Rewind: Pea Gravel Pathways – Oh Our Aching Backs!
A thousand pounds of pea gravel, one shovel full at a time.
I should explain that I have a gravel path or open walking area for my garden. I have had it that way for several years and I really like it. We once tried a load of “crushed limestone” which is supposed to have the sharp edges that make it pack down tightly and make good pathways.
You see, I am a country girl and I like to go barefoot a lot. That sharp limestone is so hard to walk on! I go out in the morning in my jammies and I like to be able to walk in the garden barefoot if I want to. Pea gravel has smooth sides and is much more amenable to barefeet. Problem solved.
The Best thing about gravel areas? Little succulent sprigs root well and give you a new plant so easily.
The Worst thing about gravel areas? Weeds………………….lots of sprouting weeds ….lots!
And those cute little wood violets that look so purple sprinkled around the garden in the spring, these are the Devil’s handiwork a month later. They end up all over! Hundreds of them.
Easiest Way to Clean Pea Gravel Paths?
I use plain vinegar. I just buy it at the grocery store, that 5% solution is great for killing weeds. I don’t dilute or anything. I don’t even add salt or dishwashing soap. I just screw on a spray attachment to a quart bottle of vinegar and I can control the weeds as they pop their little heads up through the gravel.
However, if I am not diligent, the weeds can get overwhelming quickly and then you have to pull in the big guns. I use a tank garden sprayer with a shoulder strap. This works out to do a large area that you need to cover. If you spray on a hot dry day, the weeds will die out usually by the end of the day.
Do not get the vinegar spray on the plants you want. It will kill them too! But if you are careful, this is so simple and easy to keep you weed free. It is best done every week. Or when you see a lot of weed sprouts coming up, such as after a rain.
Back to my Pea Gravel Paths
For my birthday, I only wanted some pea gravel and help spreading it in my garden. Hey, I am easy! So we took off for our local landscaping supply yard. The pea gravel is only $28.95 per cubic yard. We got a half yard which is about 1000 lbs of pea gravel. Yikes!
We can’t get our truck into the backyard, so my husband usually gets out his Quad to pull the trailer into the yard and park it by the garden. Then we can shovel and wheelbarrow the gravel into the beds. ( After the weeds are cleaned out, of course.)
We made sure when we had the fence put up that we made a double gate so we could get big loads through. But Oops! I put a big shade garden there. So now he can’t drive the truck back there. Neither can we have a large truck deliver and dump things back there. But that is just the way it is.
So he backed up the loaded trailer right next to the garden and he and I have worked off and on shoveling rock! Oh the joys of gardening! Or some such words I keep hearing Jerry muttering under his breath.
Shoveling Pea Gravel
Fearsome words, but it has gone faster than I thought it would. I only worked about an hour this morning and then Jerry and I both worked for about another hour. We can’t sustain long periods of work this hard like we did when we were younger. But it is looking good!
Here is a photo of the small aisle between some of my larger hypertufa troughs. The gravel gets weeds in it, but also small sprouts of new sedum and succulents grow there too. I make sure I dig them all out before I treat with the vinegar.
We may need another half-yard of pea gravel, since I like it to be about 5 inches deep. I don’t put landscape cloth under it because I hate that stuff. I have previously put newspaper and cardboard box material under there. That works well. But now I just have to refresh the gravel every 2 or 3 years. But I like it.
It will be done soon……….I hope the Tylenol and BenGay don’t run out before then.
Update: We have moved away from this house and almost all of these plants. I really miss them. Wonder if the new owners kept the gravel beds for flowers or vegetables?
I love the picture of that pea gravel pathway with the 4 x 4 wood posts and the purple flowers in the background. It also looks great how the gravel is on both sides of the path. This seems like a great option to do at a local park. Finding a company that can deliver this type of gravel might be a great option to help beautify a city.
Several years ago, my husband bought me a 4 wheel “dump” wagon from Home Depot. We haul 1/2 a yard of white tiny ‘drain’ rock , in our S-10 chevy pick up and line the truck with a large tarp just before they dump the rock in it. This allows us to put 5 gallon buckets in the wagon, and shoveling into the buckets, then I pull the wagon into our back yard [about 100 yards away from our driveway].
We have a japaneze garden with small shrubs, and mums, and a few bulbs. We DO line the garden beds with professional CLOTH, [that is thick like a blanket] and drains well. It keeps the rock from sinking into the ground. We put thick layers of compost, under the weed cloth, then the drain rock on top. It looks beautiful and only costs about $14 per 1/2 yard which is our truck full. When the truck is almost empty, you can lift the tarp and pour the rest into the buckets, and dump them exactly where you want them, which is easier on the back than, raking the rock into place……….We love it and everyone asks where we get the beautiful landscape rock [shhhhhhh LOL]. My husband begins the day with 3 advil [600mg.] to ease the ‘after’ pain.
Wow, it sounds like you’ve really got a beautiful garden and a great plan. I really loved my gravel garden, and for me, it was so much easier to take care of. Still can’t love the cloth, though. I have run into a lot here at the new house and am slowly pulling the rotted stuff out. Just can’t warm up to it.
What do you mean by ‘refresh’ the gravel? Do you just add new stuff on top, or take out all the old stuff and then put in new stuff? I love the idea and look of pea gravel, but I don’t want it if it’s going to be a huge hassle. Thanks!
We have had gravel for a while, but it does “sink” after a while and needs to have a new added layer, so I have called it a “refresh.” I just clean out as much weeds as possible (vinegar) and then just pour it on/shovel it on. I really like the way it looks. All refreshed, in most places it is about 6-8 inches deep. Suppresses the weeds great. If one pokes up….vinegar.
Lots of work but you got great results.
It sure was a lot of work, glad it is done!
Despite the pain, your garden looks beautiful!!
Alix | http://www.apintsizedlife.com
Thank you so much. A little bit of Tylenol and I am good to go again. But it is finally done!
Thanks for the vinegar tip! I should have thought of it myself. I moved into a new house a couple of months ago and it has a gravel driveway. I’ve been digging out the weeds by hand. I won’t use pesticides since my lawn is full of clover and bees. I’m going to try the vinegar approach and see if it helps, although I think I’ll still be digging the Bermuda grass out by hand!
Thank you, I know you will like the vinegar as a weed killer. I have sprayed and it just keeps them wilted/dead. Easy to rake away and so little effort.
I had to laugh when I read this article because it reminded me of a project I did about 4 years ago. I wanted to make a prairie type garden with pea gravel and drought tolerant plants. It is quite large about 40 feet by 25 feet and it took a whole load of pea gravel which is about 14 tons!. I did put down garden cloth and then the job began. The truck wasn’t able to get close enough as I wanted so we had to manually move all that stone. Thank God for my grandsons and daughter helping. Even so we were exhausted and we did not finish to the following Spring. It is beautiful now but still get weeds unless I spray with the vinegar in the Spring. Thanks for the memory.
Wow, now that is a PROJECT. I cannot imagine 14 tons. You really have a nice garden, and I think easier to weed. I am still surprised at how well the vinegar works. I can zapp that clover now! Aren’t you glad for family coming over to help?
I’m glad I’m not the only one out in the garden barefoot and in pajamas!
Love the pea gravel. I think I might use some of that in between the big rocks in my “dry river bed” to keep the weeds from sprouting up so often.
I wouldn’t miss the morning in the garden. And I am barefoot or flip flops whenever I can!
Your gardens are beautiful! Great job on the paths 🙂