15 Pea Gravel Patio Pros and Cons

Pea gravel is a small, smooth stone that homeowners and contractors use often for their gardening, landscaping, and outdoor construction needs. It is named because the product is comparable to the size of green peas. You can place it for use in almost any situation for landscaping, including lawn accents, landscaped walkways, drainage assistance, or even as a driveway.

All pea gravel products are 1/4-inch or less in size, although a minimum diameter if 1/8-inch is usually required. There are some varieties that will provide stones that are up to 1.25 inches in size, although the larger products are not considered to be a standard gravel product. It comes in a variety of colors that includes gray, yellow, white, and beige, although some stones may appear to be translucent.

If you have a local landscape supply provider in your community, then you can purchase this product directly from them at a reasonable rate. Most decorative pea gravel is about $55 per ton or less, with bulk rates available for purchases of 20 tons or more (and sometimes less) depending on the policies of the business.

Another unique option for this landscaping product is to create a pea gravel patio.

List of the Pros of a Pea Gravel Patio

1. It is a low-cost option that can produce exceptional results.
You can usually create an entire patio from pea gravel from 1 ton of material. You’ll want to lay down some landscaping fabric before you place the stones down in your yard to prevent weed growth in the future. Some properties may need to compact the ground before delivery as well. Then you just scoop up the gravel, place it where you want it to be, and you’re ready to start enjoying the outdoors with your new patio. It is cheaper than pavers, easier to lay than flagstone, and you can usually get the job done in just a day.

2. You can walk on it barefoot without experiencing discomfort.
Because pea gravel is smaller and usually rounded in shape, it is easier to walk on this product with a variety of footwear. You can even use your new patio barefoot if you want since there are fewer sharp edges that can bother your feet. Although this material can act like sand and get stuck in your shoes or sandals, it is a product which generally stays put and is easy to maintain in any situation.

3. There are some creative options available for you with pea gravel.
When you decide to use pea gravel for your patio, then its small size gives you a lot of versatility when implementing your final design. There is the option to mix it with other stones and gravel-like material to create a stunning landscaping feature. You can allow it to stand on its own, fill in the gaps between pavers, or use it as an accent around a birdfeeder, statue, or another element in your backyard that you wish to highlight. Anyone can install it as well since all you need to do is lay a border and then place the product.

4. Pea gravel will naturally prevent weed growth by itself.
If you don’t want to take the time to lay down a landscaping fabric before you place the pea gravel for your porch, then there’s still some good news. When this landscaping product is at least 4 inches thick, then it will naturally prevent unwanted weeds from growing in your patio. This advantage also means that a thicker layer stays free of messes more often than other materials since the rain will not make it muddy. That means there are typically fewer pest problems on your property when you start using this material for your patio.

5. You can lay pea gravel flat without worrying about flooding issues.
When you use other gravels for your landscaping and patio needs, then you must place the product on a slight incline so that you don’t have rainwater accumulating on the surface. If you have a pea gravel structure in place for your patio, then the water soaks into the stones instead of running over it. That means you don’t need to worry about changing the slope of your yard to create a result. You will get to control erosion and improve drainage while gaining another usable spot on your property.

6. It is a product that is widely available.
If you like the idea of installing a pea gravel patio on your property, then here’s some good news. You will find that it is available through most retail suppliers. If you don’t have a landscaping servicer in your community, then most hardware stores will sell this product by the bag. You can even shop online through Amazon to purchase this product 5-40 pounds at a time to slowly start building your new patio. That way you can create the perfect backyard oasis no matter where you happen to live.

7. Pea gravel will begin to compact over time for you.
When you place heavy objects on pea gravel over time, the surface will begin to compact and harden for you. This process can increase if you place a binding oil with the product as it compresses. It is the same process that some communities use to resurface roads. You can then receive a solid surface for a fraction of the cost of installing a new concrete patio or one made of exotic stones.

