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Edging for Gravel Drives

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 19 Sep 2019 | comments*Discuss
Edging Gravel Driveway Wood Timber Brick

There is a huge variety of edging strips available for driveways and, although they help to make a gravel drive look good, it’s not all about image.

Dangers of Untamed Gravel

If you read our article in this section about Maintaining Gravel Drives, you’ll find out about spreading, where gravel is pushed sideways by the downward force of tyres and feet. This can lead to individual pieces of gravel getting into the surrounding areas and causing all sorts of problems (see our article Gravel Driveways: Advantages and Disadvantages on this site). Gravel spilling onto an adjacent path can roll underfoot and cause people to fall over. There is also more potential for damage if you have a lawn next to the driveway.

The small stones can damage the cutting edges of lawn mower blades, and there can be far worse consequences if a stone is flicked up by a mower. A stone can smash a window, dent a car or even, at worst, hit someone in the eye. So it’s worth taking edging seriously.

What Materials Can You Use?

The look you are after will almost certainly determine the type of edging you choose, along with price. Wood is one of the cheapest materials, although it will not last very long even if treated to protect it. Most other popular edging materials are variations on brick or stone, with many different profiles available, from plain blocks to decorative profiles specifically produced for edging.

Take a Look at Wood

At best you’d be looking at a 5-10-year lifespan for edging made from four by four timbers, but railway sleepers should last a lot longer. You will need to dig a channel so that the timber sits right, but try not to bury too much of it as this will hasten the rotting process.

Rows of small split logs bound together by wire have become popular in recent years as garden borders. But you may find, if you use them as driveway borders, that gravel works its way through the gaps between each piece of wood. Both these and ordinary Timber Edging will not cope well with being run over though, so don’t use them if you have a lot of cars using the driveway or if there’s not much turning room.

Stone, Brick and Concrete Block Edging

Both stone and concrete will last a lot longer than wood, but to get the real benefit they will need to be properly set in a foundation of concrete. This will allow them to resist being driven over – if they aren’t set, they will topple over like wood.

The same applies to brick, although some thin, decorative edgings, such as Victorian scalloped edgings, will break in half or lose a corner when driven over. These are best kept for border edgings rather than driveways, but if you really want that look, perhaps it’s better to simply insert them into the earth. They won’t do such a good job of retaining gravel but at least if they are driven over they are more likely to fall over rather than break. You will simply have to remake the turf and reset them.

Low Walls as Edging

If you decide to run more than one course of bricks or blocks, in effect building a low wall, be careful how high you go. Two courses will make a wall that will go beneath most cars, but three or four courses runs the risk of being clouted by an opening car door or damaging the sills of a low-slung car.

This is unlikely to affect the wall much, but it might anger your family and friends! It may be better to build the wall a little higher so that it is obvious to drivers and they can avoid it more easily. The ‘neither-high-nor-low’ option is best avoided.

Regular Maintenance

Finally, you need to patrol the edging every now and then as no border will be 100% effective at preventing the escape of gravel. If there is a lawn next to the drive, pull a fine rake through it to check for and trap any gravel. Look for gaps in the edging as well, and close them with earth or whatever material is appropriate.

This will keep your gravel in check for longer and keep your driveway in tip-top condition, too.

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[Add a Comment]
I have a small gravel driveway which has become severely compacted over the years especially since recent building work where skips etc have been placed on it.The drive is directly next to tarmac and even though compacted is the same level. I can't just put more gravel on top as it will spill over onto the adjoining tarmac.Can you give me any advice?
Nic - 19-Sep-19 @ 9:06 AM
Maureen Lakie - Your Question:
We have a large gravel drive leading on to a rough public pathway. I am looking for an edging to contain the gravel but could still be driven over. Can you help please?

Our Response:
You'd be best seeking advice from local driveway/landscapersbut granite or stone blocks should work (especially if set in concrete), or railway sleepers for a more natural look?
DrivewayExpert - 14-Feb-17 @ 2:03 PM
We have a large gravel drive leading on to a rough public pathway. I am looking for an edging to contain the gravel but could still be driven over. Can you help please?
Maureen Lakie - 13-Feb-17 @ 2:16 PM
Just about to have 20 Tonnes of Cotswold stone delivered for my driveway. I still have the plate compactor that I hired to bed down the underlying base - should I run this over the stones once spread out to settle it all down evenly? Many thanks CB
CB - 28-Nov-16 @ 3:28 PM
@Craig. The smaller gravel is easier to walk on and does not "splay" as easily as the bigger stones when it's driven on. (Our opinion only :-) )
DrivewayExpert - 14-Jul-15 @ 9:57 AM
What size gravel do you recommend for a drive. the smaller gravel tends to look better. Do you recommend 10mm or 20mm. Regards Craig
craig - 8-Jul-15 @ 9:24 AM
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