how to lay gravel over grass

How to Lay Gravel Over Grass

Replacing a lawn with gravel is a great option if you want an attractive yet low-maintenance surface in your garden. Gone are the days of constantly weeding and mowing the lawn, replaced with a stylish material that requires no upkeep.

With a wide selection of gravel types with varying colours and textures, it’s easy to create the perfect style for your garden path, patio, or driveway.

Let’s take a look at out to easily lay gravel over grass in your garden!

Grass Removal

Before laying gravel, you need to install a robust weed membrane over the area to avoid weeds growing through. Unfortunately, weed membrane cannot be laid over living grass, as the surface will not be level, resulting in uneven surface across the gravel.

So, you’re going to need to take a few measures to remove the grass before laying the membrane. Thankfully, this is quite easy and there are a few options available to accommodate your preferences.

Removing Grass with Chemicals

One of the quickest ways to remove grass from the lawn before laying the weed membrane is to use a chemical solution. Your standard weed killers should work for this, with any glyphosate-based product doing the trick.

Here are some additional tips when using weed killer to remove grass:

  • Make sure to apply the killer one a dry, calm day. Too much rain dilutes the solution, making it less effective, while wind could disperse it across unwanted areas in the garden.
  • You may need to apply weed killer several times to effective remove grass. This is especially true for more established lawns.
  • Invest in appropriate equipment, such as a sprayer device, as this makes applying the chemical solution quicker and more efficient.

Removing Grass by Digging

The old-fashioned method of digging is still an effective way to remove your grass! Of course, this requires a lot more physical exertion compared to chemical removal, so consider what option is more suitable to your situation.

Digging is quicker because you don’t need to wait for chemicals to kill off the grass, so many prefer this choice. You will need some equipment, namely a shovel and/or fork, and it might be worth asking a friend for help to make the process easier.

Here are some tips for digging up your grass:

  • If it hasn’t rained recently, consider watering the grass for a few days before digging. This makes digging far less strenuous, but make sure you don’t over water! Too much water makes the turf much heavier, requiring more effort to remove.
  • Use an edging tool or shovel to slice long strips across the lawn. Turf is much easier to lift and remove in strips, so make sure to create around 1-2m strips throughout the lawn.
  • Start by removing each strip at the end of the lawn. Lift with the fork, cutting away the deeper roots below, slowly working along the length of the strip. Continue to roll the strip as you lift and cut.
  • Consider rolling into compact strips for easier removal – anything too long will be heavy and difficult to lift.

Removing Grass by Smothering

Smothering is a type of grass removal where you place a thick cover over the lawn to block light and air passing through. This naturally kills the grass off over time, requiring no effort on your part.

However, the one downside of this method is that it takes the longest to remove the grass. If you are patient or have planned ahead, then smothering is a great way to remove the grass before laying gravel!

Here are some tips for removing grass by smothering:

  • Use an old carpet or thick plastic sheet for the best results. These materials block light and increase the temperature, causing grass to slowly die.
  • If using plastic, make sure it is thick enough to block sunlight.
  • When laying across the lawn, make sure to secure the material in place with something heavy.
  • Be patient with this method – the process takes months to permanently remove the grass.
  • Avoid using paper or cardboard. They can block light but will eventually deteriorate, making them less effective.

Choosing the Best Gravel 

There are several types of gravel available for a garden, with all kinds of sizes, colours, and textures to choose from. Here are some of the most popular types of gravel for a garden:

Pea Gravel

Perhaps the most widely used gravel for patios, it features small, round shaped stones similar in size to peas. The smooth, rounded shape make pea gravel feel comfortable underfoot, with the smaller size also making it a popular choice.

Crushed Rock

Unlike pea gravel, crushed rock has not been processed to give it a smooth, round shape. The rocks have a much more rugged texture, ensuring the gravel remains in place. There is a wider colour selection than pea gravel, including greys, whites, reds, and browns.

Path Fine

One of the finest materials for gravel, it’s the best choice if you require more stability, such as a driveway.  While the finer consistency offers great stability, it does mean poor drainage. Look for a stabilised version rather than natural, as this includes a binding agent to improve stability.

Drain Rock

As the name suggests, drain rock offers the best drainage of any gravel. It has a rough texture like crushed rock, providing excellent stability. This is another great gravel if you need stability and good drainage.

Laying Weed Membrane and New Gravel

Once the grass is all removed, it’s time to finally lay the gravel. At this stage you also have the option to lay weed membrane, which isn’t essential but highly recommended. This blocks future weed growth, meaning less maintenance is needed.

If laying weed membrane, consider how much foot traffic the area will see to choose a suitable material.

Thinner membranes are fine for lower traffic areas, requiring less effort to lay. A thicker membrane is more durable, so best suited for high traffic areas and driveways, although does require more effort to cut and lay.

Prior to laying the membrane, make sure to level out the surface area, removing any weeds, rock, and lose debris. Make sure to overlap the membrane at any gaps, holding in place with something heavy as you lay, then cutting away excess material at the end.

With the membrane down, it’s now just a case of laying down the gravel. This is probably the easiest part – just pour it with a wheelbarrow or straight from the sack.

Once the area is level, simply wash off with a hose to clean up the gravel!