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

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:

Lay a Magic Carpet

Above: The courtyard in the Antwerp gallery-home of gallerist Veerle Wenes designed by Lens°Ass Architects features nothing but gravel, sparse vines, a single tree, and elevated concrete floor. Photograph courtesy of Verne, from Steal This Look: An Artful Gravel Garden in Antwerp.

Design a 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.

Define Garden and Vegetable Beds

Above: Here, it’s used to pave the paths between various raised gardens. Photograph courtesy of Charlie Hart, from Required Reading: Skymeadow by Charlie Hart.

Annex the Patio

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.

Set the Table

Above: Pea gravel provides the perfect flooring for al fresco dining. Photograph by Alison Engstrom, from Evening Light: A Painter’s Serene Summer Garden in Upstate New York.

Widen Your Horizons

Above: Make a long, narrow space feel wider by unifying all the elements with a pea gravel border. Photograph courtesy of Foras Studio, from Steal This Look: Modern Brooklyn Backyard on a Budget.

Apply Circular Thinking

Above: 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. Photograph courtesy of Mosaic Gardens, from Rehab Diary: A Garden Makeover for a Ranch-Style House.

Define a Destination

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

Repel Weeds

Above: Beneath a pea gravel patio in Northern California is a weed barrier. Photograph by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista, from Every Garden Needs a Teepee.

Take the Heat

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.

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.

Finally, learn how to successfully use gravel in a hardscape project with our Hardscaping 101: Gravel guide.

Are you also planning a Decks & Patios project? Learn everything you need to know on to get started with our Hardscaping 101: Decks & Patios 101 guide.

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