Confession: I’m a huge fan of period British novels and movies. Think Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. What all of these novels/films have in common, other than drama and dry wit, are lovely landscaped grounds. And this usually involves lots and lots of pea gravel paths, since concrete wasn’t around in the 1800’s.
Several years ago when we transitioned from a traditional row garden to raised beds, I knew I wanted quaint pea gravel garden paths between our boxes. And what better way to do DIY gravel paths than on a quick Saturday morning? Let me show you how!
Why Gravel for Garden Paths?
Other common garden path options are pavers, wooden boards, bricks, or simply well-maintained grass like Fescue (doesn’t spread). We chose gravel because I love the look, but also for practical reasons:
- Easy to Maintain– Unlike other path choices, DIY gravel paths are easy to maintain. If weeds start popping through, grab some boiling water and put them to rest (see my post about DIY weed killer). If the gravel level gets low (mainly because the kids love to play with it), you can simply buy another bag to fill in the low spots. Also, unlike leaving the paths grassy, we don’t have to take a weed eater to the paths and make a mess of grass clippings.
- Easy to Install– Unlike pavers, bricks, or boards, there wasn’t any need to clear out the grass, level the ground, and then install. We worked with the natural grade of the ground and left the grass where it was.
- Low Budget– The cost of pavers and other hard surface materials adds up quickly, but pea gravel and sand is relatively inexpensive. (This clearly depends on how many paths you’re creating.) You’ll also save your back by not having to lug and place pavers. You’re welcome.
- Fun for Little Gardeners– The littlest gardener loves to make gravel hills and mountains while I work in the garden. Though we’ve had discussions about not putting rocks in the Earth Box watering tube, overall, the gravel is fun, sensory play.
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Paths Perfect for Raised Beds
Unlike the British gardens where my gravel path idea came from, my paths did not include a gardner to maintain or create them. Boo. However, through trial and error, the hubs and I found that these paths don’t have to be difficult.
In fact, since we were creating our paths between raised beds, we used the raised bed edges to line the walkways and keep the gravel contained. It’s the perfect walkway solution for raised bed gardeners!
Supplies for DIY Gravel Garden Paths
- Paver Sand (Amount depends on size of paths)
- Pea Gravel (Amount depends on size of paths)
- Choose your path area. We had added a long raised bed at the end of our kitchen garden, so we wanted to create a path between the old and new beds.
2. Line the path with newspaper 5-6 sheets thick. This is your first line of defense against weeds and grasses poking through. And look, you’re recycling newspaper. Win!
3. Once newspaper is down, spread paver sand on top. We chose paver sand because it’s used to keep pavers in place, and is highly durable out in the elements, i.e. rain. Use the back of a bow rake to smooth the sand into an even layer about an inch thick. You should not be able to see any of the newspaper poking through.
4. Once paver sand is smooth and even, begin applying pea gravel to your DIY gravel paths. (If you want to use stepping stones, add them before the pea gravel.) We purchased ours in bags from Lowes, but if your paths are larger, call around and see about buying it in bulk and having it delivered.
If buying in bags, figure out how many bags you’ll need and then buy 3 more. It never seems to go as far as you think. Again, use your bow rake to spread out the gravel evenly. Push it into corners, and don’t skimp. You want a nice thick layer, so when you’re walking on the path you don’t step through to the sand.
5. Step back and enjoy! We added some stepping stones the kids had made and some other steppers we had laying around. The kids like jumping from one to the next, and I had grand plans of painting them fun colors, but life…
This is a super easy and fun project that can be completed in a day. Comment below and let me know what you’ve used in your garden paths! Until then, Happy Gardening!
DIY Garden Projects
Get chores done around the garden with these easy DIY garden projects!
Build this DIY raised bed garden fence in a weekend and protect your raised beds from rabbits and other critters. It's also a lovely way to add character to your garden area.
Build your own raised beds in just a few hours with this simple raised bed design that includes decorative trim on the top and corners.
Learn how to start a raised bed garden. Perfect for beginners or those transitioning from a row garden.
Build a cedar raised garden bed in just an hour or two with this easy tutorial. Create an entire garden of cedar raised beds this weekend!
Use old windows to create a cold frame that will allow you to garden all winter long. This cold frame is easy to make and will last for years.
Thursday 4th of August 2022
From pictures and descriptions this doesn't look at all like a path. it looks like pea gravel in a raised bed. There's no discussion of creating edges as one has to do when building a true path.
Thursday 4th of August 2022
Hello, thanks for stopping by. By definition, a path doesn't have to have edges; it's simply a track laid down for walking, which is what this is. However, if you're looking for instructions for a path that also includes edging, here's a tutorial from another site: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/sidewalks/21016412/how-to-lay-a-budget-friendly-gravel-path
Wednesday 10th of January 2018
A friend is letting us borrow a concrete smoother, it's like a rake with no grates and we've been using it to smooth out the gravel. I decided to do our homemade mulch around the beds and really love it. This looks nice and such a great tutorial.
Thursday 11th of January 2018
Thanks, Carole! A concrete smoother sounds like a great tool, and isn't it great we can all share tools so we don't have to buy them all? :)
Tuesday 7th of November 2017
Thanks for writing such a brilliant post Courtney. The paths you created look great, and compliment your raised beds perfectly!
Gravel is such a versatile gardening material, I think it's an awesome choice! I'm glad to hear that British gardens inspired the choice too :)
Tuesday 7th of November 2017
Thank you so much Kevin!