12th Feb 2024 -

Pea shingle and gravel may look similar, but they differ in texture, size weight and aesthetic appeal. For this feature, we examine the pros and cons of pea shingle vs gravel. We help you determine which works better for your specific landscaping needs. Understanding how these differences affect performance can guide your decision.

What is pea shingle and gravel?

Also known as pea gravel, it consists of small, rounded stones. Pea gravel size is usually between 10mm and 20mm in diameter. The stones have a smooth, uniform shape, which gives the shingle a clean and consistent appearance. 

It is often used for landscape purposes like creating a pea gravel patio, path, garden bed or pea gravel driveway. Pea shingle comes in a range of natural colours including white, grey, brown and tan.

Gravel has a wider variety of stone sizes and shapes. It can range from 2mm up to 64mm in diameter. The stones have more angular edges and come in a broader spectrum of colours and textures. 

It is primarily used for landscape gravel, construction and decorative reasons. Also, it provides a varied look compared to a uniform pea shingle. Gravel driveways and pathways typically use a specific size of gravel rather than a mix.

Gravel and pea shingle pros and cons

When choosing between the materials, you should weigh their distinct pros and cons. We detail the key benefits and limitations of each one related to aesthetics, traction, stability, drainage and maintenance.

 Pea shingle

Creates a uniform surface: The consistent small, smooth stones bond tightly to form an even, tidy ground cover that enhances aesthetics.Lacks traction underfoot: The smoothness and tiny size of the uniform pebbles result in minimal friction. This makes pea shingle prone to slipping when wet.
Promotes efficient drainage: The smooth edge of each granule encourages rapid pea gravel for drainage. It prevents hazardous puddles or flooding.Enables weed growth: Without a barrier, weeds can sprout up through the uniform gaps between the pea shingle gravel stones.
Offers firm support: Pea shingle's smooth, round stones shift minimally and pack down firmly to create stable, resilient paving.Requires replenishing: Wind and rain can wash away pea shingle's tiny stones more quickly than larger aggregates.


Forms a sturdy base: The weight and diversity of gravel pieces interlock to create firm, resilient paving for heavy use.Enables weed and grass growth: The gaps and crevices among the diverse stones allow unwanted vegetation to sprout.
Creates permeable ground cover: Larger, angular gravel stones allow more air space for rapid water drainage and absorption.Accumulates sediment and dust:  Gravel requires more frequent sweeping and cleaning to maintain a pristine look.
Provides textured surface: The jagged edges of varied gravel stones grip shoes and tires, increasing traction.Provides textured surface: The jagged edges of varied gravel stones grip shoes and tyres, increasing traction.

What does a gravel and pea shingle project cost?

While pea shingle generally has a lower upfront cost, gravel provides better long-term durability. As we break down the estimated expenses for a 30 square metre (m2) driveway, key differences emerge between installing pea shingle vs gravel.

FactorPea ShingleGravel
Material cost£25 - £35 per tonne.£30 - £70+ per tonne based on type.
Installation cost£30 - £50 per m2.£40 - £60 per m2.
30m2 total project cost£900 - £1,500.£1,200 - £1,800.
Base preparationLess intensive.More excavation is needed.
Labour intensityLower compaction needs.Multi-layer tamping is more intensive.
Added costs£200 - £500 for barriers and edging.£200 - £500 for barriers and edging.
DurabilityLess durable long-term.Withstands heavy use better.
Long-term valueMore frequent replacement is required.Wise investment despite the higher upfront cost.

How to install pea shingle and gravel

Proper installation techniques allow pea shingle and gravel materials to perform at their full potential. Following key best practices during application will ensure these aggregates provide maximum performance. 

Installing pea shingle

  • Clear and level the area: Eliminate bumps and irregularities to help even pea gravel landscaping that resists shifting long-term.
  • Line the sub-base with a weed barrier: High-quality geotextile fabric prevents unwanted vegetation and allows proper drainage.
  • Construct firm perimeter edging: Bury pea gravel landscape edging 1-2 inches deep or pour concrete curbs to keep pea shingle stones contained.
  • Pour pea shingle 2-3 inches deep: This provides adequate coverage for functionality while avoiding excess depth that displaces easily.
  • Use a vibrating plate compactor: Compress pea shingle tightly over the whole area so the smooth granules interlock firmly to prevent scattering.

