Have you heard of a gravel garden before? For some people, a gravel garden is the best way to make the most of their outdoor space. While lawns look good, they require a lot of maintenance – something that isn’t an issue with a gravel garden. Gravel also gives you the chance to be more creative – and this could be a good thing if you have an awkward or steep garden to work with.
So, let’s look at some ways to make the most of your own gravel garden, whether you have one already or you’re thinking of switching to one very soon.
New to gravel gardens? Here’s how to prepare to create your own
Depending on the size of your garden, you could turn one area into a gravel garden, or switch over completely to this type of garden layout. You’ll still need to have some idea of a design, otherwise you’ll end up with a large delivery of gravel and no plans on where to put it.
The most important thing to do is to lay down a good covering of landscape fabric on every area where you want the gravel to go. This will ensure only the minimum of weeds will grow through. Even then, you must keep a close eye on the weed population for the first few years. Once this period has passed, you should find you don’t have too many at all.
Decide where your flowerbeds are going to be, and whether you want to include any raised beds. These are ideal for changing the look of the garden, as well as for providing enough soil to allow plants with deeper roots to establish themselves. They’re also ideal for growing vegetables.
A great example of this is the Hartwood Small Raised Bed, which is 45cm high and 180cm long. This could be used as a divider between different parts of the garden, or to provide you with additional interest. The same applies to the Hartwood Tiered Raised Bed, where the square design makes it perfect for positioning in a corner. This example brings you four distinct areas to plant into, with three different levels of planting required.
If you want to keep an existing patio area, you can still mark out the spot where your new gravel garden will begin, perhaps by adding a patio planter to do the job. A nice chunky one would be ideal in this instance, perhaps something as appealing as the Rowlinson Patio Planter, for example. Boasting a length of 180cm and a height of 40cm, this would look wonderful near any patio. Plant it with aromatic flowers to lend some more atmosphere to your patio, too. Or how about using it as a raised herb garden, so the herbs themselves are always close at hand?
Improving an existing gravel garden
If you have already got a gravel garden in place, you may have plants that are now well-established. Your needs when looking at an existing garden will be very different to those that present themselves when you first establish your garden design.
For example, you may need to trim back certain plants that are overgrowing the gravel paths and areas by too large a margin. You may also need to buy more gravel to bulk up the paths again, if they have been trodden down and some of the gravel has been lost to the flowerbeds.
If you have started to grow your own plants to add to your gravel garden, you may benefit from adding a cold frame to a sunny spot in the garden. The Hartwood Large Overlap Cold Frame gives you an opportunity to extend the growing season, as young plants can be hardened off inside and protected from the elements. The cold frame also warms up as the sun hits the acrylic glazing.
It is also worth asking yourself what is working in your garden, and what perhaps didn’t work as well as you hoped it would. For example, do you have an area where the gravel is more prevalent than flowers and shrubs? Does the garden look sparse, or in need of more plants? Remember, it helps to have plants of varying heights and sizes, to ensure the gravel garden has lots of interesting features.
Choosing the best plants to grow and develop in a gravel-based environment is also a question of learning as you go along. While there are lists of plants available online, including such species as cosmos, verbascum, nepeta, and yucca, you may have more success with some than with others. But remember, owning a gravel garden is a different experience than you may be used to. If you have the chance to experience it, you may realise it leads the path to a charming garden with lots of appeal.