List of the Cons of a Pea Gravel Patio

1. You must create an edge barrier for a pea gravel patio to work.
Pea gravel likes to migrate when you use it as a landscaping option. If you create a patio with this material, then you will find it being transported across your yard with relative ease. It can quickly make its way into garden beds, your lawn, or even into your home as people walk across it each day. The only way to stop this disadvantage is to edge the patio entirely to stop it from spreading. That means you must create a step up to use the surface, which can reduce some of the monetary savings that are possible with this option.

2. The gravel will eventually shift from its intended place.
Pea gravel requires a lot of care to be an effective surface for a patio. Even if you place a layer that is 4-6 inches thick, you will find that footprints will quickly dislodge large areas of the surface. You will need to keep raking it back into place to create the aesthetics that you want with this option. There are times when you might need to add more gravel to it as well at regular intervals to replace what you lose.

3. You must create a firm foundation for your patio to be useful.
Even though you are using pea gravel for your patio, you’ll still need to create a firm foundation for the product so that it won’t shift as much over time. That means you’ll need to prepare your patio site as if you were building a concrete or flagstone surface for it to be useful. A base layer of rock must be fixed underneath your patio surface to prevent the gravel from shifting. If you don’t take the time to create this base, then it may not take long for your surface to become unusable.

4. Pea gravel patios do not work well with furniture.
You will soon discover that most furniture options do not work well when you place them on a pea gravel surface. The weight of the product causes it to sink into this surface, even when you have a firm foundation placed for it. If you want to use this space as an outdoor dining area, then you’ll need a minimum layer of six inches before the surface becomes usable, and then you’ll still need to fix a base rock underneath it to prevent shifting. If you fail to take these precautions with your new patio, then you run the risk of damaging your furniture items over time.

5. This landscaping product will still sink into the soil.
Pea gravel will not decompose or crack over time like stones or pavers do when you create a patio, but this product will begin to sink into the soil over time. That is another reason why you must continue to replenish this surface. Most homeowners need to start adding new product to their patio within 24-36 months of their initial installation. If you have porous soil on your property, then you might find this disadvantage is an annual headache for you to start managing.

6. Weed growth can still happen in thick pea gravel layers.
Although a 4-inch layer of pea gravel will stop weed growth from happening at the soil level, it will not prevent all weeds from growing on your patio. If there are any organic elements in the rocks that you install on your property, then unwanted seeds can begin germinating within a couple of months. This disadvantage may occur even if you have landscaping fabric installed underneath the gravel to prevent growth. These weeds are easy to pull since their root base stays in the rock layer, but it is still an extra chore that you’ll need to do that a concrete patio might not require.

7. Snow removal can be a headache with a pea gravel patio.
You will find that a pea gravel patio is fairly easy to maintain as long as you take some proactive maintenance actions, like raking the rocks back into place. This work will help to keep the patio nice and level. Your one real challenge will happen if you need to remove snow from this surface. You must use a shovel for thicker snow until you get a thin surface right above the pebbles, and then you can use a leaf blower or salt to remove the rest of the surface.

If you have snow or mud on your shoes, then a pea gravel patio can be a problem as well. The small stones will stick to your soles in a manner similar to sprinkles on an ice cream cone.

8. Pea gravel continues to polish and shape itself over time.
If you are using peak gravel with other pavers, flagstone, or slate, then the stones will continue to polish and round themselves over time as you walk over them. This process turns the pebbles into something resembling a marble, which means they can roll underneath your foot if you catch them just right. You’ll experience a lot of movement with this surface as it is, so it might be more useful to pursue a product like concrete exposed aggregate to reduce the issues of product movement and stability.

The pros and cons of a pea gravel patio are essential to consider if you’re looking for a fast, affordable way to upgrade your property. You can turn an unused space into something fun and dynamic by choosing this option. As long as you manage the potential adverse outcomes with care and invest in a refreshment of the stones every so often, you will discover that the visual aesthetic that this product offers is worth every penny of your investment.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.