Last Modified: February 12, 2024

Laying Garden Pebbles


Laying garden pebbles

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


The Internet has become a popular source of information for gardening and landscaping. However, finding relevant answers to specific questions can be challenging, especially when search results lead to lengthy articles. To address this issue, we have created a series that focuses on frequently asked questions found in the "people also ask" section on Google. Our aim is to provide practical insights and expert advice from a professional landscape gardener's perspective, answering questions briefly but comprehensively. In this series, you will learn about the best materials to use as an underlay for decorative chippings, pea gravel and pebbles, such as landscape fabric, weed membrane, sand and honeycomb gravel grids. You can find the specific questions in the 'quick links' menu.

River pebbles and cotswold gravel in a garden

What do you put under chippings?

Laying a weed membrane under your decorative slate or stone chippings is a low-maintenance approach to garden design. A weed membrane fabric is a cover or sheet that can be laid on top of the soil. Made from a geotextile fabric, it acts as a barrier, effectively blocking weed growth while allowing water and nutrients to permeate. It also serves as a foundational layer that contributes to the longevity and neat appearance of your pebbles or garden chippings. Also known as landscape fabric, it improves drainage, reduces soil erosion and acts as a barrier between the stones and soil, keeping your chippings separated. It also prevents standing water and other drainage issues.

Putting a geotextile fabric beneath chippings is best practice for establishing the longevity of a gravel driveway. This fabric is a robust barrier, effectively keeping the gravel layer separated from the soil, which prolongs the life span of the gravel surface by preventing it from sinking into the soil. This also reduces the need for future replenishments, saving you time and money.

What's the best geotextile landscape fabric for draining water?

The best geotextile landscape fabric for draining water are membranes made from non-woven geotextile fabric. With needle-punched and poly-spun varieties, this design prioritises water permeability, making it ideal for drainage. This type is particularly effective for applications such as French drains, drain fields and controlling erosion. Its structure allows water to pass through efficiently while filtering out sediment, thereby maintaining the functionality and longevity of the drainage system.

Woven weed membrane for water drainage

What do you put down before laying pebbles?

Prior to laying pebbles, it can be beneficial to put down some landscape fabric. It aids in weed prevention by obstructing the growth of weeds and the germination of weed seeds between the pebbles. While it is not essential, skipping a membrane will result in the need for extra maintenance in the future. When laying the fabric, it's important to rake and clear the ground of any sharp objects that might damage the membrane.

What do you put down before laying gravel?

Utilising a heavy-duty weed membrane, sometimes known as driveway fabric, under gravel can significantly enhance soil stabilisation. This is particularly important in areas prone to surface erosion, as the fabric acts as a barrier, mitigating the impact of flooding and heavy rainwater. Securing the gravel addresses one of the key challenges in gravel application, which is ensuring the gravel remains evenly distributed and in place.

Gravel grids, when used together with a heavy-duty weed membrane, offer two benefits. Firstly, the grids enhance the stability of the gravel surface, keeping it firmly in place and minimising the chances of displacement. Secondly, these grids enable efficient drainage, allowing water to filter through while maintaining the quality of the gravel surface. This helps to prevent problems caused by erosion and water-logging.

Polar ice chippings on landscape fabric

What do you put under pebbles in the garden?

When choosing an underlay for pebbles in your garden, landscape fabric, double weed mat, or black plastic are excellent options. While landscape fabric is a common choice, black plastic offers a more robust barrier against weeds. However, it's important to note that plastic does not allow water to pass through, which could affect the watering of plant roots in the area.

What should I put down before using pea gravel?

For areas such as gravel pathways, rock gardens, or places with infrequent watering, spun or woven landscape fabric is the ideal underlay. This non-woven fabric is particularly effective for use under pea gravel, providing a stable and durable base. It's also suitable for use behind retaining walls and under gravel mulches, ensuring a neat and well-maintained garden appearance.

What do you put under pea gravel?

The most common materials to put under pea gravel are landscaping fabric, sand, crushed rock or some combination of these. Additionally, for enhanced stability, especially in areas with high foot traffic or under heavier loads, a honeycomb gravel grid can be employed. This grid provides a firm foundation, ensuring the pea gravel remains even and compact.

Need to work out how much gravel your project needs? Try our free gravel calculator.

Panda gravel edging around a driveway

How do I stop my garden pebbles from moving?