Installing gravel

  • Dig out gravel base for drainage: Grading the sub-base improves stability and directs water away efficiently.
  • Install high-quality weed barrier: Durable geotextile membrane blocks undesirable weed growth. 
  • Spread 4-6 inches sub-base layer: This crushed stone foundation evenly distributes the load and prevents settling.
  • Top with a 2-3 inch layer: Rake the gravel until it is smooth at the preferred grade to achieve the desired finished look.
  • Compact with a vibratory compactor: This forces gravel pieces together for superior interlock and firmness underfoot.
  • Embed sturdy edging strips: Around the perimeter, contain gravel layers and prevent scatter by anchoring plastic or metal borders.

How much maintenance is required?

Routine maintenance keeps pea shingle and gravel visually appealing. It also optimises durability and performance. Follow the below comprehensive best practices.

Maintaining pea shingle

  • Sweep pea shingle weekly using a stiff broom. Thorough sweeping prevents small stones from being kicked away, retaining tidy coverage. It also stops debris buildup that can hinder drainage.
  • Inspect monthly and spot-treat any emerging weeds. Apply a targeted weed killer quickly to control unwanted plants before extensive roots form. Avoid overspray on surrounding stones.
  • Rake and redistribute displaced pebbles monthly. Heavy foot traffic can kick stones out of place. Raking levels in these dug-out areas to prevent dips or thin spots from developing.
  • Top up low coverage zones with fresh pea gravel annually. Over time, weathering can wash away material. Adding 1-2 inches maintains a uniform appearance.
  • Compact loose areas with a plate compactor. High-traffic spots can become unstable. Compressing firmly restores the interlock between smooth stones.

Maintaining gravel

  • Use a leaf blower monthly to remove leaves and grass sprouts. Allowing debris to accumulate will block water drainage channels between gravel stones.
  • Hand-pull weeds weekly. Frequent manual removal prevents roots from developing while keeping surrounding gravel undisturbed.
  • Rake out any wheel track impressions monthly. Ruts from vehicles or equipment compromise smooth coverage. 
  • Spread a 2-inch top coat over worn areas every 2-3 years. Fresh gravel renews ageing sections which are prone to settling, weeds or impressions.
  • Realign border edging and return stray stones annually. Preventing gravel scatter keeps edges looking tidy.
  • Drive over and roll loose areas to re-compact as needed. High-use zones can become loose. Rolling firms up gravel pieces.

Should you use an adhesive?

Applying an adhesive for pea shingle or gravel types such as crushed stone gravel creates a superior interlock for enhanced durability. Consider the below benefits and tips. 

Using adhesiveInstallation tips
Creates stronger bonds between aggregate pieces to prevent shifting and scatter, improving stability.Select polymer-modified or acrylic resin adhesives specifically formulated for gravel or pea shingle.
Although not waterproof, it minimises erosion from wind, rain and heavy use for greater longevity.Ensure the base is extremely dry before applying adhesive to boost bonding.
Reduces indentation and prevents the materials from displacing when walked on.Pour adhesive directly onto the substrate and rake evenly over the area.
Lowers maintenance needs by keeping materials firmly in place with less redistribution.Let the adhesive cure fully according to product instructions before you allow traffic or compaction.
Allows installation on steeper slopes without slide risk.Take precautions when using adhesives. Be sure to wear gloves and avoid windy conditions.

Shop pea gravel bulk bags today

Access premium aggregate materials to enhance landscaping and construction projects. We supply top-quality pea shingle ideal for jobs such as a pathway, driveway and decorative landscaping with pea gravel.

Available in neutral tone colours and 25kg or 850kg bag sizes, it provides aesthetically pleasing ground cover that withstands heavy foot traffic. 

Plus, we offer stone and gravelmaterials in a wide spectrum of sizes, shapes and colours to suit construction and design needs. From limestone gravel to crushed gravel chippings, our offering creates optimal traction and stability. 

For trade customers seeking reliability, opening a trade account offers numerous benefits. With a trade account, you gain access to competitive trade prices on our extensive range of products. We also deliver your materials efficiently across the UK with various delivery options. 

Our dedicated account managers are here to provide personalised assistance and support, ensuring you have everything you need. Apply for a trade account now or contact us using the form below. 

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