Sharing our step by step tips for installing this budget savvy walkway. Using traditional materials, like gravel, mulch or crushed brick, this project is affordable and beginner friendly.
During my parent’s home renovation, one of the biggest goals was to add inviting curb appeal and to spruce up the front exterior. Oddly, there was never a path to the front door. We were on a tight timeline and a budget, so a gravel path was the perfect solution. This simple little project made a HUGE difference!
Gravel Walkway Ideas
In about a weekend’s time, you’ll have a natural-looking, weed-free way to walk through your perfect landscape. These installs are great ways to cover unsightly high-traffic areas where grass just won’t grow. You aren’t limited to just a path! You can use these steps to create seating areas, fire pits, or cover areas that are hard to mow.
Supplies You Will Need
- a mattock or shovel to dig
- spray paint or string to mark the lines of the path
- landscaping tarp like this (you’ll want something tough enough to stand up to the rock grinding into it while walking)
- gravel (about 25-30 lbs per square foot depending on gravel size)
- Edging (options discussed below)
Pro Tip: For weed control and a strong foundation, sand or stone pack make for a great 2 inch base below the gravel. Landscaping tarp is another budget friendly option, but may deteriorate over time.
Types of Gravel for Walkways
The size and type of gravel or crushed stone is a matter of personal choice. We chose 1 inch limestone rock chips.
Gravel is most commonly made of either basalt, limestone, or sandstone. You can also purchase tumbled stone, which is rounded and smoother on the surface. You can use larger rocks or choose something like a pea gravel walkway which uses smaller, rounded stones.
Step 1: Decide the Path Shape
The cool thing about a gravel walkway is that you can create any shape you can imagine! Frolicking curves, narrow to wide, or rigidly straight. We used two garden hoses to perfect the shape we wanted and then spray painted the edge.
Step 2: Foundation and Trench
Dig about 4-6 inches evenly throughout the whole path. This allows for enough stacking of the stone so that none of the bottom will show through. At my parents house, the area right next to the steps tends to pool water, so we dug a little less there to compensate for even drainage.
After digging the trench, we laid landscaping tarp over the area to keep weeds and grass from growing in our new path. The weight of the rocks will hold the tarp down, so there’s no need to stake it in the ground.
As stated earlier, a sand or stone pack foundation will last longer. However, we were working in rock-hard Tennessee clay, so the soil is already compacted enough for a great foundation. If you live in a sandy soil climate, you may consider adding some stone pack for a solid base.
Step 3: Add The Stone
Truth time. I’m not going to sugar coat it; this is a back breaking job if you’re laying a lot of gravel. We installed nearly 1800 lbs for this walkway. We had a local quarry load the stones into our truck, so that saved at least half of the lifting. The gravel was only $1 per 100 lbs at the quarry, so double win! Our new walkway is about 18 feet long and over 3 feet wide.
We shoveled the rock into the trench until it matched the same height as the surrounding soil and landscaping. We wanted to allow for settling, so we didn’t skimp on the amount of stone.
Pro Tip: For a 4 inch deep trench, you need about 35lbs per square foot of gravel. This does not include additional depth for a base like sand, crushed rock, or smaller gravel.
Step 4: Edge the path
There are a couple of different options for edging and designing the gravel path.
For a tall edging, like these practical steel sections or these fun wooden logs, I recommend placing them before putting the gravel stone in. Most can come in both curved and straight variations or can be bent for customization.
We chose to top the edges of our path with paver stones that interlock. To complement the path, we added new landscaping on the house side. The plants look a little small for now. But in a few years, those bushes will be bursting!
What do you think? Big improvement- right?!
For a depth of 4 inches, you will need approximately 35lbs per square foot.
Yes, the instructions are similar as with a path. The base needs to be sturdy so I recommend a 2 or 3 layer system to keep the driveway lasting for a long time.
The gravel top layer should be at least 4-6 inches deep and laid on top of a bottom layer of crushed rock that is ideally 2-4 inches deep.
A gravel path is comprised of two layers. The layer under the gravel can be comprised of a landscaping tarp, crushed rock, or stone pack if using paver stones.
If you’re curious about some of the other improvements we’ve been making to this craftsman log home, check out our other posts (seriously, the BEST before and afters!):
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How To Lay A Gravel Path
- a mattock or shovel
- Marking Paint or String to mark the lines of the path
- Weed Control Base *See Notes for options
- Gravel 30-35lbs per square foot depending on size
- Edging Material
- Decide the shape of the path. Spray the outer shape with marking paint or use string.
- Dig a 4 inch deep trench evenly throughout. Adjust for areas that may pool water. If you plan to use a 2 layer system, dig at least 6 inches deep.
- Lay a foundation to keep weeds out and to help keep the gravel packed down. For sandy or loamy soils, adding stone pack creates solid base. For hard soils that don't grow grass well, you can use a landscaping tarp to keep weeds out.
- Add the gravel stones. For a 4 inch depth, you need about 35lbs per square foot.
- Edge the path with landscape edging, paver stones, or natural barriers like logs.