How to Lay a Gravel Yard

Written by meg warren
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How to Lay a Gravel Yard
Many types of gravel are available to turn a yard into a low-maintenance place to enjoy the outdoors. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Gravel yards are sometimes found in smaller yards and play areas because It is far less expensive to lay gravel than to purchase and run a lawnmower for such a small area. Grass in most play areas will not grow to the best of its abilities because of repeated trampling by little feet. A gravel yard will remove that worry and maintenance.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Garden hose, rope or spray paint
  • Shovel
  • Hand tamper or rented compactor
  • Crushed stone pack
  • Metal rake
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Landscaping edging
  • Landscaping pins

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  1. 1

    Mark the area for the gravel yard. (If the entire yard is going to be filled with gravel, this step is not necessary.) Determine a large enough space around the play equipment to provide running room for the children who will play inside. Mark a line with a garden hose, rope or spray paint.

  2. 2

    Dig inside the marked area to a depth of four inches. Remove dirt, grass, weeds and tree roots inside the space. The sides of the area should be dug straight down, and the area inside should be flat.

  3. 3

    Tamp down the dirt with a hand tamper to compact it. For large areas, renting a compactor to tamp the dirt will reduce the amount of time and work required.

  4. 4

    Fill the area with 2 inches of crushed stone pack. Rake the pack smooth with a metal rake.

  5. 5

    Spray the stone pack with water to dampen it. This will limit the amount of dust in the air when running the compactor or using the tamping tool. Tamp the crushed stone pack with a hand tamper or compactor. This will provide a hard surface for the gravel to rest on. It also will provide a barrier between the gravel and the dirt below, slowing weed growth.

  6. 6

    Lay down a layer of landscaping fabric. Turn the shiny side of the fabric up. Overlap the next row of fabric approximately 6 inches. The more fabric you use, the better the weed control. Adding a second layer of fabric is not discouraged. Pull the fabric taut and fasten in place with landscaping pins to prevent it from moving during installation of the gravel.

  7. 7

    Line the inside edges of the area with landscape edging. The use of the area will determine which type of edging. If the area is going to be mostly used by children, it may be best to use a larger, more durable edging. This could include lumber that will be inserted vertically, and protrude from the ground approximately 12 inches to prevent rocks from being kicked out of the area and onto the lawn. Or it could be a simple black liner. Place the liner along the edges and install according to manufacturer directions.

  8. 8

    Fill the area with gravel to 1/2 inch below ground level. Rake the gravel smooth across the entire area inside. Dampen the rocks and compact it with the compactor.

Tips and warnings

  • 1 ton of gravel will be needed per 9 square feet. Use the calculator included in the resource section to calculate exactly how much gravel is needed. Enter 2 inches in the thickness category.

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