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Pea gravel, pea rock, pea pebbles, pea stone, or CM16, is a gravel material made up of small, rounded pebbles that are about the size of a pea (1/8 inch to 3/8 inch). It comes in an array of colors; brown, yellow, gray, red, white, green, and black, among others.

Pea gravel is a versatile material used in a number of landscaping projects; pathways, patios, garden edging, playgrounds, and dog runs. It is permeable but tends to shift a lot since it does not compact well. Excessive shifting can be remedied using edging, ground grids, or pea gravel glue

Pea Gravel Uses

Pea gravel is loved for its versatility and ease of installation. It is thus used for a variety of oriental garden projects. 

It’s low maintenance and only requires occasional raking and weeding to keep the surface pristine. 

When used for playgrounds, safety guidelines should be followed when using pea gravel. For decorative purposes, a 3/8-inch screened rock is recommended while smaller sizes like 1/8 inch are ideal for pathways. One ton of 3/8 or 3/4-inch pebbles can cover slightly over 100 sq ft of ground at a 2-inch depth, while one cubic yard of the same material can cover 120 sq ft in a 2-inch layer.

Pea Gravel Drawbacks

There are drawbacks to each paving material, including pea gravel.

One significant issue is that it does not compact well and thus has a tendency to shift and for patio furniture to sink into it. This is best mitigated using a binding agent or resin to stabilize the gravel. Consider using cinder blocks or other supportive elements under furniture placed on loose material.

Pea gravel makes snow removal difficult

Where to buy pea gravel

Pea gravel can be purchased at home improvement stores like Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and Menard’s, as well as smaller garden supply stores and stone yards. The pea gravel can be bagged or bought in bulk.

For bulk orders, go to a pit/quarry or stone yard/rockery as they are a lot cheaper. 

Before you buy, ensure the pea gravel is rounded river pebbles about the size of a pea, rather than crushed rock or irregular river rock.

Installing Pea Gravel

Epoxies, glues, or binders are great at creating stable surfaces. By binding the gravel, you prevent it from shifting and eliminate the need for constant weeding. 

Mix in the binder in a wheelbarrow as per the guidelines. Excavate about 5 to 6 inches of soil and lay down heavy-duty landscape fabric to prevent the gravel from mixing with the soil. Next, add a layer of clean, open-graded crushed rock or crushed concrete, about 2 to 3 inches deep as a base layer to provide structure. Then, cover the subgrade layer with 2 to 3 inches of pea gravel.

Cleaning the pea gravel reveals its vibrant colors and makes them pop. 

To prevent loose gravel (without a binder) from shifting, use edging around the perimeter or ground grids below the pea gravel. Edging options include pressure-treated wood, composite bender board, stone or brick, or metal edging. Edging also helps to define your surface.

Additionally, you can add pavers or natural stones as stepping stones to prevent disturbing the pea gravel.

Overall, pea gravel; a fantastic material. Whether you’re a landscaper, gardener, or DIY enthusiast, pea gravel is a great option that is both affordable and easy to work with

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

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