Pebble pathway

Novato, CA(Zone 9a)

Can anyone help with a pebble path across the lawn to the arbor(60 feet). I have seen pictures of really lovely ,natural looking paths but my first try is a disaster. Thank goodness it is in a less important area of the garden. It is too deep apparently, because it shifts as you walk. Shall I throw dirt in and water it down to help keep it in place? Help. I don't want to have a mud hole this winter. Thanks. I have 5 yards of 3/8 inch pebble sitting in the front and I don't want to mess this up.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I don't know how deep you've got it, or how deep is "too deep". A few inches (less than 4") shouldn't be too deep.

To get it to really settle down you may need to rent a "tamper" that will help compress it so the gravel doesn't shift when you walk. You could also try using stone dust to fill in the gaps between the gravel, depending on how available it is in your area. I would hesitate against using dirt, as it may create a pretty good mud spot when it gets wet, and it's nicer for those using the path if it stays fairly "clean" even when it's wet.

Either way, you'll need to make sure there are definite edges to your path so the gravel won't keep sliding to the sides. It sounds like you may already have dug a good trench (which may or may not hold up after a few seasons of rain), now you may want to create a permanent edging with pressure-treated wood, plastic or metal edging - or bricks, logs, etc. Something to create a defined area for the gravel to stay in. Hope this helps.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

daltongirl... in our area we use what is called 'road bond'... which is gravel with the dust from crushing still included. I'd think that go_vols' suggestion to using stone dust (now that you already have the pebbles) would amount to the same thing. I know many people who have just used loose gravel, and regardless of size, it doesn't hold together too well, letting you sink in when you traverse it. Our 'road bond' still allows for drainage, and you need to edge it to contain it, just as go_vols suggested. I don't think 'tamping' loose gravel helps much, except to force the bottom layer into the substrate.

I used sand around my small (3-5") river rocks used for a path. First I put down sand, then the rocks (all over a weed cloth) which wasn't too successful. On the final part, I placed the rocks and washed the sand around them. Took a few days of washing the sand, but better results. Not applicable to small gravel, I'm afraid...

Once you got your path laid out and edged, lay down wet newpaper, this to keep the weeds from coming up. Then lay a layer of the black netting that will still let the moisture go through,then your small pepples and then sprinkle sand over the top and tap down and water to help settle the sand in between the pepples.

Novato, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the help!!! I'm going to try sand and see if I can find "dust" as well. I did but down a plastic barrier and used lawn edging to define the path. The pebbles are probably about 2 to 3 inches deep with gravel beneath them because I wanted drainage. The new path I am doing doesn't have the same drainage problem. I'm so inpressed by all of you....THANKS for the response. Bless America!!!! I have to add that my garden was a blessing this past week...A place to be with my thoughts and be thankful for so much that I have that i have so taken for granted. I am grateful for all of you even though I have never met you..Thanks again....Shirley

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Darius - road bond. That's it - I couldn't think of that name for it. Yes, it is pretty much the same as stone dust, (I think) and the name and exact make-up depends on the area of the country you live in, and the raw materials available.

Daltongirl, I'm glad we could help. You might try a local road construction or gravel pit for sources of stone dust/road bond. You probably won't find it at a garden center or home improvement store.

Our gardens are certainly a refuge, especially in times of stress and turmoil. There we can relax, or take out our frustrations on the weeds :0)

I built a pathway that was to be stepping stones down the center & stone surrounding it & was advised to get the quick-setting concrete & carefully pour it in, DRY, (DRY!) all between the stepping stones & loose stone, brushing it down into the cracks & sweeping it completely clean off the top surface of the stone (almost treating it as morter),..& THEN spray water over it to let it set up. (I did similar prep-work: leveling area & laying down landscape fabric). It worked perfectly & I've had no problems of weed seeds getting between the stone or anything like you do when you leave them loose. Extra advise I wish I'd have been given: consider brown or terra-cotta colored concrete (I think a darker color would be better than the light grey I have). I let Spotted Dead Nettle & Soapwart & Snow in Summer all spill over the edge to soften the look, as mine is a fairly wide walkway. Maybe try a practice 'dry run' in a cardboard box to see if you like the look. But I was happy with the results.

Scotia, CA(Zone 9b)

I have a pebble path that does the same thing. I sent my DS to bring me a truckload od small crushed rock and he got pea gravel instead. The rounded pebbles cannot lock together to form a solid base so it shifts as you walk on it. Now I am waiting for spring to redo the whole thing :( but at least by then we should have the old flatbed p/u with the dump bed running to make it a bit easier to get it here!

Pleasant Grove, UT(Zone 6b)

I am looking for something to create pathways between my garden beds (raised) so although this thread is like 3 years old I want to resurrect it... I am thinking about useing a layer of landscaping cloth then some roadbase and then wood chips?


Memphis, TN(Zone 7b)


Crushed limestone over landscaping cloth works really well. Personally, I wouldn't use the wood chips over it because they decompose and all - but that's purely my take on it. I'm thinking of doing the same and it works well. Only thing is you'd have to make sure the lime leaching out wouldn't harm any of your plants. I've never had it harm anything - but I could just be lucky.

Another aggregate to use is just fine pea-gravel. That also works well. The crushed limestone tends to compact a bit better - but pea-gravel will too eventually.

Good luck and let me know what you do.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

fine pea-gravel squishes all over the place, no "gravel dust" to hold it in place.

Drew, I think just landscaping cloth and roadbond would work fine. Might not drain well, though.

Sammamish, WA(Zone 7b)

I use wood chips between my veg beds and would recommend this approach. It takes about 4 years for the chips to decompose to the point where I want to replace them (maybe 50 percent?). The chips will last longer in areas with less rain fall (sprinklers need to be considered as well) so you may be able to go 6 or 8 years before replacing them? I shovel the decomposing wood chips into my beds with the rest of my compost and till it in in the fall. By the next spring, the pieces are sufficiently broken down and I'm ready to plant. The first time I layed this out, I used newspaper to supress weeds, but I've never replaced it. I haven't have any trouble with weeds coming up in my wood chips. My 3 year old pea gravel path, on the other hand, is full of weeds. The gravel is so small that it collects too much dirt, decomposing leaves, etc and provides enough medium for weeds to grow. I plan on replacing this one with stepping stones this year.

I also have crushed gravel paths around some flower beds and I'm always picking rocks out. Limestone might actually be a good thing depending on the pH of your soil. In our area, we use lime chips to neutralize our normally acidic soil around plants that like a neutral to basic pH. I think we all have our favorite methods - there are pros and cons to each. I hope you find one that works for you!

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