Pebble gardens are popular all over the world, but are especially beautiful in Italy where vast areas are intricately landscaped in pleasing patterns and geometric designs with polished pebbles of different sizes and colours. Meandering paths, shallow streams of sparkling water and an array of flowering plants and trees grace the peaceful surroundings. The DIY garden designer can add a wrought-iron bench, a pergola or a trellis with a bounty of colourful flowers. A pebble garden is a low-maintenance garden after installation.
Place the pebble garden in an area that has enough space to incorporate the desired pebble designs as well as garden furniture or structures such as trellises, fountains or a pergola. The location should be out of the normal traffic pattern and have some room nearby to expand into if desired.
Wall in the pebble garden with sleepers tightly placed end to end that are sunk 5 cm (2 inches) into the ground. This is necessary to contain the pebbles within the garden and help maintain the designs.
Till the soil in the garden with the tiller if the soil is hardened and resists draining. Good drainage for the garden is very important. Lay down weed barrier cloth.
Fill the garden with 2.5 cm (1 inch) of sand from wall to wall, using a shovel, and add 5 cm (2 inches) of pea gravel.
Place plastic garden border strips to fill in a circular area measuring 1.8 by 1.8 metres (6 by 6 feet) in one corner of the garden that offers some privacy while providing a good view of the garden itself. Use coloured pebbles of the same size that stand out dramatically from the pea gravel to fill the area in to a depth of 2.5 cm (1 inch). Place a bench made of stone or wrought iron in the centre of the circle. Install a barbecue pit or bird fountain near the bench.
Lay down a 60 cm (2 feet) wide path that meanders through the garden from the entry point to the bench. Line the path with plastic garden border strips and fill it in with coloured pebbles of the same size to a depth of 5 cm (2 inches). Line the path with solar lights or larger stones of the same type and colour.
Install an arched trellis with flowering plants at the entry to the path.
Add plants in highly visible areas to provide colour. Dig through the gravel and plant succulents, rose bushes or even small trees in the garden, then spread the gravel over the root system.
Create several pleasing designs to fit specific areas within the garden and fill them in with different colours and sizes of pebbles to a depth of 2.5 cm (1 inch).
Design the pebble garden to be any size or shape desired. Some pebble gardens are as small as 1.8 metres (6 feet) in diameter and are intended to simply be a peaceful place to please the eye.
Have a friend help with handling the heavy sleepers.
Provide an adequate weed and grass barrier, because treating weeds and grass afterwards is very difficult.