Decorative pebbles are a beautiful part of many modern gardens. They enhance almost any planting scheme and, as a bonus, deter weeds.
Decorative gravel for driveways and paths
When you are completing a driveway or path, there are a few things to bear in mind. The ideal stone for this purpose is a gravel – crushed products like decomposed granite or crushed tile. These products have irregular edges that compact into a solid base to drive or walk on.
You can also use smaller pebbles, such as Somersby, Nepean River or Hunter River pebbles for paths or driveways – but be careful of the size. Don’t use anything bigger than 5-10mm for paths or 20mm for driveways. Bigger stones can be dangerous because they tend to slip around when you walk on them, and avoid round smooth stones, which won’t compact to a solid base.
When laying a driveway or path, first create a solid base using blue metal or road base to a depth of at least 100mm, and then add a layer of at least 50mm of your decorative gravel. Never lay stones on a concrete surface – they will move around and can be dangerous to walk on.
Decorative pebbles for your garden
Using decorative pebbles in your garden is really only limited by your own taste and imagination. Pebbles come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from ‘Easter egg’ sized Lucky stones right down to pea sized pebbles such as Somersby. As for colours, there is a pebble in almost every colour you could think of, particularly with the advent of polished pebbles on to the market.
Decorative pebbles for vases, pots and planters can look spectacular. Around 20mm deep should be sufficient for this purpose, but if you are laying them in the garden in the hope of restraining weeds, then you will need around 50mm in depth.
There are many imaginative ways to use decorative pebbles in your garden beyond simply spreading them around plants. Lay them between pavers for colour and texture. Use contrasting coloured pebbles to make a pattern such as a spiral or star. Set out a mixture of lucky stones and mixed smaller pebbles of the same type, such as Cowra Gold or Cowra White, in curving shape to mimic a dry river bed. Create a pebbly beach by laying pebbles in a crescent moon shape next to a pond or pool. Or, if you’re artistic, set them into mosaics on the ground or walls, or in garden furniture to make something unique to you.
Decorative pebble tips
Decorative pebbles are a useful way to deter weed growth, but if you do a couple of extra things before you lay them, it will make it even harder for weeds to break through. First give any existing weeds a spray with weedkiller (but avoid any existing plants), and then lay down a layer of fine mulch, followed by a thick layer of pebbles.
Remember that if you lay pale pebbles under non-native trees, they may be covered in fallen leaves and look messy in autumn! Darker pebbles will blend in better to a natural landscape.
If you are concerned about the environment, buy local pebbles. In Australia, river pebbles come from sand mining or deposits left by old waterways, rather than from active waterways that can be damaged. Australian decorative pebbles include Cowra Gold, Cowra White, Nepean River, Hunter River, Somersby pebble.