Pea Gravel Patio Pros and Cons

If you’re sitting at the house, tossing around patio ideas, the thought of doing a pea gravel patio may have crossed your mind or possibly, something similar. Of course, thinking about it and doing it are two different things. Is installing a pea gravel patio worth the hassle?

Pea Gravel patios are one of those DIY projects where the cons are equal to the pros. However, with proper cultivation and maintenance, the cons can be significantly reduced, however, making a pea gravel patio a pretty decent prospect.

When it comes to designing a pea gravel patio, one of the greatest advantages that you have going for you is the sheer volume of design aesthetics that you can peruse. It’s not like these tiny little stones all come in one color, after all.

What Is Pea Gravel?

Pea gravel strongly resembles much smaller versions of pond stones, rounded and smooth over decades, sometimes centuries of water passing over and against them. Rounded stones are proof that water is ultimately more powerful than stone or, perhaps its time. 

The best part about selecting pea gravel, is the selection process itself, as there are so many different, natural colors available to choose from. Due to their size, they also fill in every gap that you have in your yard very nicely. 

The stuff is practically designed for mulching and designing walkways, patios, and even some driveways if the project is reasonable. 

What Are The Benefits Of Installing A Pea Gravel Patio?

As we stated at the beginning of the article, in a neutral setting, the negatives of creating a pea gravel patio are equal to the benefits, however, there is much you can do to reduce the negatives and really get the most out of your pea gravel patio. 

  • Cost is a definite positive
  • It’s very versatile
  • Keeps out rodents
  • Keeps weed growth down
  • Very easy to install
  • Excellent permeability
  • Easy to maintain

The average cost of pea gravel is $5 per square foot. You can find it, available in 50lb bags, at any local, hardware store, but if you really want to get colorful and add some robust aesthetics to your patio, seek out the naturally colorful variety and buy it in bulk.

Its versatility is indicative of its size. In fact, most of your work—if you decide to DIY—will be preparation, scooping, scraping, and leveling a prospective area. Once that’s done, it’s a matter of pouring it in, filling the gaps, and raking it flat.

Rodents can’t chew through rock and they’re naturally averse to trespassing through areas that are thoroughly laden with pea gravel. The same goes for weeds as pea gravel will starve any undergrowth of sunlight.

Pea gravel is also an amazingly permeable aggregate, so you won’t have to worry about it holding water. If you design your patio correctly, with the edge closest to your home slightly inclined from the opposite end, you’ll find that water is a non-issue in inclement weather.

It’s also very easy to maintain. The occasional lumps or divots that occur from kids or pets can easily be raked away and made smooth again. If you decide to lay pea gravel, make sure to pour it in at a depth of 5 inches. 

What Are The Drawbacks Of A Pea Gravel Patio?

We gave you a list of seven benefits of pea gravel patios so be prepared for an equal list of negatives. However, read past that and we will show you how to minimize these negatives as well because a well-maintained pea gravel patio is simply too good to pass up.

  • Difficult to contain 
  • If you change your mind, its a pain to remove
  • Easily shifts underfoot
  • Not pleasant on bare feet
  • Outside furniture is awkward
  • Has to be refilled occasionally
  • Difficult when it comes to removing snow

Without any sort of containment barrier, pea gravel loves to travel. Even if you dig down and use it to fill in a six-inch void, pea gravel still has a bad habit of moving outside of the area you cut out for it. 

If you decide to go with a pea gravel patio, make sure that you are 100% certain that it’s what you want. If you change your mind later after you have already installed it or started, it’s a real pain to get it all back out. Tiny little stones have a habit of being annoying when you want to clean them out of the soil.

Since they are so lightweight, the gravel is easily kicked around and diffused. You especially don’t want to walk on them in bare feet. Even if yours are callused, it’s not a pleasant feeling.

Outside furniture doesn’t like to sit flat on pea gravel either since no single square inch of pea gravel is as compressed as any other. Every four years are so, you’re likely going to have to add pea gravel again to replace some of what was lost. 

Snowfall is an issue but only if you live in an area where it snows during the winter. Attacking snow on top of pea gravel with a snow shovel is no one’s idea of fun. 

How To Minimize The Drawbacks

Use a barrier to effectively seal in the area where the pea gravel will be installed. You can also lay down barriers around anything within the patio that you want to keep pea gravel out of. 

If your barriers have a little bit of height to them, it will also minimize the amount of pea gravel lost when people, kids, pets walk in and out of the patio. 

If you’re worried about furniture not balancing, work the legs into the pea gravel a little bit on all four corners until you get it leveled the way you want it to be.

As far as bare feet are concerned, well, you’ll just have to get used to that as far as pea gravel patios go. 

All Things Considered

Outside of bare feet and snowfall, if you prep the area well and install your pea gravel at the proper depth, you’ll have a beautiful, long-lasting patio that will stand up against the test of time. 

Also, it’s hard to ask for more when you’re getting something far more aesthetically pleasing than concrete at only a fraction of the cost. It doesn’t crack, it doesn’t hold water, and the colors won’t fade with time. Pea gravel patios, properly maintained, are an excellent design choice that lasts.