Guide to Gravel Types
As you may have noticed when trekking, walking near construction sites, or examining someone’s driveway, there are lots of types of gravel. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with a list of the common types of gravel:
- Pea gravel
- River rocks
- Decomposed granite
- Crushed stone
Starting with pea gravel, this material is rounder and smaller than most other types, shaped like peas as the name implies. It’s a good long-term solution for paths and can be substituted for mulch in some cases. It also comes in many different colors. The downside is that the “peas” themselves tend to travel to unwanted places if installed poorly, which means pea gravel can end up in your lawn.
If your gravel is machine-crushed, it should have a certain triangular shape that allows it to fit together nicely. Crushed limestone is a prominent example of this type of gravel. Because of its shape, it locks together, which makes it ideal for driveways as a firmer, tougher, and flatter surface is required for cars and other vehicles.
For river rocks, they’re usually seen in landscaping where the landscapist wants to create a natural yet polished look, since it does come in a plethora of sizes. Great for lining flower beds of small garden plots, it can be also used for drainage. This type of gravel is typically rounded, with stones ranging from nickel sized on up to river rocks that are palm-sized or larger.
You might be wondering what decomposed granite may be. It’s simply granite that has bonded with other stones through weathering. With nice tan coloring and fine texture, it’s a good choice for pathways. Eventually, the granite will further break down into clay and silica, which then requires maintenance.
What About Pets?
Many people have expressed concern about pets ingesting pieces of gravel that come loose or pets injuring paws on sharp bits of gravel. Here, we’ll take a look at how to use gravel in areas where pets are likely to play.
Is Gravel Safe for Pets?
For dogs and cats, even though some gravel types are small, most are too large for the animal to swallow accidentally. Even with fine pea gravel, the taste and texture isn’t something most pets want which means that the risk of purposeful ingestion is low. If you live on a farm and have larger animals, such as ruminants, don’t worry. In most herbivore diets, particularly ruminants, they are accustomed to swallowing bits and pieces of stone in order to help them digest grass and other plant matter.
Gravel is also relatively comfortable for pets as while it can absorb some heat, it will not be as hot as asphalt or concrete, even on particularly hot days. In places that you would like to use as pet bathrooms, gravel is a good choice in that it is porous enough to drain urine away from the surface and can easily be flushed with a garden hose.
Where gravel can be problematic is if you use sharp varieties like crushed limestone in areas that pets frequent. In these spots, it’s best to use rounded gravel like river stones or pea gravels to prevent injured paws.
Protecting Your Yard with Gravel?
Another way that gravel works well with pets is that it can help protect your yard from paths worn by dogs or cats routinely walking over the same areas. Create gravel paths in places where pets frequently walk to avoid the rutted look of dirt pathways. Just make sure that if you use gravel in gardens where pets sometimes play that you aren’t crushing the roots of more delicate plants with a heavy layer of gravel.
Also, many pets—particularly cats and dogs—enjoy digging in the yard, or better yet, in soft garden soil. Though they may enjoy walking on smooth gravel, most pets would rather avoid digging in gravel. Having a layer of gravel can zone off areas to prevent pets from digging in garden beds or using them like a litterbox. Even if your pet does decide to dig in gravel, it won’t be anything that you can’t fix with a rake.