Forum home Garden design

Replacing lawn with gravel


Apologies in advance if my question sounds stupid, i'm a novice!

My wife and I recently bought our first house together (previously rented!), the front of which has a garden and a narrow driveway, we want to widen the driveway by pulling up some of the lawn adjascent to it and laying some gravel down - I just wanted to know whether you think I may find any problems with doing it whilst the ground is still wet? The plan is to dig up the lawn, lay a heavy duty fabric membrane and then lay the gravel on top of this? Just conscious we will be parking a car on it?

Thanks in advance!



  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,703
    It depends what sort of topsoil there is under the grass. If you have nice deep loamy soil it'll compact under the weight of the car. Wet or dry probably doesn't make much difference. The gravel will probably move about and even it out - depends how much it sinks and how much gravel you have - how deep. If you have clay and builders rubble, it'll probably be fine. Best option, if you can, would be to lift the turf, put down some hardcore or 'scalpings' and get a 'whacker plate' on it - you can hire them from tool hire places. Compact it down nice and firm, then put your membrane down and gravel over it.

    Two things though: gravel will stick to your car tyres and track onto the road. If there's a pavement, you will get gravel migrating onto the pavement which is treacherous for pedestrians. The Council may have bylaws to say you are responsible for stopping it happening, or if not, people may complain and you'll be told to do something about it. And gravel has to be weeded - weed seeds see it as a perfect germinating medium.
    You might want to consider either something like 'grid pave' (other similar products are available) which reduces the tendency of gravel to move, or using a bonded gravel of some sort. Both options are fairly expensive though.
    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    A better option, if you can find it, would be "grasscrete", a lattice of concrete which provides hard standing but allows rainwater to soak in and grass to grow through.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,426
    Just taking up the grass, laying a fabric membrane and gravel will generally not be sufficient if you want to park a car on it.  When we had our lawn (if you could call it that) taken up, they excavated to about 8", laid and compacted hardcore then sand, covered that with fabric and then gravel on top.
    We have new neighbours and the front lawn there was taken up by the previous owners, and replaced with gravel, purely decorative in that case.  The new people are now parking on it and it has already begun to sink.  The gravel is also being dragged up onto the block paved area when then move off it.
  • shazza 3shazza 3 Posts: 153
    We put a border of gravel around our garage a few years back, worse thing we ever did. Gravel goes everywhere and i'm forever sweeping and picking it up. Also the magpies and jackdaws take great delight in also flinging it everywhere !!!! I'd think carefully before putting that down, we've learnt our lesson, never again  
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,361
    After a few years trial and error, the most effective combination we've found is a layer of hardcore - compacted with a whacker plate, then a layer of hoggin - also compacted with a whacker plate, then topped with shingle - with the whacker plate run over it.

    If there's no hardcore underneath the soil will compact unevenly under the weight of the car and you'll end up with troughs and ridges.

    If you use membrane the shingle will slide around on top of it and bits of the membrane will eventually start to show through or become exposed at the edges. Even worse, it can start to fray. Then you'll be forever catching heels, tools etc etc in the threads. It can get really messy and also be a trip hazard. 

    A layer of compacted hardcore stops troughs developing in the soil and shingle.
    Compacted hoggin works (to a small degree) as a weed suppressant.
    The shingle slightly sticks to the hoggin and significantly reduces shingle movement.

    Shingle is an easy, relatively cheap, DIY solution. You will, however, always have a problem with weeds self-seeding and also with some shingle migrating to where you don't want it. Make sure there is some edging between it and any grass or borders - we used paviors.

    Shingle has, however, proved the best solution for us in several areas of the garden - including the drive. It does require some straightforward, easy maintenance but so do many other surfaces.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,426
    Topbird describes the job we had done but we do have membrane beneath the shingle.  It was done professionally and is a very heavy duty product.  It is also finished beneath a concrete fillet to hold it in place.  Been down about 4 years now and no problems so far.
  • Thanks very much for all the advise. I think it's clear it isn't the quick and cheapish job I was hoping it would be! We were definitely looking at minimum 20mm sized pieces of limestone or similar to minimise how much they got stuck in the car tyres, however, from the above posts it looks like that won't be enough.

    I will look into getting some hard-core and renting a whacked plate. To be honest I hadn't heard of hoggin before but will definitely look into this also. 

    Thanks very much, appreciate all the replies and help
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 2,919
    At least all this is better than the question which I thought you had originally posed and read too quickly: Replacing lawn with grave!
  • +1 for the recommendations to use hardcore under the surface. And don't underestimate the importance of the whacker plate mentioned by Topbird either: I had a leak in my mains supply pipe so had to dig up ~1 sq metre of my block paving (which is prepped in much the same way as a gravel drive). I repaired the leak and replaced the hardcore, compacting it as well as I could by hand with a sledgehammer. 6-12 months later and you can already tell it's sagging a little because I couldn't compact it well enough. If I can muster the enthusiasm, I'll lift the block paving again in the summer to level it.
Sign In or Register to comment.