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5 Factors That Impact Landscape Gravel Selection

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Gravel can be an important part of your landscaping. It can be used to pave a patio, drive, or pathway, or you can use it in garden beds and drainage features.

1. Size

Gravel comes in a variety of sizes, with crushed gravel coming in at less than a quarter-inch in size and larger options measuring 3/4 inch per rock or more. Choosing the right size has a lot to do with the installation goal. If you are graveling a driveway, smaller gravel like crushed gravel is often preferred. Between pavers on a patio, pea gravel is popular. Larger sizes of gravel may be used to mulch a rain garden.

2. Color

Natural stone gravel comes in almost every color of the rainbow, so it's easy to pick a color that complements your landscaping or your home. You can go with a complementary color that works with the predominant bloom color in a garden bed, for example, or you may opt for a rich neutral color that complements the color of your house. Keep in mind that darker gravel will create a heat sink, so you may want to go with lighter colors in areas where excess heat can be uncomfortable in the yard.

3. Shape

Some gravel is perfectly round and smooth, while others are deeply angular with sharp edges. Once again, use plays a major part in which type you choose. Round stones don't fit tightly together, which makes them porous. These are good in areas where you want water to drain well, such as in a dry creek or rain garden areas. Angular stones are less prone to movement because the shape helps them lock together. Angular stones work well where gravel is used as paving.

4. Weight

Not all landscaping gravel is heavy. Lightweight rocks, like lava stones and pumice, can actually wash or blow away because they are lightweight. In areas where water erosion from rain or irrigation runoff is an issue, opt for heavier gravel that is less likely to wash out of the bed. You may also want to avoid lighter gravel in areas with high wind exposure.

5. Hardness

Gravel and stone are measured on a hardness scale, but most people don't need to know specifics. The key is to choose gravel that is hard enough to meet its purpose. For example, you don't want to use any softer chalky stones or flaky quartz gravel on a driveway, as driving on it will eventually crush it to dust. These stones are fine for garden beds and landscape accents, though.

Contact a landscape gravel supplier to learn more about all the options available.