Whether you call it beach pebbles, gravel, or crushed rock, pea gravel is an excellent choice for DIY projects around your patio and garden! In the article we’ll discuss the types of pebbles available and how much they cost. We’ll also tell you how to calculate the amount you’ll need and how to clean it so it looks great for years to come!
What is Pea Gravel?
The technical definition of pea gravel is naturally rounded river rock that is approximately 3/8ths of an inch in size. However, many other rock types are crushed and then sieved to collect the right size stones to be sold as pea gravel. While natural pea gravel tends to have an overall brown color, man-made pea gravel comes in all kinds of colors you can use to match your style and elevate your overall landscape aesthetic!
Pea Gravel Types
1. Pea Gravel River Rock ($9.76 / Cubic foot)
Source: Everglades Farm Equipment
As mentioned above, this natural river rock type of pea gravel is the only true type of pea gravel based on the legal definition. It is typically a mixture of various shades of brown with some orange, white, or even black stones mixed in. This is one of the cheapest options you can choose for your landscaping pebble needs.
2. Arizona Pea Gravel ($112.00/ Cubic foot)
Image Source: Home Depot
This Arizona pea gravel has a beautiful composition of creams, tans, and grays with tinges of red throughout. Most of the stones have a natural river rock appearance with rounded edges, though there are some fractured pieces with flat jagged edges throughout. This is an excellent pea gravel option if you’re looking for a tinge of red in your gravel. The red color will stand out even more if you place it near some red flowers or a red tool shed in the backyard!
3. Granite Pea Gravel ($51.50 / Cubic foot)
Image Source: Amazon
Granite pea gravel is produced by crushing granite stones and sieving out the correct 3/8 inch pieces to be sold as pea gravel. This type of gravel will have a combination of dark grays, light grays, whites, and a few black pieces throughout. It typically has more jagged edges than other types of pebbles. This type is great if you have a more contemporary color pallet to work with, such as a white house with black trim. It can easily be used to complement a modern-styled garden or home.
4. Limestone Pea Gravel ($28.50 / Cubic foot)
Image Source: Cascade Stoneworks
I love limestone pea gravel because of its classic and timeless look! It is made from crushed limestone which gives it a beautiful cream color. Some batches can be slightly whiter or slightly more tan in color, so try to get all of your pea gravel from the same batch. The only downside with this rock type is, if you want to keep that nice bright cream color, it can require more cleaning as it ages.
5. Mexican Pea Gravel ($41.00 / cubic foot)
Image Source: Amazon
This gravel has a natural smooth appearance and is overall dark gray with some tans, creams, and even a few pink-tinged rocks mixed in. I love how the colors give these pebbles some unique character and they look great in just about any landscape setting. While this type is a bit more expensive than some others, I think the investment is worth it since you won’t have to replace them any time soon.
6. Green Pea Gravel ($32.00 / Cubic foot)
Image Source: Walmart
This jagged, crushed rock has a stunning green color with some tan mixed in. The colors blend into a natural landscape perfectly and the jade-green color is to die for! If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, or you know your yard stays wet, this pea gravel will help disguise any moss or algae that may begin to grow on it.
7. Lava Rock Pea Gravel ($26.50 / Cubic foot)
Lava rock pebbles have interesting textures and generally weigh less than other gravel. It comes in a variety of colors including red, brown, and cream, but my favorite is black! I love the way it pops against the green grass when you use it for a walkway. Black stones also don’t require much cleaning since they hide dirt and algae growth well.
8. Polished Pea Gravel ($50 to $100 / Cubic foot)
Image Source: Cascade Stoneworks
Except for lava rock and limestone pea gravel, most other types can be polished to create a glossy reflective surface on the stones. Polishing tends to make the colors of the rocks more vibrant like they are when they’re wet. However, since these pebbles go through an extra process to get that shiny finish, they can often cost 2 to 3 times more than the same unpolished pea gravel.
9. Marble Pea Gravel ($83.00 / Cubic foot)
Image Source: Wayfair
Marble has a beautiful white color with hints of gray and cream throughout. It can complement a neat, well-maintained garden well. Just like marble countertops, marble pea gravel does come with a bigger price tag than other options. Marble is also porous, so cleaning it can be a headache and some stains may not be removable. I recommend you seal them with resin (see details below) if you decide to use these gorgeous pebbles.
