construction where the same benefit is needed.
16. Stone dust
It is considered as the finest crushed stone and goes by the name stone screenings. It is mostly mixed with concrete, but it could also be spread out in driveways on its own.
Stone dust is a favorite filling for driveways because it makes a firm surface plus it is water resistant. It is also a perfect binding agent for larger stones, asphalt, and cement. The main upside is that it would not let any weed emerge from the driveway.
17. Washed clean stone
In texture, it highly resembles crushed stone. But it has a greater visual appeal because it has cleaner tones. As it comes in many sizes, the finer ones are often used as filling for the driveway’s top layer while the small to medium sized ones are for the second layer.
18. White Marble Chips
This one is used for walkways, pathways, and driveways. Aside from being a durable ground cover, a lot of homeowners and contractors also love its sparkling effect and gray streaks that give a lot of sophisticated look. On the functional side, it lessens the heat on concrete driveways.
But since they have the same size as pea gravel, they must be edged if you are considering using it for your driveway. You should also be prepared for the cost since it is more expensive than the others.
19. Yellow “Jersey Shore” Gravel
If you have been around New England and have seen their outskirts roads and driveways, you have probably seen the Jersey shore gravel. It is like the beach sand as it is composed of fine gold, tan, and yellow stones.
It resembles pea gravel in terms of size. It is used mainly for aesthetic purposes. If used for driveways, it would require driveway edging for it to remain intact.
If you are looking for other decorative gravel types for landscapes or those that would be beautiful edging stones for driveways as well as in pathways and walkways, here are some few honorable mentions:
- Slate gravel
- Navajo sandstone
- Piedmont gravel
- Lag gravel
Tips in laying gravel in driveway and landscape
While selecting the size and texture of the gravel is important in ensuring that you get the best out of them for your driveway and landscape, there are still other factors to consider. With this, here are some useful tips in laying gravel in the landscape or driveway.
- Prepare the laying ground well: Until the driveway or landscape is not yet fully done, do not lay gravel on it yet. Make sure that all types of debris, weed and grass are eliminated in the landscape. As for the driveway, make sure that the topsoil is already off the base.
- Ensure good drainage: No driveway or landscape would be fine without good drainage. Sure, the gravel would help but too much water puddling cannot be absorbed immediately, leading to driveway and landscape damage in the long run.
- Edging and borders: Gravel cannot stand alone without edging or border because they are usually small in size, and the elements could wash them away. Aside from this, some gravel types are more unstable than others and if you want a solid walkway, pathway, or driveway to let your feet and cars cruise on, go for durable edging and borders.
- Ask a contractor: To get the best shape and size to use and most importantly, to make the most informed decision about what type of gravel to choose, it always pays to ask a dependable driveway or landscaping contractor to guide you.
Note that just because you know the types of gravel would mean that you can easily make a concerted choice as to what would go best in your landscape or driveway. Take these four uncomplicated tips in mind for you to get the best results for your gravel use.
How much does gravel cost?
Notwithstanding the different types of gravel, the average cost of gravel per yard would be at $60, including delivery and spreading. But if you are not considering the delivery fee and the labor cost of having it spread, per bag it would cost $3-8 and $10-50 per ton. Using this as basis, it would mean that laying gravel in the following spaces would have the following costs:
- 4×20 walkway or garden: $100-300
- 10×20 landscaping or patio: $250-750
- 1-car gravel driveway: $300-1000
- 12×100 gravel road: $600-1500
Aside from the types of gravel at hand, there is also other useful information that you should know about. Hence, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about gravel that you can use as future reference.
What is Type 2 gravel?
Technically, a type 2 gravel is made from the assortment of crushed 1 ½ to 2 ½ stones and then processed using a screen size of 3-inches. These stone assortments could be limestone, tap rock or granite.
In construction, a type 2 gravel is used as a construction aggregate for road works that are made of asphalt and concrete. If used without a binder, you would find it in road bases. But when combined with a binder, type 2 gravel is used for any cement and asphalt work including highways and residential/non-residential infrastructures.
For landscaping and other domestic uses, the type 2 gravel is often used in landscapes, gravel driveways, in water filtering systems, dry wells, riprap projects, as well as for horticultural purposes.
How deep should I lay gravel?
This one depends on how you intend to use your gravel. Here are some exact figures to refer to when you are laying gravel for different purposes or projects.
- Decorative purposes: 0.5-2 inches
- Gravel patio: 5-inches
- Pathways: 4-inches
- Drainage: 0.5-1-inch
- Garden: 1.5-3-inches
- Driveway: 4-6-inches
Do you need landscape fabric under gravel?
It is not required but you would find that it is a useful addition to gravel laying. A landscape fabric is essential in making sure that weed germination is stopped. Of course, it does not mean to say that no weed shall ever set root in a gravel driveway or landscape ever again. However, having a layer of barrier to prevent them from establishing roots would always be a good idea.
How many yards in a ton of gravel?
To compute this, you must first know that one ton of gravel is equal to 2000lbs. Now, convert that to cubic yards. For manual computation, that would be 2000/2800. From there, you would get 0.714. Thus, there are 0.714 cubic yards for every ton of gravel.
How much does a yard of gravel weigh?
At an average, one cubic yard of gravel is said to weigh between 2400-3000lbs. When converted into more relatable standards of measurement, a yard of gravel would weigh one and a half tons.
Can cement be added to a gravel driveway?
You can but it is not recommended for small gravel driveways. If the space is narrow and contained, the gravel would remain intact. As long as they are an inch and finer, having them remain intact in the driveway surface should not be a problem.
Can I paint a gravel driveway?
If you cannot find the best gravel mix for you and decide to just paint the gravel driveway, do so with just acrylic paints. So, as far as gravel is concerned, the answer to this question is yes, you can paint a gravel driveway.
Do I need to lay gravel under pavers?
No, it is not required because pavers could also be laid using mortar or just over dirt. However, laying gravel under pavers does have its wonders. One, the gravel will inhibit the stones from sinking, hence, allowing drainage or for water to escape. Other than that, it is also a good choice if you want your surface to be free from winter heaves.
Why should I salt my gravel driveway?
You might think of this as illogical but salting your gravel driveway actually reinforces your driveway from weed and grass growth for the years to come. Just a word of caution though, salt can also damage nearby plants with salt sensitivity.
When rainwater floods the driveway, it could bring that salt content elsewhere like in the plants so you still have to salt your gravel driveway sparingly.
How do you keep the gravel in the driveway?
To re-establish gravel spread in the gravel driveway, it is recommended that it should be ‘plowed’ by a tractor once or twice a year. You can also try re-graveling the driveway once every two to three years to maintain that dense base.
But if you do not see yourself resorting to this intervention every now and then, consider putting gravel edging or stone borders, wood chips, stone pavers, railroad ties and other materials for landscape/driveway bordering to keep all the gravel in place.
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Gravel is an all-around material and for that reason alone, it must be known more beyond surface level. It is easy to dismiss the types of gravel thinking that you would not need it in the future. The truth is, gravel is not just an essential aggregate component of construction but is also used a lot in landscaping and in making durable, cost-effective driveways.
It is important for us to know the differences, various sizes, shapes, hues, and composition of different types of gravel because each would have their strengths and weaknesses depending on where they are needed. But now that you know where the differences lie, you can now make a more calculated choice for the type of gravel to buy based on your needs.