How to install a pea gravel drive

Updated February 21, 2017

Pea gravel is a green, eco-friendly alternative to traditional concrete or asphalt drives and it costs less than concrete. Pea gravel looks natural, contours to follow any path through a landscape, helps minimise soil erosion and costs very little to repair compared to concrete. Best of all installation, does not require any heavy or expensive speciality equipment, making the installation of a pea gravel drive a sound choice for cost-conscious do-it-yourselfers.

Decide where to install the pea gravel drive. For long drives, contour the pathway of the drive to pass areas of landscape and architectural interest such as interesting trees or bodies of water. Use a tape measure to determine the desired width of the intended drive, then use red or orange landscaping spray paint to mark the exact borders of the drive. Use the tape measure to ensure a consistent width along the entire length of the drive.

Calculate the amount of pea gravel and landscaping fabric needed for the drive area. Multiply the length of the drive by the width to obtain the surface square meters of the drive area to be covered with the fabric and the gravel. Multiply this number by a depth of 6 cm (2 1/2 inches) to anticipate a 6 cm (2 1/2 inch) layer of gravel. Calculate the number of metres of edging needed to border the pea gravel area by doubling the length of the drive.

Visit the hardware, landscaping or garden centre to select the pea gravel. It comes in different colours. Choose a combination that coordinates with the surrounding landscape or architecture. Buy enough gravel to lay a 6 cm (2 1/2 inch) layer, and the landscaping fabric and garden edging. Buy from a wholesaler or retailer who delivers.

Excavate the drive area. Don the gardening gloves and cut any grass or sod along the edges of the drive with the shovel blade. Lift or roll the plant matter out for use elsewhere. Remove a 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) layer of soil and rake the excavated area to break up remaining roots and level the bed. Cut thin trenches into the sides of the drive to help hold the garden edging.

Set the level across the width of the drive and determine if the soil is level. Redistribute the soil if necessary with the rake. Repeat this process every 90 m (3 feet) along the entire length of the drive until the area is levelled.

Measure and cut the appropriate amount of landscaping fabric to act as underlayment. Cut the fabric wide enough to cover the width of the drive and under the garden edging on either side.

Install the plastic or stone edging. Consider steel edging and steel holder spikes as an alternative to plastic or stone.

Pour the pea gravel along the centre of the drive and use the rake to spread a 6 cm (2 1/2-inch) layer evenly along the excavated drive area.


Add stepping stones to the centre of the pea gravel every so often to break up the drive and add visual interest. Each stone placed within the gravel drive must be set into the soil at the proper depth to level the top of the stone with the surface of the pea gravel to avoid tire damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscaping spray paint
  • Tape measure
  • Pea gravel
  • Shovel
  • Long level
  • Edging stones or plastic border
  • Landscape fabric
  • Utility knife
  • Straight head rake
  • Gardening gloves
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About the Author

An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.