A gravel or rock path is a simple and economical way to create a walkway that directs foot traffic across your yard and protects your grass. You can’t just throw a trail of gravel down though and call it a day. It takes a little bit of planning and preparation, but it’s still something any DIYer can do in a weekend. Keep reading to find out how to make a simple gravel path for your home.
Step 1: Plan Your Path
Choose your path. Take a walk across your yard from where you want the path to begin to where you want it to end. The path can be straight or curved—it’s your yard, your choice. Use garden hoses or some ropes as a guide to chart the shape and direction of your new path. Use a tape measure to determine the width of your path, ensuring that the width stays consistent along the entire length of your path outline. Adjust your guides accordingly from the beginning of the path to the end. Use landscaping spray paint to mark the outer perimeters of your path along each side. Let the paint dry and then put your hoses or ropes away.
When planning out your path and before doing any kind of excavating, check that there are no underground utility lines running underneath the site. While you won’t be digging too deeply for this project, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Use a tape measure to determine the length of your path. This will help you find out how many square feet of gravel to purchase.
Step 2: Excavate Your Path
Dig out the sod and soil between the boundary lines you made with landscaping paint. You need to dig a trench about 4” into the ground. Use a square-point shovel to cut into the soil along the painted lines at this depth. Once you’ve done this along the entire length of your pathway on both sides, switch to a round-point shovel to dig out all of the soil to a 4" depth.
Ensure that the ground inside your new trench is as flat and level as possible. Tamp down the soil with a tamper. Once the soil is flat and compacted, add a layer of landscaping fabric to the excavated area as a weed barrier.
Keep a wheelbarrow handy to collect your excavated soil and sod and move it elsewhere.
When laying landscaping fabric, overlap different sections of fabric, when necessary. Be sure to overlap by at least 4" to 5" for optimal coverage.
Installing plastic edging on each side of your path will help maintain it and keep the gravel pieces from straying into your grass and surrounding area. Plastic edging usually comes in a roll of black, formed plastic and is easy to install. Because it's flexible and can be bent to fit, it is ideal for making a border along your pathway. Put a length of 5” tall edging into your trench with the rounded top sticking up. The top should only stick out of the trench enough to help keep the gravel from being washed out by rain or kicked out by foot traffic. Anchor the edging into the ground with metal garden-edging stakes placed every few feet.
Step 3: Choose Your Gravel or Rock
Pick the type of gravel or rock you want, taking into consideration its appearance and how it might look with the rest of your landscaping features. Gravel and rock suitable for walkways come in many colors and sizes. Keep in mind that smaller gravel pieces, such as pea gravel or river pebbles, are easier and more comfortable to walk on, as they can be packed tight to create a solid and more or less flat surface suitable for easy walking. Decomposed granite and crushed rock are other common choices.
Step 4: Lay the Gravel or Rock
Spread 4” of gravel or rock evenly on top of the landscaping fabric covering the entire path area. Use a bow rake to spread and smooth out the gravel or rock as you go. Use a tamper to tamp the gravel or rock down along the entire path surface to help pack and level it.
Fill your wheelbarrow with gravel or rock for easy transport along the path. You can use a shovel to scoop gravel or rock into the excavated area before spreading it.
Great Job! You’ve created attractive and functional gravel or rock path for traversing your landscape.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.