18th Nov 2022 -

Decorative stones can be used to shift the look of your garden, creating attractive and hardy decorative elements that are quick to install and easy to maintain. With a range of colours and sizes available, you can create striking borders, paths, driveways and more. 

Giving you an overview of this popular landscaping product, this guide from Building Materials Nationwide looks at the types of decorative stones sold in the UK, what they cost, and how they can be used within a front or back garden.

What Are Decorative Stones?

A type of aggregate, decorative stones are specifically used for their aesthetic benefits within a space, typically a garden. Decorative stones can also serve practical uses, such as for creating paths and driveways around a house, or as a mulch for plants. 

When choosing decorative stone you’ll have a wide range of options, from smaller gravel to larger rocks such as slates. These can be used within landscaping to create eye-catching garden features and will retain their look for many years with little maintenance. Using a combination of decorative stones, garden features, and plants will allow you to create an outdoor space that caters to any need, be that relaxation, entertainment, or socialising. 

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What Types of Decorative Stones Are Available For Gardens?

When shopping for decorative stones in the UK you’ll have options such as smaller garden gravel, larger pebbles, and chippings of slate available. Each of these can be used to create a distinct look, with some helping to create sleek blocks of colour and others creating a more natural blend.

Pea Shingle

Pea shingle, sometimes called pea gravel, is a blend of stones, each about the size of a pea. With a blend of colours that is best compared to a rocky beach, combining browns, whites, and greys, pea shingle can be used for practical purposes such as creating garden pathways and can also be used within decorative beds or features. It is naturally formed, with smooth rounded surfaces on each rock Pea shingle can be sold in 10mm diameter or 20mm, depending on your needs.

Slate Chippings

Slate is a strong, attractive rock used for everything from flooring, to roofing, and even as plates. Small, flat chips of slate are sold as decorative stones, a popular choice for contemporary gardens. Creating a smooth, shiny black appearance, slate chippings can be used for practical and visual features. They perform well in water, allowing them to be used as part of a fountain or pond. 

White Grey Limestone Gravel

White gravel can meet the various needs offered by other products like pea shingle. Compared to other options, white gravel can help make a garden feel brighter by reflecting light around it. This can help to brighten shaded areas of your garden and can also help reflect more light to the plants within it. 

gravel

Golden Gravel

“Golden” decorative gravel combines various shades of yellow, brown, and cream to create a golden look from a distance. Much like white gravel, this can be used to brighten a shaded space or driveway, while complementing a house visually. It can also be used within flower beds or garden features.

Pebbles

Alongside gravel there will be a range of pebbles available, coming in larger sizes and a range of colours. These decorative stones can be used for features within a garden or for the creation of paths and driveways. 

Edging Stones

A very different landscaping product, edging stones are large decorative garden stones used to border specific elements, with pleasing patterns and shapes carved onto them. Edging stones can be used to frame a path or to curve around a raised flower bed.

Buying Decorative Stones in Bulk

Decorative stones tend to be sold in smaller bags of around 25kg and larger bulk bags which will be about 750kg. To give an estimate on the volume of decorative stones needed for a project, using 20mm gravel stones will allow you to cover 12m2 at a recommended 50mm depth. A 25kg bag will cover 0.4m2.

What do Decorative Stones Cost?

To use our range of pea shingles as an example, at the time of writing a 25kg bag costs £2.48 before VAT and an 850kg bulk bag costs £51.76 before VAT. Other products can come at a higher price, with a 750kg bulk bag of white-grey limestone gravel priced at £123.88 before VAT, and a 750kg bulk bag of golden gravel stone chippings sold for £150.94 before VAT. 

How Can Decorative Stones Be Used?

Alongside purely decorative installations, aggregates can be used for creating paths and driveways, and also as mulch for plants.

Paths

A great and consistent choice for garden paths, decorative stones can be easily installed, creating a sturdy surface that won’t degrade over time, damage your garden, or require much maintenance. To build a path you will need to flatten out the soil and lay a base of crushed rocks, which will be topped with a plastic weed barrier. 

You will also need to border all gravel with solid rocks or bricks to avoid decorative stones falling over the side. Once this is complete, you can pour a 50mm layer of stones onto your path, raking it to achieve a consistent and flat surface. Maintenance will involve re-levelling your path, retrieving any stones that have been kicked from it, and in some cases topping up your path.

gravel

Driveways

Decorative stones can be used to create a driveway in a similar method to building a path. This will create a beautiful entrance to your house, blending with both the house itself and the plants of your front garden. Like a path, you will need a base layer of crushed rocks, a firm border, and a plastic weed barrier under your decorative stones. When using gravel for a driveway it’s worth opting for larger stones, of 20mm or more, to avoid small rocks lodging within tyres.

Decorating Your Garden

Taking advantage of the diverse colours available, decorative stones can be used throughout a garden for non-functional purposes, creating visual elements such as borders, water features, and striking garden features. You can use the radiant look of white gravel to brighten the edges of a shaded garden, or create striking borders through the use of slate chippings. 

Flower Bed Mulching

Smaller decorative stones like pea shingles can be used as mulch over a garden bed. Mulch operates to keep moisture in and heat plants by absorbing the sun's rays. This can help existing plants to get the levels of nutrients they need, particularly if using reflective white gravel. When looking for mulch, other options will directly give nutrients to your soil, but these will lack the aesthetic benefits given by a bed of decorative stones.

Our Range of Decorative Stones For Gardens

Building Materials Nationwide works with landscapers across the country, selling a wide range of quality decorative stones through our website, with both smaller and bulk bags available. We stock a range of decorative aggregates, with great options like pea shingles and golden gravel

We also stock weed control mats, perfect for creating a secure gravel path or driveway. If you work within the industry you can take advantage of our trade accounts today, gaining access to faster delivery options, our network of suppliers, and the services of a dedicated account manager. Sign up through our website today.

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