Garden Design Element #1: Gravel Driveway


A major design element in our front garden area at our little Ojai house is the long circular driveway.  This is the house before.

This driveway was probably original to the home and was patched and lumpy asphalt.

We really wanted something that would act as a compliment to the rest of the garden as well as being functional.

The idea of gravel was really appealing but it has some major drawbacks, one of which is that it can be messy and not very user friendly for automobiles.

The first order of business was the demo.  Not a fun job but well worth the misery for the end result.  Ripping out the entire drive also allowed us to reconfigure the curve, location and width.  We also added much needed drains.  It can rain really hard here and drop a lot of water in a very short time.

After the proper grade was established we put down about 3 inches of road base to stabilize the ground and then added a curb to either side of the driveway.  I'm not a big fan of concrete but this curbing was important as it serves to hold the edge of the gravel and defines the driveway path.  The concrete is extruded out of this little machine, kind of like play dough!
 These are primarily used to plant grass in and can then be driven on but we used them here to hold the gravel in place and to further add structure for cars.
 We didn't want the gravel sliding all over and moving around.

After the pavers went down we filled the cells with a beautiful tan/chamois colored pea gravel.  It comes in these huge sacks and can be moved around with a fork lift (it often helps to have a fork lift on hand) and then spread by hand.

This particular mix of gravel has alot of opaque stones which really added to the beauty of this project.  I was told this pebble is from beaches in Mexico.

Heres a snap shot of the finished project.  It sounds beautiful when you walk on it and the color and texture are perfect with the local stone we have used for our walls and fencing.

This is not the most "sexy" post I have done to date but I think it is an idea that can be adapted to any home and it is really a great garden design element.

More garden posts are on the way!!  I love the fall and it is a perfect time of year to get out and play in the dirt.

Happy Tuesday~*~kelley
  1. who says Mexican beach pebble isn't sexy!
    I really appreciated your step-by-step description and photos. What a beautiful end-result.

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  2. This looks beautiful.
    Is it working out? Does the gravel stay in place?
    Our landscaper wants us to use a stabilizer, but I'm not convinced.
    I'd love to get your experience.


  3. Oh I beg to differ.... I think gravel is 'very' sexy!!!;) We will be putting in a gravel drive also, although at the rate we are going looks like it will be next spring. Your driveway turned out beautifully!
    I found you from Brooke's post. I am happy to meet you and honored to be on your blog list!

  4. Thanks for the wonderful comments!!! The gravel is like walking on "rice krispies" very fun : ) k

  5. Love that driveway!
    The only thing I liked about the "old driveway" were the stones used as a border! could you put them back just loose on top of the curb? I miss them!
    I have had two (One HUGE) gravel driveways; have had the road bed; without the turf pavers. As long as it is fairly flat,; I have never had trouble keeping the gravel in place!

    I would say Brooke; no stabilizers! Not necessary! Sometimes the contractors overdo the whole thing (many times they aren't used to anything but hardscape) and then you lose the crunch and whole softer feeling!

    This looks wonderful!

  6. We have a very long driveway as well and I think a gravel driveway is the best option. I don't mind the look of it at all. I think later if I want it paved I can do that but this will work great for now.

  7. Keeping the gravel in place like that is a good idea. It is a beautiful touch to your yard. I love little aesthetic details like that.

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  13. the car on the level of living room, a route connecting the two levels were designed. However, to avoid dividing the garden, the driveway is covered with a green roof and finished with walls serving as borderlines. The result is a tunnel emerging in the garden, becoming a house.
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