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What Are the Different Uses for Pea Gravel?

A fish tank with pea gravel in it.
Snow blowers can dislodge pea gravel and send them flying through the air.
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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
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Pea gravel is a small round stone that is a good choice for many applications. From walkways to driveways and garden paths, pea gravel does a good job of wicking water away while providing a stable surface that is comfortable to walk on as well as firm enough to drive a vehicle on. Originally marketed as a drain field stone, pea gravel has been used as playground surfacing and even around trees and buildings as a replacement for mulch compound. Whether it be as a stand-alone product or as an aggregate for concrete work, pea gravel is a good choice in a variety of applications.

A popular use for pea gravel is to line walkways in and around garden areas. The small stone is a good choice for a stable walkway that is able to remain relatively dry in wet areas. The stone is very comfortable to walk on, and in a garden setting, it gives a much friendlier and natural appearance than a comparable concrete walkway or sidewalk. If the situation calls for a redesign of the planting area, the pea gravel is fairly easy to remove and place in a new area. Another popular feature of the small stone is its ability to be sprayed off with a garden hose, giving a fresh and clean appearance on a continual basis.

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When placing pea gravel in a driveway, it is often recommended that the ground be cleared of any grass and a bed of sand be lain prior to the application of the stone. This preparation prevents the growth of weeds and grass through the stone, and the sand gives a firm base for the stone to settle into. The stone driveway gives a rustic and visual appeal to a driveway that concrete or brick paving cannot offer. The downside to the use of gravel stone in cold climates is the damage that can be inflicted upon the driveway in the event of plowing snow. Even snow blowers are capable of dislodging the small stones and sending them flying through the air like tiny bullets.

In cold climate areas, the pea gravel is often used as an aggregate in concrete driveway construction. By applying a thin layer of stone over the poured concrete and pressing it down into the surface, the driveway gives the illusion of having a gravel surface, but retains the all-season stability of a concrete unit. The pea gravel offers superior traction in snowy conditions while retaining the strength to withstand snow plowing and other forms of snow removal.

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