Garden with gravel beds.

How to Lay a Gravel Bed in Your Garden

Drought-tolerant plants that originate from arid, rocky places look most at home in a gravel garden. Ideal for a hot, sunny spot, a gravel border is easy to make, and can create a mosaic of colors and textures in areas where other plants struggle to survive.

When to plant: Spring.

At their best: Summer.

Time to complete: 6 hours.

You will need: Drought-loving plants, horticultural grit, washed sand, landscape fabric, scissors, galvanized staples, watering can, gravel, boulders.

Prepare the area

Dig over the area thoroughly and remove any weeds. You need a well-drained soil to keep drought-tolerant plants happy, so dig in washed sand and horticultural grit to make sure that yours drains freely, even in wet weather.

Lay membrane

Weed-suppressing membrane or landscape fabric allows rain to soak through to the roots, yet prevents weeds from growing. Lay it over the entire area, overlapping the edges and pinning them down with galvanized staples as you go.

Cut crosses for plants

Place your plants in their positions on the landscape fabric, and then arrange them to create a pleasing display. For each plant, cut a cross in the fabric, and fold back the flaps.

Plant through fabric

Dig a hole and plant your plants at the same depth they were at in their pots. Add a little fertilizer to the back-filled soil, and firm it in. Replace the fabric to fit around the stems.

Spread gravel mulch

Once all of the plants have been watered in, spread a 2 in (5 cm) layer of gravel over the entire area. You may need to top this up occasionally to keep the garden looking its best. Water the plants in dry spells for the first year.