Size Does Matter With Gravel

They say that size doesn’t matter but when it comes to using gravel to create a beautiful driveway; it really does. While you might opt for a gravel size that you find aesthetically pleasing, this isn’t the only thing you should be thinking about when making a choice. 

If you’re considering putting down a gravel driveway, don’t part with any of your hard earned cash until you have checked out this post. 

What’s The Big Deal With Gravel Size?

You could be forgiven for thinking that gravel, regardless of its shape or size, will work well on your driveway. In theory, you could just buy any old gravel, tip it on and rake it out, but you might not be doing yourself, or your driveway any favours. 

If you hire a driveway installation contractor, you will notice that they pay a lot more attention to detail when laying a gravel drive. These professionals opt for various sizes of gravel in layers and when it isn’t done correctly, a whole host of problems might ensue. 

For example, if you use tiny gravel chippings then there is a high chance that these will get lodged into the lugs on the soles of your shoes as well as in the car tyres. This is, quite simply, annoying at best but potentially damaging at worst. On the flip side, using large pebbles will mean that the driveway will shift and move every time a car comes on to it. This means that you will spend a lot of time brushing loose stones back into place, which is time consuming. Furthermore, these larger stones won’t compact very well at the base of the driveway.

What Size Gravel For Driveways

The size of gravel that you need will vary depending on where you are placing it; you wouldn’t use the same gravel on a driveway that you would use in a planter, for example. Most experts recommend using gravel that is anywhere between 10mm and 20mm for a driveway but if you want a drive that is professional then layering works best. 

The Base Layer

At the base of the driveway, you need gravel that will create a stable and reliable foundation. Moreover, at this level, you need to be using gravel that will help to drain the driveway. If you speak to any contractor, they will tell you that this is one of the most crucial elements. 

Gravel #3 is one of the most popular options for the base of the driveway as it meets both of the standards for this layer; it is permeable and stable. These stones are usually around one to two inches in size and while they might not be the best looking, you won’t see them once the driveway is complete. 

That said, gravel #4 is also a popular option and is typically around the same size. What’s great about this type of gravel is that it can be made from various rocks. In the UK, limestone is a common choice.

The Middle Layer

Above the base of your driveway, you will then need to install a mid-layer. This is usually created using gravel #57 which again, is normally made from limestone although this can vary. Around the same size as the stones at the base level, between one and two inches, gravel #57 is essential for promoting good drainage. Before moving on to the next stage, ensure that your base and middle layers are tightly compacted to avoid movement. 

The Top Layer

Now that all of your practical stones are laid down, it is time to create the top layer of your driveway that everyone will see. This is where things get interesting because while size is still important, you have options when it comes to colour allowing you to create a driveway that is unique to you. 

The name in the trade for the type of gravel used here is ‘fines’ and this refers to smaller stones as well as rock dust. These are great for this purpose since they will easily compact over time meaning that you get a secure surface that offers excellent longevity and durability.


When installing a new driveway, a lot of people opt for gravel thanks to how affordable it is and that it doesn’t require much maintenance; if any. However, too many homeowners are purchasing bags of gravel in any size and laying it down only to find that they have issues soon after the driveway is complete. 

Using a blend of different gravel sizes will create a functional driveway that drains well and stays in place.

Driveway Expert