Choosing the Best Gravel for Your Landscaping Project

A question that we get asked a lot at our landscape material center in Manchester is regarding what type of gravel is best to use in a landscaping project. The answer (as you might have guessed) is, “it depends.” There are different types of gravel that perform differently. Choosing the best gravel for your landscaping project depends upon what you are trying to do. Hopefully this blog post can clear some of that up for you.

Patio Base. The best gravel for using underneath a brick patio or concrete block retaining wall is often referred to as “processed gravel” “crushed base” or “bank run gravel.” This type of gravel has a mixture of fines that aid in compaction. It may look like sand with rocks in it. In New Hampshire, a patio base has to be the right material, or else the paving stones will heave from the frost.

A crushed stone material like stone dust has too many fines. It’s not the “stone” in stone dust, but rather the “dust” that is a problem with frost. Fines hold water and expand when frost leaves the ground in spring time. Crushed base has fines in it, but any particles that are too fine had been removed with a sieve. Crushed base that is used under roads has to pass state specifications regarding a minimum amount of fines.

Drainage Stone. In the absence of a gutter on the home, many people like to use a crushed stone drip edge to keep the storm water roof run-off from splashing dirt on their home siding. Not to be confused with crushed base, crushed stone is a free-draining aggregate that is crushed down to three-quarter inch or 1 ½ inch.

Crushed blue stone

Crushed granite stone is processed from blasted granite ledge that is very common in New Hampshire, so it is the most economical solution for drainage. Three-quarter inch is the most popular size that is used for drip edges along foundations or drainage behind retaining walls. At our material center on Hanover Street, we offer crushed Bluestone as well – a fancier, more attractive variety of the same type of drainage stone.

River Stone. Gravel can be a very good substitute for bark mulch. It absorbs the heat of the sun keeps the soil cool and moist throughout the summer. Weeds pull up fairly easily through gravel. One disadvantage of an aggregate-type of stone, however, is the sharp edges. River stone is the best choice for garden pathways in planting beds. Sifted down to an inch and a half, this naturally rounded stone is heavy enough to stay put, but is easy underfoot and gentle to the stems of plants. If you are putting in a Koi pond or similar type of water feature, river stone is of course the natural choice.

See our materials page for pricing and delivery options.