14th Feb 2024 -

Working with pea gravel can prove challenging. This small, rounded rock can present some unique challenges even for experienced masons, gardeners or landscapers. In this article, we tackle these issues and offer helpful advice for adding pea gravel to your projects. 

What is pea gravel used for?

Pea gravel is an adaptable landscaping material suitable for an array of jobs. Its shape and neutral gravel tones of white, grey, brown and tan naturally accent a landscape.

Decorative features

Sprinkled among plants or around yard features, pea gravel adds a pleasing appearance. The neutral tones create depth and visual interest. Landscaping with pea gravel offers a well-cared-for look around trees, retaining walls and other enhancements. 


Winding pea gravel pathways create a quaint look in a garden. The tiny pebbles provide stable, comfortable footing yet still allow drainage. Pea gravel paths also absorb impact, making them ideal for wheelbarrows and equipment. Building a pea gravel walkway is often more affordable than using composite materials.


Pea gravel allows rapid water drainage downward because of its smooth, rounded shape. Placing gravel around gutter downspouts, splash blocks and other drainage areas prevents flooding and erosion issues. In the same way as mulch, pea gravel in gardens also helps with plant growth and retains moisture. 


As an attractive, low-maintenance groundcover, pea gravel hinders weed growth while helping to regulate soil temperature and moisture. It delivers a finished look to plant beds and creates defined spaces within the garden. Raking keeps a pea gravel cover looking neat and orderly.


Mixing pea gravel into crushed stone driveways helps fill gaps, creating a tight, durable surface. The pea gravel softens the harsher stone edges for a more natural stone driveway look. This combination withstands weather restraints and frequent use with proper installation.


Pea gravel makes an appealing, affordable patio material that provides a soft crunch underfoot. Its multi-toned pebbles create visual depth and contrast beautifully against greenery. 

A pea gravel patio allows rainwater to drain through, avoiding puddles. Installation is straightforward but does require edging to contain the gravel. With a little raking, pea gravel garden patios maintain a tidy and well-kept appearance. 


Although less common, pea gravel can add a distinctive flair to masonry projects like walls, pillars and concrete structures. When utilised properly, the smooth stones provide eye-catching contrast and dimension against rigid surfaces.

Strategically placed grout lines help retain the gravel. Borders also help contain it within designated decorative areas. With careful application, pea gravel greatly complements stonework and poured concrete. 

Read more about pea gravel uses with our in-depth article. 

5 common challenges with pea gravel

When installing pea gravel, several challenges may arise that can compromise the final product if not properly addressed. Being aware of these potential issues and taking preventative measures is key.

1. Potential washout

A common problem with pea gravel installation is washout. The smooth, small shape of the gravel can lead to displacement by environmental factors like rain and erosion. To avoid washout, sturdy landscape edging must be installed along all borders. 

Opt for wide edging with deep stakes for maximum stability. Also, creating an underlying base layer of heavy geotextile fabric or poured concrete beneath the pea gravel can prevent washout.

2. Scattering

For a pea gravel walkway and other high-traffic areas, scattered stones may become an eyesore. The constant foot traffic on a path or driveway can displace the gravel from its intended placement.

To keep pea gravel contained, flush edging is recommended. Durable plastic, concrete or stone are optimal solutions for keeping each pebble neatly in position.

3. Weed growth 

The emergence of weeds through the pea gravel layer is another frequent challenge. Laying down an impenetrable weed barrier under the top gravel layer can prevent unwanted vegetation. 

Make sure the barrier extends fully beyond the pea gravel borders with ample overlap. A double layer provides superb weed prevention.

4. Drainage issues

Pea gravel allows water to quickly drain through its smooth, rounded shape. However, failing to properly plan pea gravel for drainage can lead to issues like pooling water or runoff. 

To ensure adequate drainage, install pipes and tubes beneath the gravel layer. Also, create a slight sloping grade away from any structures. Using a hardcore base layer under the pea gravel can further facilitate drainage.

5. Problems with levelling

The small pea gravel size can make attaining a smooth, even layout difficult. Thoroughly prepare the base by tamping down any uneven spots. Use a tool like a plate compactor to compact thin layers of gravel while pouring. 

This will help achieve a level surface. A resin adhesive for pea gravel can also stabilise pea gravel on uneven ground. Be sure to inspect for any high or low areas during installation frequently.

What are the considerations with masonry pea gravel?

When incorporating pea gravel into stonework or concrete structures, weigh up several key factors throughout the project. 

  • Proper adhesive selection: Choosing the right adhesive is crucial to securely bond the pea gravel. Outdoor construction adhesives formulated for masonry work provide the strongest weather-resistant hold. This prevents washout and loosening over time.
  • Substrate preparation: Proper sub-surface mixing, packing, and levelling provide a sound foundation for the pea gravel layer. An uneven or unstable base leads to shifting and irregular finish.
  • Careful adhesive application: Carefully controlling adhesive depth and spread prevents excess oozing between pebbles. Shallow adhesion in thin layers affixes gravel while allowing its rounded shape to show through.
  • Strategic containment: Building in grout lines or ledges around pea gravel sections helps retain the loose material. Gravel borders also prevent scatter beyond desired inlaid areas. Containment preserves the finished design.
  • Test areas: Mockups test adhesives and techniques before full-scale application. They highlight any flaws in gravel size, spread rate, containment method or bond strength. Test areas prevent costly rework.

How much pea gravel should you use?

Determining the right amount of pea gravel to purchase and spread is crucial for both aesthetic and functional success. Using too little gravel can make the finished project look sparse and incomplete.

It may also lead to issues with footing, drainage, or erosion control depending on the application. However, over-applying pea gravel wastes money on unneeded material and creates extra hauling and spreading work.

For pathways, a 2-3 inch layer of pea gravel provides comfortable, stable footing while still allowing rainwater to penetrate down to the soil. Going above 3 inches deep runs the risk of the gravel shifting or spreading unevenly. This will require frequent raking and levelling.

When using pea gravel as an ornamental accent around gardens and hardscapes, restraint is key. Just 1-2 inches spread evenly creates a tidy finished look that neatly frames plantings without suffocating roots or overwhelming features.

For drainage areas, carefully calculate the cubic footage of the space and add 10-15% extra pea gravel to sufficiently handle expected water runoff. Too thin of a layer will wash away rapidly with heavy rainfall. But overdoing it too thickly can also clog and prevent proper drainage.

Larger projects like driveways require estimating tons of pea gravel per square footage based on the desired depth. Buying too little means you will end up with an uneven, sparse-looking finish. However, overbuying adds extra to the total labour and pea gravel cost.

How to buy pea gravel bulk bags

Pea shingle gravel is renowned for its versatility and aesthetic appeal. Our top-notch pea gravel is sourced from trusted suppliers, ensuring consistent quality. You can buy either 25 kg or 850 kg bags of pea gravel, perfect for all-size jobs. 

Whether you are a homeowner embarking on a pea gravel landscaping project or a contractor tackling a commercial development, it delivers superb performance for projects such as paving, a pea gravel driveway or decorative features.

Trade customers looking to streamline their procurement process and access exclusive benefits find immense value in opening trade accounts with Building Materials Nationwide. Our trade accounts offer a host of advantages, including fast UK delivery service, knowledgeable trade account managers and competitive pricing.

You will enjoy the convenience of easy access to our extensive selection of building materials and flexible credit options, subject to eligibility. We empower you to meet project deadlines efficiently and effectively. Sign uptoday to get started or contact us by phone or the form below to learn more.

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