The preparation necessary for pea gravel ground cover

Updated April 17, 2017

Pea gravel is made up of rounded stones about 6 mm to 1 cm (1/4 inch to 3/8 inch) in size. It is relatively inexpensive, comes in different shades of white and brown and is easy to handle without heavy equipment. Pea gravel can be used as a mulch around plants or laid down over fabric or plastic to keep weeds down. Use a border to keep the pea gravel where you lay it.

Lay out the border

Lay out the border where you want to lay the pea gravel for ground cover. Use a piece of string or a garden hose to to better visualise the area. Use the border to figure out the volume of pea gravel you will need for the final project. You can lay the pea gravel directly over grass or soil, but plants will grow up through the pea gravel.

Dig out the area

Using a shovel or edging tool, dig straight down about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) along the border. Remove all vegetation and soil down to the same depth across the entire area. Remove the soil and vegetation with a wheelbarrow. You can apply an herbicide to the area at this point if you wish.

Place the border

Use steel or vinyl edging material. Steel edging has clips that hold stakes to immobilise the border. Vinyl edging is usually held in place by the weight of the pea gravel. Outline the entire area with edging, making the edging flush with the surrounding ground. Drive in the stakes if required for the edging material.

Cover with landscape fabric

To keep weeds down, cover the entire area with landscape fabric or heavy plastic. Note: plastic doesn't last as long and will retain water. The fabric should overlap at least the bottom half of the edging material.

Fill in with pea gravel

Calculate how much pea gravel you will need to cover the area. 0.76 cubic metres (1 cubic yard) of material will cover 5 square metres (54 square feet) to a depth of 15 cm (6 inches). If you are dumping the pea gravel into the area using a wheelbarrow, put a board over the border so you don't dent it. Use a rake to level the pea gravel, making sure the border is packed securely and the gravel is even over the entire area. If the gravel compacts after a week or so, add more.

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