Installing a Pea Gravel Patio: Your Step by Step Guide

With winter upon us, it’s only natural to start having those feelings of longing for the warm, lazy days of the summer. With that in mind, it’s never too early to start planning on improving your outdoor living space. For homeowners who enjoy taking advantage of the nice weather, there’s nothing more important than having an area to gather for grill outs, sunbathing and lounging by the pool with a good book.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the means of installing an expensive stone patio, a solid wood deck, or a complicated interlocking brick system.

If that’s the case, what options do you have? Many people have found that the construction of an attractive, affordable and low-maintenance pea gravel patio is an excellent solution. If this notion has piqued your interest, you’ll definitely want to check out our tips for constructing the perfect pea gravel patio.

Installing Your Pea Gravel Patio: DIY or Go With the Pros?

Before we dive into the steps to installing your new pea gravel patio, it’s time to make an important decision: do you want to handle the work on your own, or do you want to hire a contractor? The truly great thing about pea gravel patios is that they’re relatively easy to install and making it a do-it-yourself project is very doable.

However, for those with any physical limitations or other reservations as to their abilities, it may be wise to consult with a professional. Ultimately, the choice is yours. In either event, it’s important to be aware of what is involved with the process so that you can make sure that the job gets done correctly.

Your Step by Step Guide to Installing a Pea Gravel Patio

Certain tools and materials will be required for a pea gravel patio installation. These will usually include the following:

  • Shovel or other excavation machinery (ie: Bobcat)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Hoe or tamping device
  • Rake
  • Pea gravel
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Crushed stone (where needed)
  • Edging material (optional)

Once your supplies have been assembled, you’re ready to move forward with your pea gravel patio installation:

Step 1: Design Layout and Mark Perimeters

The design phase of your pea gravel patio offers you a lot of freedom and flexibility in expressing your own unique sense of style. Be sure to consider the overall size of your property and how large or small you wish your patio to be in proportion to that.

Think about how the space will be used. Then, determine the correct shape and layout to cater to those needs. You may make the decision to consult with a design professional to ensure that your patio will be ideally suited for your property.

Once you have a layout in mind you’ll need to mark off the perimeter of the space with orange marking flags, stakes and twine, or landscaping paint.

Step 2: Excavate the Area

Now that your borders are clearly in place, you’re ready to start digging up the area. For smaller sized patios you may be able to get away with simply using a shovel and wheelbarrow to remove the dirt and haul it away. For larger projects, it’s faster and simpler to rent machinery, like a Bobcat, to do the heavy lifting on your behalf. Use your best discretion when making the decision.

Step 3: Evaluate Soil

As you dig, it’s important that you take a look at the overall texture and consistency of the soil as this will determine how deep you actually need to excavate the area, as well as whether or not you’ll need to make use of a base material like small crushed stone.

In cases where the soil is dense and thickly packed or has a consistency similar to clay, you should be able to compact the soil and rely upon it as a base for the patio. Should you find that the soil is loose or sandy, you’ll need to apply a layer of packed down stone in order to stabilize the area enough for a reliable patio.

If the soil is acting as the base, dig to a depth of 2.5 inches. If rock is needed for a base, dig to a depth of 4.5 inches.

Step 4: Compact Soil and Remove Debris

Regardless of whether you’re using the soil or packed stone as a base, you’ll need to compact the soil along the bottom of the excavated coverage area. As you do this, you should make use of your hoe or shovel in order to cut away and/or remove any roots, rocks, weed, sticks or other debris that may compromise the integrity of the area.

Step 5: Apply Landscaping Fabric

Once the area is leveled out and compacted, it’s a good idea to lay down a layer of landscaping fabric. This material will act as a barrier between the earth and your crushed stone or pea gravel and will prevent weeds, grass or other vegetation from growing up between the rock and detracting from the beauty or functionality of your patio. It will also prevent pests from digging up through the aggregate materials.

Step 6: Introduce Crushed Stone (as needed)

If you have determined that you’ll need a layer of crushed stone to act as the base for your patio, you can then to pour it into the excavated area. You’ll need to create a depth of 2 inches. Be sure to carefully compact and tamp down the stone so that it’s as sturdy as possible.

Step 7: Pour Pea Gravel

At this point you are finally ready to introduce your pea gravel to your patio. This will involve a 2.5 inch layer of crushed aggregate.

Step 8: Compact and Rake Surface

After the pea gravel has even carefully poured into your patio, you will need to take the time compact the stone so that it remains in place throughout usage. Once done, it’s wise to carefully rake over the area to ensure that it is smooth and even throughout.

Step 9: Apply Edging (optional)

There are many homeowners who enjoy the look of surrounding their new pea gravel patio with an attractive edging material. Stone, brick and wood boarders help to keep the pea gravel in place while also accentuating is textures and colors and allowing the area to truly “pop.”

Step 10: Maintain and Enjoy

In order to keep your pea gravel patio looking and functioning beautifully, it’s important that you make it a point to regularly rake over the surface of the stones to remove any sticks, leaves or debris. You may also apply a fresh layer of gravel each year.

Braen Stone is a Leading Pea Gravel Supplier

Braen Stone has been the leading manufacturer and supplier of pea gravel and other crushed stone landscaping materials for more than 110 years. Through the use of locally owned and operated quarries, we are able to maintain total control over the quality of our materials while offering the lowest and most competitive wholesale prices on the market.

Visit us today and speak with a professional about how to properly calculate how much pea gravel and crushed stone you’ll need for your driveway installation, as well as for other tips on completing the work successfully and affordably. Our pea gravel can be picked up or bulk delivered to locations throughout NJ, NY, PA and CT.

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Originally published December 10 2015, updated October 02 2017.

By | 2017-10-09T12:31:03+00:00 August 2nd, 2017|Pea Gravel|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dirk is a Project Manager at Braen Stone. He's an expert on a variety of construction materials and prides himself on helping the company meet the needs of companies large and small.