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Replacing lawn with gravel?

Julia1983Julia1983 ShropshirePosts: 139
Hi all,

Just after some advice/opinions... We are thinking of replacing our small lawn area with gravel. It is a wet site and while we have dug in some beds which are doing well, the lawn is an awful mess after any amount of rain. After slipping about in mud today giving the beds a bit of a tidy I wondered how bad it would be (aesthetically and  for wildlife) if we got rid of most of it and maybe just had a small oval in the middle that we could walk around. It's a pretty standard new build garden, rectangular shape, about 10x8m thereabouts with borders on the outside. The other thing is we are hoping to sell up and move on in about 5-6 years and it is a popular place with young families, so would not having a lawn be really offputting for those with children? Although it really is unusable for play in anything but a hot dry spell. 


  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,996
    We replaced a lawn with bark at our last house.  Very child-friendly, and gives cover for bugs which blackbirds love (they'll chuck the bark around looking for them).  But you'll need to top it up every year or two.
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • Julia1983Julia1983 ShropshirePosts: 139
    Bark is something we could do also, but our beds are mulched with bark so I was worried it might like a bit too brown...  :D  Don't suppose you have a picture?  I've not seen it done before. We don't have children of our own so not too worried from our point of view just from a resell perspective. 
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,996
    Hmm.  Might have a pic but we moved from there 13 years ago so I'll have to search...
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • Julia1983Julia1983 ShropshirePosts: 139
    Here's a pic, not the best sorry (taken from an upstairs window). We're digging the beds out further this spring so that will take up more lawn. 

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 2,773
    It might be a problem for selling later but the issue I would raise is that cats regard gravel as a ready-made litter tray. I would use very coarse gravel or pebbles, not the small stuff.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 7,799
    edited February 2019
    Yes, I agree with you that gravel would be better than lawn in that situation and I wouldn't bother doing even a little lawn circle in the middle. Coarse gravel as Posy suggested or you could also think about slate chippings. I find that cats don't poo on our purple slate square at all. Slate comes in purple, plum or green so take your choice. Pebbles might be a bit difficult and slippery to walk on. Paving would also look good but more expensive.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 5,426
    We have replaced our front lawn with gravel and I agree that you shouldn't retain the small section of lawn.  It will be more trouble than it's worth, and grass growth will still be poor.
    Don't make the mistake of thinking you just need to remove the turf and throw down gravel or chippings.  All you will end up with is soggy, muddy gravel or chippings rather than muddy grass.  It will require a firm sub-base and strong weed membrane to get a decent result.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,482
    I'd agree with the others that if you're making the beds bigger, there's no point in having the grass. Prepare the space properly though, as KT53 says, otherwise it'll all sink. 
    You can plant into gravel anyway if you want to make the space more interesting later. I have quite hefty gravel on my paths - it's ideal. If you want to lighten the space, I'd avoid that white gravel and opt for a light coloured one. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Julia1983Julia1983 ShropshirePosts: 139
    Thanks all...  Am going off the idea a little at the thought of all the prep and potential impact when we sell on. We're spending a fair bit having the patio redone and I'm a little worried about the cost implications if we get someone in to do the job. Would digging over the turf and reseeding it help to any degree?  Its a clay soil and I suspect it is very compacted, but despite being south facing gets no sun in the winter as it is overlooked by other buildings. It just makes my heart sink every time I go out there at this time of year! Don't know what to do for the best 😔
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 4,403
    Digging the whole lot out and starting again is a bit excessive - it doesn't look that bad in the picture (except the pale patches that look as if something's been left on the grass).
    The usual process for lawn care to improve drainage is to scarify, ie rake out thatch (the dead grass and gubbins that builds up in amongst the grass), spike fairly deeply with a fork, top-dress with a sandy soil mix and overseed any thin areas.
    I would rake only lightly in spring (you can give it a good going over in autumn) but spiking with a fork will help relieve compaction.  Stick a fork in vertically as deep as you can, wiggle it back and forward a bit, repeat about every 4 inches.  It's knackering so concentrate on the worst compacted bits first (I generally just do the strip under my washing line and the route to the compost bins).  Ideally brush sharp sand or a sand/loam mix into the holes, but it'll still help if you don't do that.

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