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Levelling Ground Before Gravel

I put some raised beds in last year (I may have mentioned this in a post or two previously 😂) and I'm now prepping what was the lawn, for gravel. I've dug the ground over with a cultivator acquiring blisters on my palms and a not small amount of sun burn in the process. I've compressed it around the edges of the raised beds and at present, it's looking as though the edges are going to be higher than the rest of the ground. As it is, the bottom of the beds are approximately 5cm below the adjacent patio slabs so the gravel being even lower than that isn't an option. If I should need to bring the ground level up, what's the best thing to do it with? I was thinking perhaps sharp sand?


  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Not sure what gravel you are using but just put more on in the dips and less on the higher areas. If you intend to use a membrane get a quality heavy duty one.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,380
    I second K67's advice, gravel is a great leveller in itself - no need to level the underlayer.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • I'm using 15-20mm moonstone. At the moment I don't know how substantial the difference is between the edges of the ground and the rest (I'm going to measure that once I've trodden the soil down at bit). At a depth of 5cm, I'm on the cusp of 2/3 bulk bags. Due to Covid, only bulk bags are available and the risk of needing a few more cms in places could push me into 3 bulk bags hence why I'd rather level with another material first. 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,380
    @februarysgirl - I see your problem - tricky! 
    If it was me, rather than spend out on a third bag, I would just do the best with what I had for the time being and hope I could get more to match in a smaller amount at a later date.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Is there a reason why you can't level your existing soil. Your stone looks pretty chunky rather than flat so you won't notice if it dips slightly at the edges. How big an area are you covering? Any chance of a photo?
    Maybe plant up some ground cover plants in the gravel  creeping phlox is evergreen and spreads nicely.
    I know Homebase sell it in bags.
    Do you have a dog  if ours uses the gravel for her business we always lose a few stones picking it up as I don't want to pick them out! Surprising how much you lose over time so having a bit extra is handy and can also be used as drainage in pots or mulch on top

  • @K67 I'm in the process of leveling the soil I have at the moment. I went over it initially with an electric tiller to break it up and then dug it over with a cultivator. I'm now picking out the lumps of turf so i can compress the soil by foot and assess what kind of difference in depth I'm looking at. The idea of adding sand is simply as a cheap way to raise and level it out. The area in question is around 20 sqm and this is a photo from a couple of months ago before I dug over what was left of the lawn.

    I'm not looking to plant anything in the ground outside of the raised beds although I will be adding some pots to soften the straight lines to make the path look more winding than angular. Due to finances, it's going to take a few years before I have anywhere near enough potted plants to obscure the straight edges.

    I don't have a dog anymore, my little sweetheart died 10 years ago 😔 Our road does however have a plethora of cats. Not including our own, I've captured 6 different cats in our garden on my wildlife camera. They are prone to use our garden as a public convenience so I asked Stonewarehouse what would be best to use, they said large angular gravel. Apparently cats don't like the feel of it on their paws so I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that one. My shed doesn't have enough room to store much of anything so keeping any significant amount of gravel for topping up in future simply won't be possible.

  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    That looks very good.
    I would just kill off the grass and leave it as it is, cover with a strong membrane as it's going to be a path and get your 2 bags of gravel you can bank it up slightly to meet your paving.
    If you leave the grass and get cheap membrane you will find grass growing through it and round the edges..  I speak from experience!
    I like the angular look so would perhaps only add a few pots in a corner but too many would spoil the sharp look and also get in the way of weeding.
  • @K67 The grass is mostly dead from where I went over it with an electric tiller then cultivator earlier this week. I've been collecting up the dead clumps today and putting them in a bag to let them break down for future use. I already have my heavy duty membrane 😁

    I was going to stick with the angular look, however having binge watched Love Your Garden and Garden Rescue during lockdown and seen some stunning photos of courtyard gardens, I'd prefer to tone down the sharp look and increase the planting. Ideally, I'd like a woodland style with lots of foliage but I may have to wait until the plum/greengage trees have matured before I can get away with that because my garden is south facing and gets stupidly hot.
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