I've been doing some unskilled gardening professionally this summer (weeding/mowing) and have come to the conclusion that gravel beds/borders/drives are not at all low maintenance. Even with weed membrane, you will get weeds growing through. I find it's difficult to use a hoe because it just messes up the gravel and leaves the weeds. I don't have a license to use chemicals professionally and don't like the idea of large area spraying with herbicide anyway. If you have dogs or children or even yourself, you are introducing carcinogens into your environment (not to mention about the waterways and birds etc.)
So that seems to leave hand-weeding, which is time consuming and not so pleasant. Last week I was doing this in 3 different gardens---fortunately only once in the heat.
Coming from a dry place, I prefer greenery anyway and sort of admire the plants, which are so amazing to be able to grow in that barren environment, but it looks so untidy to have gravel AND weeds.
It seems to me that in Britain, a lawn is actually more low maintenance. Even if it has weeds, you would just need to pay a neighbour kid to mow it weekly and it will still look neat enough. (No one but you actually looks at your lawn to see if it has broad leaved weeds as long as it is mowed neatly.)
I know gravel is more environmentally friendly and better looking than just paving over everything--and I do have a small gravel bed (more of a flat rockery) in a dry area...but enough plants to not have lots of room for weeds-- and I don't want to encourage more people to pave things. I can understand choosing it for a parking area. Just thought I'd mention that in my experience, there will still be lots of maintenance involved.
Or am I missing something?