How to Stabilize Pea Gravel? 2

How to Stabilize Pea Gravel?

Pea gravel is small round stones that range in size from about one-eighth to three-eighths of an inch; the size of a pea.  It is not hard on your bare feet when you walk on it because they are smooth.  With gravel that size, what would you use it for, and how would you stabilize it?  Let’s find out

So, how do you stabilize pea gravel? Stabilizing pea gravel is all about careful preparation.  Ensuring there is proper drainage, edging, and a well-prepared site free of roots, sticks, and rocks will go a long way to making sure the pea gravel stays where it’s supposed to.  Read on for more in-depth information, 

All About pea Gravel

As mentioned, pea gravel is small; about the size of a pea.  The gravel comes in a variety of shades like buff, brown, white, translucent, and gray.  You can usually find it at most garden supply stores and is inexpensive gravel.

With its lightweight and small size, pea gravel is easy to work with.  It is easy to move from place to place and rakes well.  If you decide to use it along driveways, patios, or pathways you should spread it at least three inches thick to keep it from sinking into the soil.

This type of gravel will let water flow through the stones easily so it allows for greater permeability.  Because of its smooth finish, it is often used in high-traffic areas.

What is it Used For?

There are many uses for pea gravel.

  • Covering driveways and walkways
  • A filler between pavers
  • Mulch
  • Outline a garden pond
  • Rodent deterrent as they cannot chew through pea gravel
  • In aquariums
  • The base of container plants
  • In aquaponics
  • On playgrounds

How to Stabilize pea Gravel on a Patio

When you are using your pea gravel to make a patio, there will be some type of binding agent used.  The first thing you need to do is to make sure that the area is cleaned of all dry organic material.  You can then use a rake to level the surface where the pea gravel is going. 

Line the edge of the patio with tape and paper to protect it from the binding agent.  After putting down the pea gravel let it sit for three days.  Follow the manufacturing’s directions for mixing the binding agent.  Always wear gloves.  

Once mixed slowly pour it over the pea gravel in even light layers.  With a large area, you may have to do two or three coats of the binding material.  Allow it to dry for 24 hours between each coat.  When it is drying make sure that no one walks or steps on the patio.

Once you have put on the final coat of binding, you need to test it for stability.  If the pea gravel does not move or feel slippery, it is stabilized.  If it still fills slippery or moves a little you will have to apply another coat of the binder.  

Before the coat is dry apply some sand over the binding solution and let it dry for another 24 hours.  By doing this.  it will help you to enjoy your stabilized pea gravel for years to come.

Stabilizing pea Gravel for a Driveway

The first thing to do is to make sure that all leaves, tree limbs, and mud are removed from the driveway.  If they are left behind, they will not compact enough to support vehicle traffic.  You will need to dig down 8-12 inches below the surface of the driveway so you can rid of any roots that might be there.  Doing this will help to stabilize your pea gravel driveway.

Then you will need to fix any drain issues.  Water can loosen gravel in a driveway and you do not want it all to run out to the street, your yard, or drainage ditch after a rain.

If there are any low spots or potholes you need to fill them in.  You want to make sure that you fill them with enough to make it level with the rest of the driveway.  After putting the gravel down, you need to compact it by driving back and forth over the driveway until it is compacted.

You do not need to use a binding agent on the driveway.  Just make sure that the driveway is firm and you do not leave any tire tracks when you drive on it.  To make sure that the pea gravel does not move you can use edge restraints to keep the gravel on the driveway and not in the yard.

Installing and stabilizing pea Gravel in General

When pea gravel is loose it is more likely to travel or move away from where you put it by some means, such as when you walk on it.   To keep it stable, you should use an edging material; stones, metal edging, or bricks.  

When compared to other hardscaping materials, it is relatively simple to install loose pea gravel.  Before laying pea gravel, you need to work the soil to a depth of six inches.  You will also want to put down a two-inch layer of coarse crushed rock.  Next comes a three-inch layer of pea gravel.  The base rock is what will help to stabilize the gravel.

It does this by offering a firm supporting surface.  If there are a lot of weeds, you may want to consider adding a landscape fabric between the pea gravel and base rock.  Overtime this landscape fabric can become visible or degrade.

If your gravel pathway is very slippery and acts as a pile of marbles, this is a sign that you did not have a rock base under it.  To help with the slipperiness, you can add some stone dust to stabilize it.

Tips for Stabilizing pea Gravel

  • When you work the soil, make sure that you tamp the earth with a hand tamper to make a more compact surface.
  • The base rock should be rough gravel that will large enough to allow the pointy edges. This is so they can interlock.  It also needs to be heavy enough that it will now be washed away in the storm.
  • Tamp the base rock so that it does not move because it is what supports the pea gravel.
  • You can add a layer of decomposed granite between the base rock and the pea gravel. The decomposed granite will help set the pea gravel and not move when walked on.


Pea gravel is a great, inexpensive material and if you are just putting it around trees or anything where it does not have to be stable, you may have to replace it every four years because it will sink into the ground.  On average, pea gravel costs about $5 per square foot and generally comes in 50-pound bags.  If you do it, then it will be a little cheaper.

Pea gravel also helps to prevent erosion and helps to improve drainage.  A big drawback with pea gravel is that if you are using it for a walkway or around a tree and it is not stabilized, then it is harder to get out of the soil if you are changing the landscape.

When you are using pea gravel in your garden, making a walkway, using it as mulch, make sure that you are not putting it directly on the soil. You should always put a layer of landscaping fabric between the soil and pea gravel.  This discourages weeds and plants from growing that could ruin the beauty of the pea gravel.

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