What is Pea Gravel and Should You Use It?
Pea gravel is becoming a popular material choice for homeowners, but what is pea gravel and should you be using it?
What is pea gravel?
Pea gravel is often confused for crushed stone, but these two aggregates are different. Crushed stone is typically larger than pea gravel, coarser to the touch, and is usually only available in shades of white or grey.
Pea gravel, also known as pea shingle, consists of small stones with rounded edges that have become smooth as a result of natural weathering. The stones are very small, usually only around 6-10mm, and come in a range of colours, including neutral colours like grey and brown but also more vibrant colours like pink and blue.
It tends to be chosen over crushed stone for landscaping projects because it has an appealing aesthetic. Common applications include flower bed landscaping and driveways and walkways, which we explore in more detail below.
How is pea gravel made?
Pea gravel is formed naturally and usually found near bodies of water, where the water has eroded river rocks over time into smooth, pea-sized pebbles, giving them their trademark texture.
What can pea gravel be used for?
Pea gravel can be used in a range of applications and one benefit that might appeal to some homeowners is that it is an inexpensive option. It’s also very easy to install and maintain – simply raking the stones into place will have pea gravel looking as good as new.
Landscaping – because of its colourful tones and smooth texture, pea gravel can be a fantastic accompaniment to many landscaping projects, such as around flower beds.
Driveways – pea gravel is very durable with good drainage and is also easy to maintain, making it a solid choice for driveways.
Walkways – because of its smooth surfaces and rounded edges, pea gravel can be an attractive and safe walkway material, while providing a satisfying crunch underfoot.
Base for paving stones – due to its small size and natural strength, pea gravel can form a solid foundation beneath paving stones.
Mulching material around plants – pea gravel prevents weed growth and retains moisture, making it a good choice of mulching material.
House borders – pea gravel has excellent drainage and acts as a barrier against rodents as they can’t dig through it.
How does pea gravel compare to the alternatives?
As mentioned earlier, pea gravel is often confused with other, similar materials such as crushed stone or crushed granite. Pea gravel is naturally much smoother than both these alternatives, which usually makes it more pleasant to walk on. It’s often more colourful and it is also typically a cheaper option.
Crushed stone and crushed granite are used in similar applications and these materials do come with their own benefits. Loose-fill applications work better with larger stones like these, and granite is incredibly strong, making it a good choice for driveways. The rougher, jagged aesthetic of these materials may also be more appealing for some than the rounded look of pea gravel.
We think pea gravel is a fantastic material for a range of applications, but your individual taste is an important factor in finding the right material for your landscaping needs. If you are looking for pea gravel, we stock a range of different sizes, which you can find here, along with our other aggregate and sand products.