5 Steps To Lay Gravel On Soil Correctly

Creating a gravel garden is an easy way to keep down on weeds and ensure that your space stays beautiful with little maintenance. 

Once you follow a few rules to think about the kind of plants that will flourish in a gravel garden and learn how to lay gravel on soil, you’re on your way to completing the process like a pro.

You’ll need to do some prep work to get the soil area ready, choose the best kind of gravel for your purposes, and edge an outside border to keep weeds out. 

Check out these 5 simple steps to lay gravel on soil correctly. 

What You’ll Need

  • A shovel 
  • A metal garden rake 
  • A tamper tool 
  • A wheelbarrow
  • Landscape fabric or weed membrane
  • Edging material such as bricks, metal strips, or plastic edging
  • Gravel

5 Simple Steps to Lay Gravel on Soil Correctly

1. Pick the Right Plants

The first step all depends on if you’re planning to lay soil on gravel to create a garden, a path, or some other kind of outdoor space.

If you want to use gravel over soil beds to keep down weeds in a flower or plant garden, keep in mind that not every kind of plant thrives in a gravel garden. 

The good news is that these are the top plants that do well: 

  • Aloe
  • Cacti
  • Daisies
  • Feather grass
  • Iris
  • Lavender
  • Lilies 
  • Rock Roses 
  • Thyme
  • Yucca

If these plants don’t fit your intentions or taste, try checking with an expert at a local nursery or gardening center for more information on other kinds of plants that will thrive in gravel.

2. Prepare the Ground

First, you’ll need to clear the space where you want to lay gravel.

Unless the area already consists of bare soil, use your shovel to clear out all the existing grass, weeds, and plants in the area.

If there are any garden plants that you want to save, you can replant them in your gravel garden or near your gravel paths. 

Once you’ve cleared the ground, dig into the soil several times to break up large clumps of earth and stimulate the soil’s top layer. 

Next, use the rake to comb over the soil. Pick out and remove any rocks, plants, or debris that remain.

If the space doesn’t have good drainage, add some coarse sand to the soil to help it filter water better.

Till some fertilizer or compost into the soil before moving to the next step. Rake the surface until it is smooth and level. 

3. Dig and Edge the Border

Whether you’re laying gravel on the soil to create a path or a gravel garden, always ensure that you dig a border outside the intended gravel area.

This will help keep grass and weeds from encroaching on your gravel paths or beds. 

The idea is to dig a border that is several inches deep and around four inches across.

This keeps the garden or path separate from the grass, other flower beds, or a patio area for low-maintenance and aesthetic structure. 

You can line the border with bricks or use plastic or metal edging to secure the edges of the gravel areas.

This will also give your garden a more finished look. 

Once you’ve finished, place weed membrane (not plastic sheets) landscape material down over the whole area and nail it down with large stones, weights, or garden staples.

If you plan for your garden to self-seed, then just skip this step.

4. Choose the Gravel

Before you can lay gravel on soil correctly, you will need to research the kind of gravel you want and how much of it to buy. 

First, measure the space to determine how much you’ll need. Some gardens aren’t a standard size, so you can measure the length and width around the space to get a proper idea.

In general, if you have a 10-square-foot space that you plan to cover two inches deep in normal-sized gravel, you will need about 90 pounds of 1-inch-sized gravel. 

Avoid using gravel that’s too small since this can easily scatter outside the border.

Most people go with crushed stone or slate-colored chips.

Keep in mind that some kinds of gravel have sharp edges that can hurt barefoot children’s and pets’ feet. 


Dark-colored gravel is often a popular choice since paler gravel can wash out and look dull after bleaching in the sun.

5.  Lay the Gravel

After all your prep work, now comes the part where you can shine like a pro.

Once your borders are complete, with rocks in place or metal strip edging buried in the ground, you’ll want to plot out where you want your plants, decorative objects, benches, and any paths.

Make sure to leave enough space between each plant for room to grow.

Once you’ve decided on the layout, use a cutting tool to incise crosses (not holes) through the weed membrane sheets.

Next, dig holes in these cross sections, and plant your plant pots.

Mix in some compost, place the landscape material edges under the plant, and water it. 

Next, haul the gravel in the wheelbarrow to the garden site and use the shovel to spread an even layer of gravel across the membrane, and around your plants, benches, or any other decorative objects. 

Once you cover the entire area with an even layer of gravel, use the rake to level out the area. 

Final Thoughts

If you follow these simple steps before you lay gravel on soil will help you spread it correctly and keep your space nice, neat, and low maintenance for years to come.

Nadine is a passionate gardening writer sharing practical tips, innovative ideas, and valuable insights on plant and soil care, In her spare time, she tries to convince her plants to grow by singing them catchy tunes.

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