10. Dolomite Pea Gravel ($60.00/ Cubic foot)
Image Source: Amazon
Dolomite pea gravel is another gorgeous white-colored stone that is technically a type of limestone. It tends to be a more bright white than limestone and has a little bit of cream and gray tones mixed in. If you prefer the look of marble over limestone, but don’t have to budget for it, dolomite might be a great option for you to consider.
11. Aquarium Gravel (Price Varies / Cubic foot)
Image Source: Amazon
Aquarium gravel typically isn’t sold under the name pea gravel, though you can often find it in a 3/8″ size and use it for landscaping. You can find this type of rock in just about any color imaginable. Some are natural while others are dyed, and most have a sealant on the rocks to prevent the leaching of the rock’s minerals or dyes into water.
Using aquarium substrates can allow you to get really creative with your landscape designs given all of the options available. However, due to the extra processing these rocks go through to get the color, smooth texture, and sealant on them; the price tag can get pretty big. To keep things within your budget, consider using aquarium rocks as an accent to your overall gravel design.
How Much Pea Gravel Do You Need?
Figuring out how much pea gravel you need for your project is pretty simple. Many online calculators are available, and they all use the same simple equation. You just multiply the depth you want the gravel to be by the length and width of the area you want to cover.
The equation is depth in feet x width in feet x length in feet = cubic feet needed.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to make a pea gravel walkway that is 3 feet wide by 15 feet long and you want the gravel to be 3 inches deep. You’d simply fill in the equation like this: 0.25 (depth) x 3 (width) x 15 (length) = 11.25 cubic feet.
Keep in mind that the depth of your gravel is entered as feet, not inches, in this equation. The recommended depth of pea gravel is typically 3 inches which is 0.25 feet. However, if you’d prefer to use a different depth, you can divide the depth in inches you desire by 12 to get the depth in feet.
For example, if you want your pea gravel to be 4 inches deep, 4 inches divided by 12 = 0.333 feet.
How much does a yard of pea gravel weigh?
The weight of pea gravel varies depending on what type of stone it’s composed of. On average, a cubic yard of pea gravel (3′ long, 3′ wide, and 3′ tall) weighs between 2,400 and 3,000 pounds! So if you’re using pea gravel in your landscape design, you’ll want to have a wheelbarrow on hand to help you transport it around the yard.
Pea Gravel Maintenance
Once you’ve purchased and installed your pea gravel, you’ll want to make sure you keep it clean and beautiful for years to come. Just like a sidewalk needs to be pressure washed every once in a while, your pea gravel will need to be cleaned periodically. Cleaning helps prevent algae from growing and the color from changing over time. You’ll also want to keep lawn trimmings, leaves, and other yard debris out of your pea gravel.
Removing Larger Lawn Debris
First off, regular maintenance of your pea gravel will make keeping it clean much easier in the long run. This means getting rid of yard debris on your pebbles at least twice a month. That may seem like a lot of work, but it only takes a few minutes with the help of a leaf blower.
I like to leaf blow my pea gravel walkways every time I mow the lawn since I’ve already have the leaf blower out and some of the lawn clippings always make their way into my stonework. This also helps to keep me on a regular schedule. Once debris start to deteriorate and work its way down into the stones, removal becomes much more difficult.
How To Wash Discolored Pea Gravel
Depending on the color of pea gravel you use, how much foot traffic the stones get, and how much moisture they endure, you’ll probably have to ‘wash’ your pea gravel from time to time to keep the color from changing. Sometimes a strong blast of water with the hose is enough to wash off dirt and soil to restore the original color. However, stubborn dirt, stains, and algae (particularly on lighter color stones) may require the use of chemicals for complete removal.
There are several stonework chemical cleaners available either online or at your local garden center. Most simply require you to mix the cleaner with water in a handheld sprayer and apply them directly to your stonework. Once dried, you’ll see an immediate improvement and any stubborn moss or algae growth will disappear in a few days.