ISSUE 19  |  Master Mix

Low-Cost Luxe: 9 Pea Gravel Patio Ideas to Steal

May 26, 2016 6:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

At a cost of about $5 a square foot, a pea gravel patio is easy on the budget (especially if you open the 50-pound bags and rake the gravel yourself)–and can be a surprisingly elegant hardscape element in the garden.

Small, rounded stone pebbles feel good underfoot–and crunch satisfyingly when you walk on the forgiving surface. We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about pea gravel in Hardscaping 101: Pea Gravel.

If you’re considering a pea gravel patio, here are nine of our favorite design ideas to steal:

Checkerboard Effect


Above: Garden Visit: At Home with Jeweler Kathleen Whitaker in LA.

Match pea gravel’s color with larger pavers and mix them to make a pattern. Treat the pea gravel like grout and lay the pavers equidistant from each other on a grid to create a checkerboard effect.

Patio Annex


Above: A simple pea gravel border extends the living space. Seen here, a patio in a garden in architect Barbara Chambers’ garden in Mill Valley, California. For more, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley. Photograph by Liese Johannssen for Gardenista.

Widen Your Horizons


Above: Steal This Look: Modern Brooklyn Backyard on a Budget.

Make a long, narrow space feel wider by unifying all the elements with a pea gravel border.

Apply Circular Thinking


Above: Rehab Diary: A Garden Makeover for a Ranch-Style House.

Pea gravel’s small size and shape makes it the ideal hardscaping material to create a non-linear patio. You can echo the shape of a central fountain or round pool by rimming it with a pea gravel patio.

A Magic Carpet


Above: Carpet an outdoor room in a luxurious layer of wall-to-wall pea gravel. Photograph courtesy of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects.

Weed Repellent


Above: Beneath a pea gravel patio in Northern California is a weed barrier. For more, see Every Garden Needs a Teepee.

Lay a layer of landscape cloth underneath pea gravel to prevent weeds from growing underfoot.

Take the Heat

The Capri, Ten Eyck LA, shade feature

Above: In a hot climate stick with light colored gravel to reflect the heat (darker colors will absorb heat). Photograph courtesy of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects.

Define a Destination


Above: For more, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley. Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

In a far corner of the garden, lay out a spot for a bench or lounge area, cover it with pea gravel, and surround it with a low hedge of evergreen shrubs to create a sense of greater depth even in a small space.

Rein in Rainwater


Above: Sited on a steep slope in an oak forest in California, a pea gravel patio by RADD directory member Feldman Architecture aids drainage and prevents runoff. For more, see Garden Envy: 10 Dramatic Drainage Ideas to Steal.

If runoff is a problem, lay a permeable pea gravel patio to filter rainwater.