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Replacing a lawn with gravel and borders

We live in a new build with lawn on two levels. We are keeping the upper level lawn but would like to remove the lower level and replace with gravel and have a border on either side for perennials. If we remove the turf, level it, add a membrane and gravel, can we plant straight into the membrane on either side? We are planning on putting bark on top of the borders to break up the look of gravel and add edging stones of some sort to separate the bark from the gravel. Will this work as a relatively low maintenance garden? Any  feedback or suggestions would be appreciated! 



  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391

    It would work but the soil under the membrane will suffer and slowly deteriorate as will any plants planted through it.  You can keep the plants happy by using a liquid feed regularly but the soil will become lifeless.  Much better to put the membrane down only under the gravel and leave the borders as soil, mulching with well-rotted manure once a year in the autumn and covering with a layer of bark to keep the weeds down.  That way your plants (and essential soil organisms!) will thrive and you will have no need to use liquid feed every couple of weeks which is not really low maintenance! image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • nic002nic002 Posts: 2

    I hadn't considered this, thank you!

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,297

    could we have some pictures and sizes

  • Whoever came up with the idea that gravel is "low maintenance" and less bother than a lawn, got it wrong. My 94 year old mother-in-law has gravel in the garden already there when she moved into a bungalow. It has a membrane underneath. She cannot walk on it due to he frailty, the dog hates it and weeds constantly grow in the gravel on top of the membrane. She cannot spray the weeds becuase of the dog (so she says!) and cannot cope with pulling them up.

    I would never consider this as an alternative to a lawn.

    Perhaps some nice paving or tiles if you need to have a patio area?

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,297

    I think the only actual low maintenance stuff is fake grass. Agree, gravel is not main tenance free, I have it all round my veg plot, we put down new ground cover last year, 1 ton of new shingle, plus extra bags, weeds still grow through it, and is somehow "dissapreas", need some more now.  I can understand Lizzybusy someone with problems walking wouuld find it a problem  especially if its laid really deep, my silly Ma-in-law made this mistake her garden sloped, she paid thousands, the "gardener" laid it 12 inches deep at some points, to level the garden, it was ridiculous. You can put weedkiller down with dogs, (and kids) the ones we use say "safe once dry".  We have a big patio area, probably 40 feet wide by 20, plus side pathes, Hubby took a load up, re-laid re-grouted, we STILL get weeds coming through the gaps.  I have a friend who has given up on them, her Hubby now just uses a strimmer and cuts them level with the weeds.  Their place is victorian and it looks "right" inbetween crazy paving.We have made a woodland bit, down by our veg plot, is part-shade, ferns,polys,japanese anemones etc. I have put weed proof menbrane covered in bark, then old mossy logs and large rocks, I dont feed and havent found any problems,

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,297

    Cuts the weeds level with the paving!

  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,972

    I think gravel is pretty low (not zero) maintenance if it's laid properly. Spreading a membrane and chucking pea shingle down won't work very well, ideally you want good edge restraints e.g. brick or stone on a concrete haunching, lay a hardcore base, and then a fairly shallow surface of angular gravel over the top. 6-10mm is the best size for surfacing, and you lay it no more than 3x the depth of the gravel size.


  • lovegardening77lovegardening77 Berkshire Posts: 332

    As long as you have the gravel layer thick enough it should be fine. I got some hardwearing membrane from Wickes and thick layer of beach pebbles over the top. image

  • Mine is at the bottom of my garden, the area, and paths round the veg beds, it would be extremely diddifulct to edge it with anything. am guessing someone with mobility problems would find your pebbles a chalenge Lovegardening77.  I know walking on the bigger pebbles on the beach here is a very good cardio workout!!!  I do like what you have done there though

  • Think I just made up a new word there, instead of difficult!

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