Benefits of Gravel Beds Around your Home

Jul 18, 2019

Gravel is a very important material for gardeners, landscapers and construction workers. It can be used to create an effective water barrier around foundations and be an attractive addition to your garden.

One of the main advantages of using gravel around your house is its versatility. It's available in a wide range of colours and sizes so that it's aesthetically pleasing and capable of completing numerous jobs. Gravel is incredibly efficient in gardens and for small projects, as well as bigger projects such as building homes. 

When you're working with a tight budget, gravel is often the go-to material because it's cheap, especially if you source it locally instead of importing it from abroad.

Gravel is also relatively easy to lay and only requires a low level of maintenance. With all this in mind, it's easy to understand that there are many benefits of having gravel beds around the foundations of your home.

Gravel Beds Help To Prevent Overgrown Weeds

Having gravel beds around the foundations of your house is one of the most cost-effective methods of preventing overgrown weeds and shrubs, and possibly soil mounds, from infiltrating the building.

The final step of preparing the ground involves laying a weed membrane to discourage unwanted growth. Stopping weed growth using a gravel bed next to the house wall will not only help with maintenance, but it will also keep the building looking tidy. 

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Gravel Beds Provide Natural Drainage

Gravel naturally has great draining capabilities which help to stop the accumulation of unwanted water and prevent any plants from being drowned during periods of heavy rain. 

Water drains more quickly through gravel compared to most types of soil, so puddles form less-readily on gravel-covered pathways and borders than they do on soil surfaces.

Although water will drain through gravel, the underlying soil's profile is what ultimately determines the overall soil drainage.

Learn More About The Different Types of Soil

In order to get the best drainage results, the soil must slope away from the foundation. If you build on a slope and you have a gravel bed, you will basically have a natural irrigation system that runs all the groundwater down and away from the building.

NOTE: Do not lay gravel next to the foundation if the soil does not slope away from the foundation. It will effectively act like a dam preventing water runoff and evaporation from the soil surface.

Gravel Beds Stops Excess Moisture Gathering

Gravel beds don't retain moisture which makes them perfect to prevent a number of different issues that can afflict the property if the foundations become too moist.

Termites and other pests thrive in the moist conditions provided by organic mulch - which is a very popular alternative to gravel beds.

Although there's no guarantee that gravel won't keep the soil below it moist, it's less capable of absorbing and retaining moisture to provide the preferred condition for pests to develop a colony.

Gravel Beds Help To Heat The Property

As well as being effective in very wet conditions, gravel is equally useful when there's little or no rain - making it the perfect setting for Mediterranean plants such as euphorbia and lavender.

When exposed to sunlight, gravel will heat up because it's a solid material. This heat is radiated back out after the sun sets, helping to heat the property.

In addition, this radiation process helps to get rid of excess moisture under the property by evaporating it. It's also able to melt ice and snow more quickly than mulch.

How To Add A Gravel Barrier Around Your House

Below is a universal guide on how to prepare the ground to add a gravel barrier around your house:

  1. Clear the space of all vegetation - this includes regular grass as well as weeds and plants
  2. Dig over the ground once or twice to enhance the condition of the top layer of soil
  3. Rake well to even out the surface and break down any lumps and bumps
  4. Dig an outside border (about 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep) to separate the barrier from the surrounding area
  5. Lay a weed membrane or plant liner over the prepared area
  6. Spread the gravel as evenly as possible over the membrane or liner - you will likely need around 40kg of 20mm gravel to cover one square metre using the measurements in step 4
  7. Rake the gravel to smooth out any uneven spots. Keep any excess gravel to fill any future bald patches

What Type Of Gravel Should I Use For A Gravel Bed?

There is a range of different-sized gravel available. Fine grades are 10mm or less, whereas chunkier types are 20mm or more. Pea gravel, crushed stones and different coloured slate chippings can all be used to fill the gravel barrier around your house.

Very small gravel is the most difficult to work with because it can easily escape outside the borders you've set. In addition, cats may be inclined to use it as a litter tray.

Medium-grade gravels are easier to work with, just beware of the sharp edges that you can sometimes get with crushed stone - they may present a hazard for bare-feet and pets.

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