If you want your garden pebbles to remain stationary, you have at least two options. The first and most environmentally sound option is to install some gravel stabilisers, such as honeycomb gravel grids. These easily installed and affordable structures create little pockets of pebbles that pack down and are less prone to movement when traversing by foot or vehicle.

Another alternative to consider is a stone binder, such as PourOn. This innovative solution binds your gravel together, creating a cohesive sheet of pebbles that binds together, resisting movement. The binder effectively prevents debris from embedding within the gravel, and blocks most undergrowth from penetrating the surface. We will now provide the pros and cons of using a gravel binding epoxy resin:

Pros of Resin Surfacing

  1. 1
    Cost-Effective: An affordable solution with consistent finishes.
  2. 2
    DIY-friendly Installation: Can be installed easily, depending on the project size and sub-base condition. No specialist equipment required.
  3. 3
    Low Maintenance: Resistant to staining and easy to clean with simple jet washing and without the need for specialist products.
  4. 4
    SUDS Compliance: Permeable when laid on a porous base, making it compliant with Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) regulations.
Resin bonded gravel close up

Cons of Resin Surfacing

  1. 1
    Drainage Issues: Some smaller stones may not allow sufficient water drainage, leading to puddling if not laid on a fully porous sub-base.
  2. 2
    Moss and Algae: Non-porous surfaces encourage moss and algae, creating slippery conditions. Regular cleaning is necessary to mitigate this.
  3. 3
    Heavy Use Issues: Not ideal for areas with heavy-duty use, such as driveways with frequent vehicle traffic, due to potential for cracks and bumps. Proper installation and the use of a durable product with high tensile strength is crucial.
  4. 4
    Heavy Use Issues: Not ideal for areas with heavy-duty use, such as driveways with frequent vehicle traffic, due to potential for cracks and bumps. Proper installation and the use of a durable product with high tensile strength is crucial.
Laying a limestone chippings border. Jpg

Do you put sand under pebbles?

Incorporating a layer of sand beneath smaller landscaping pebbles, like black polished pebbles, is one way of achieving stability in your garden design. The sand layer acts as a supportive base, allowing the pebbles to slightly embed into the ground, which minimises their potential to shift out of place. This technique is particularly beneficial for ensuring that decorative rocks remain anchored, thereby maintaining the intended aesthetic and functional aspects of your landscaping project.

Placing a geotextile weed fabric beneath the pebbles can help prevent them from sinking into the soil and also inhibit weed growth, providing a stable and low-maintenance surface that can go on top of sand or soil.

How do you keep chippings in place?

Mulch glue offers an effective solution to keep chippings securely in place within your landscape design. This landscape adhesive is specifically formulated to bond mulch, wood chips, gravel, pebbles and other small landscaping materials to the ground. It dries quickly and is permeable, ensuring that water drainage is not impeded, which helps to prevent the accumulation of water on the surface. Utilising mulch glue can be a cost-effective and DIY-friendly way to maintain the integrity and appearance of your landscaping materials.

Garden pebbales around a tree

How do you stop chippings from moving?

Preventing the movement of gravel in driveways, paths or patios can be effectively achieved through the installation of a gravel retention system, known as gravel grids. These systems are ingeniously designed to secure gravel in place, reducing its tendency to move, which prevents the formation of ruts and bare patches. Installing a gravel retention system is very DIY-friendly and cost-effective, giving you a way to create a stable surface that enhances the functionality and look of your outdoor spaces.

Pea gravel and river cobbles next to each other for comparison


Although it is not necessary to lay a membrane beneath chippings for decorative purposes, it is essential for areas that receive traffic, such as pathways, driveways and patios. In most cases, it is recommended to use a weed-proof, non-woven geotextile fabric beneath the chippings for optimal results. Doing so provides several benefits, including weed suppression, reduced maintenance, better drainage, and improved stability. We hope that our 'People also Ask About' series has given you the most suitable answer for your DIY landscaping question.

We have every type of gravel available to choose from in the UK. Check them out!

About the author 

Ben Parrot is a landscape gardener and amateur geologist. He is the founder of Outdoor Aggregates, with the mission to create the first encyclopaedia for decorative aggregates. From natural stone through to decorative bark, these aggregates are critical to garden and landscape design, universally.

The problem: There isn't any place where all the different types of decorative landscaping materials and construction aggregates can be found, nor are the specifications of each type readily available. So, enriched by his extensive experience, and inspired by the timeless elegance and raw beauty of stone and rock, etched by nature's artistry over millennia, Outdoor Aggregates was born.