Pea stone often called pea gravel, is one of the more common kinds of decorative gravel found on driveways or walkways. It is made up of small, smooth pebbles, usually about 1/2 inch in diameter, that comes in multiple colors. Pea gravel gets its shape and color by being formed for years in rivers and streams. The minerals in the streams change the gravel’s color and the friction of being rolled along by the water makes the gravel smooth. When you decide to put pea gravel in your driveway, there are some design ideas you should consider.
After years of being compacted by vehicles in your driveway, pea gravel will start to get compacted into the ground. You may need to refill your driveway with more pea gravel every three or four years. Pea gravel can cost approximately $1 per square foot, according to John Wagner, writer for This Old House website, so refilling your pea gravel driveway can get expensive. One way to make your driveway last longer is to put a layer of larger stones in as a base layer and then put your pea gravel on top of the base stones. Use a ratio of 1 inch of pea gravel to every 2 inches of stone.
You can add a decorative look to your pea gravel driveway by mixing in small pieces of quartz. Quartz is another naturally occurring decorative gravel that sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight. The multicolored pea gravel and sparkling quartz together can make for interesting decor in your driveway.
Pea gravel driveways benefit from higher edging because the smooth stones disperse more easily than more coarse gravel. To keep your pea gravel driveway contained and to maintain a compacted consistency that is easier to walk and drive on, use taller edging such as wood or masonry tiles to surround your driveway. Pressure-treated beams make ideal pea gravel edging as the beams are soft enough to allow the gravel to move naturally but tall enough to keep the gravel contained.
A pea gravel driveway is good for drainage because the pea gravel allows water to flow freely, unlike asphalt or concrete, which do not allow water to pass through and create runoff that can flow toward your home. When you are designing your pea gravel driveway, make sure it is graded away from your home and toward the curb. This will allow the water to flow safely away from your foundation and protect your landscaping as well.
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How to Build a Pea Gravel Driveway
Building a pea gravel driveway is an inexpensive alternative to pouring concrete, asphalt or laying pavers. Available in a variety of shades, pea gravel adds color and texture to the driveway, enhances its charm and prevents soil erosion. This important feature of exterior design comprises tiny rounded stones that are confined within an outline. The driveway option is inexpensive, less time-consuming, easy-to-build and easier to repair than one made from concrete or asphalt.
Measure and mark the length and shape of the driveway on the ground with two parallel lines or powdered chalk. Space the lines at least 10 feet apart to accommodate one car or 16 feet for two cars. Depending on personal preference and the size of the area, keep the lines for the driveway straight or curve them around architectural features to highlight different aspects of the landscape. Ensure the width of the driveway runs even all along.
Insert an edger or square-edged shovel into the turf along each chalk mark to form the outlines.
Excavate a 4- to 6-inch-deep trench within the outlines, providing a 1-inch slope every 8 feet. Position the slope toward the street to direct the flow of excess water away from the driveway. Set a level across the width of the excavation every few feet to check whether the soil is level. Redistribute with a rake, if necessary.
Install wood, steel or plastic edging along the sides of the trench. Pound spikes provided with steel or plastic edging into the evenly spaced pockets provided along the length to anchor them into the ground.
Compact the dirt at the base of the excavation with a manual tamper or compacting machine. Pound the tamper or roll the machine over the soil two or three times until completely firm. Ideally, no footprints should form on the soil when you walk over it.
Lay landscape fabric or geotextile cloth over the base of the excavation, shiny side up. Cut excess fabric with scissors so it fits snugly within the edging.
Spread pea gravel over the fabric in the trench until its top is slightly below the surrounding surface. Rake the top of the gravel to level it.
Tips & Warnings
Multiply the length by the width to determine the square footage of the driveway. Multiply the result by the depth of the excavation, which is 4 to 6 inches, to determine how much pea gravel you need for the driveway.
Roll the turf between the outlines and use it to patch other parts of your lawn or yard.
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