How to Install a Pea Gravel Driveway

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What You'll Need
Wheel barrel
Gardening Gloves
Long handled shovel
Landscape fabric
Tape measure
Utility knife
Twine and pegs
Plastic edging
Landscaping spray - 2 colors

Pea gravel is made up of small, smooth rounded stones that can be used on any walking surface and on driveways. The stone's brown and white color gives it a natural look that's attractive with any landscaping. Pea gravel is much cheaper and more environmentally friendly to install than concrete or asphalt. It's also easier to install for the do-it-yourselfer since no special equipment is required. Follow these steps to install a pea gravel driveway in as little as one day.

Step 1 - The Prep Work

Decide on the shape of your pea gravel parking area. Short driveways are the simplest since they tend to be a straight line. Longer driveways require a bit more work since they're more often contoured. Use one of the landscaping sprays to roughly draw the shape and width of your driveway. Then with a tape measure, make sure the width is consistent and use the second color of landscaping spray to finalize the size, width and shape of the driveway. Alternately, you can use a hose to outline the space and spray paint to mark it.

Write down the length and width measurements and take these to your local garden center to determine how much pea gravel you'll need. There is no charge for this service at most garden centers, but read the final paragraph in Step 1 to find out how to figure out the amount of pea gravel yourself. You'll need to have approximately 2 1/2- to 3 inches of pea gravel. While you're at the center with your measurements, make sure you buy enough landscape fabric and plastic edging as well. It's fine to use another type of edging, if you prefer, but the plastic is flexible and easiest to use for the do-it-yourselfer. Arrange for delivery.

To determine the amount of pea gravel required yourself, multiply the length and the width of the drive for the square footage. Then multiply this number by 2 1/2 or 3, depending on how many inches of pea gravel you would like to use.

Step 2 - Excavate the Area

Home under construction with unfinished driveway

Clear the area where you'll be putting the driveway of any grass, plants, and tree roots or soil. Use the shovel blade to cut and remove plant matter as well as about a 3-inch layer of soil where the pea gravel will be placed. Don't forget to dig thin trenches on the side for the garden edging. Rake the surface smooth and level using a level or pegs and twine. If using pegs and twine, level the soil with the twine. Do the same when leveling the pea gravel.

Step 3 - Install Landscape Fabric and Edging

Measure and cut the correct amount of landscaping fabric. Make sure you cut it wide enough to cover the entire width of the driveway as well as the edging. Install the edging, tucking it carefully along the edges so that it won't move over time.

Step 4 - Pour the Pea Gravel

raking a pile of gravel

Use the wheel barrel to transfer the pea gravel from the pile to the driveway. Begin at one end and work toward the other end, raking and leveling off each section as you finish it. When you're finished pouring all the pea gravel, double check the surface to make sure it's level.