Last Modified: February 9, 2024

Introduction to Self Binding Gravel

DIY Guide for Rockery Construction

Self binding gravel path

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


Self binding gravel is a natural form of surface composed of different sized gravel, fines and occasionally a binding agent. Due to its composition, it is a cost-effective and very DIY friendly type of material. It is a very popular material for use in outdoor settings ranging from pathways through to bridleways, with some types such as Breedon gravel gaining the Royal assent and adorning heritage areas.

There are many types and applications for self binding gravel, and in this article we take a detailed look at these issues along with many others related in order to help you to decide whether it is right for your project and what the best options are for your needs. We certainly hope we are Breedon the next generation of British DIY landscape gardeners. Let's roll!

Mot type 1 sub base

Key Takeaways

  • What is self-binding gravel, and how does it differ from other types of gravel?
  • What are the applications and uses for self-binding gravel in gardening and landscaping?
  • What are the different types of self-binding gravel available?
  • Can you lay self-binding gravel over tarmac or concrete?
  • How much self-binding gravel do I need?

What is Self-Binding Gravel Made of?

Imagine a serene garden path or a rustic driveway where the gravel beneath your feet remains compact and neatly in place, complementing the natural surroundings. This is the essence of self-binding gravel. Distinct from traditional gravel loose stones, self-binding gravel contains a significant amount of fines — tiny particles that act as a binder when compressed. This creates a stable, permeable surface and fairly low-maintenance option for walkways and driveways. It's the fines that differentiate self-binding gravel, ensuring a firm footing and reducing upkeep hassles, making it less prone to displacement and blending seamlessly with natural landscapes.

Child walking along a gravel path in a forest

How Does Self Binding Gravel Work?

Understanding the makeup of self-binding gravel is key to appreciating its value in landscaping. This versatile construction ingredient is a mix of gravel, sand, clay, and a significant amount of fines (dust). When compacted, these elements interlock, creating a stable and semi-permeable surface distinct from traditional gravel. The fines are crucial as a binder, supporting the larger particles and allowing water permeation, thus mitigating water runoff and erosion.

Making the Right Choice

Whether your selecting a self binding path gravel, or a self binding gravel for driveways, picking a suitable type always involves considering the intended use, aesthetics, local availability and drainage requirements. Each type offers unique characteristics, so choose one that aligns with your project's specific needs and style. We have detailed insights and specifications about Hoggin self binding gravel and Breedon gravel. If you have any doubts, consultation with local suppliers based on regional climate and soil conditions is recommended.

Crushed grey granite driveway


Self-binding gravel comes in a range of colours, from silver and grey to buff, gold and even red. Here is a list of the most available colours, which can be found in some of the popular brands mentioned or also as generic, locally manufactured materials.

  1. 1
    Self binding gravel grey or silver
  2. 2
    Cotswold buff
  3. 3
    Old English
  4. 4
    Chocolate Brown from Coxwell
  5. 5
    Black basalt 
  1. 6
  2. 7
    Golden amber
  3. 8
    Summer Gold
  4. 9
    Blue to grey Welsh slate

Next, we cover the most common applications suitable for self-biding gravel.

Stone path in ring of kerry ireland. Jpg


  • Self binding gravel path
  • Self binding gravel patio
  • Self binding gravel driveways
  • Bridleways

Self-binding gravel has a broad range of uses, from residential driveways to rural walkways, as it is a cost-effective and reasonably durable surface. A self binding gravel pathway offers a firm, permeable surface suitable for pedestrian use. However, a self-binding gravel driveway is not as durable as others, such as loose-fill stone chippings for driveways, so it's best suited to light vehicular traffic. 

In gardens, it can be used for creating patios, borders and outdoor seating areas. The gravel is low maintenance, with the natural look favoured in commercial landscapes like golf courses, woodland paths and for bridleways, offering a solid and budget-friendly surface for equestrian activities. Self binding Breedon gravel has the royal seal and is widely used for heritage sites.

Woodland path with hardwood edging

Exploring the Varieties

  1. 1
    Breedon self binding gravel
  2. 2
  3. 3
    Generic local brands
  1. 4
    Goldpath self binding gravel
  2. 5
    Cedec gravel
  3. 6
    Welsh Slate self binding gravel

The variety of products is often influenced by local geology, giving each type a unique regional identity and low carbon footprint. In the UK, for example, limestone-based grey self binding gravel is common in the North, while in Scotland Old Red Sandstone-based options are more common.

Renowned types include Hoggin and Breedon Gravel, a crushed magnesian limestone from Derbyshire, noted for its 'Golden Amber' hue and often used in royal estates for its regal appearance. These gravels offer not just diverse colours and textures but also varying degrees of compactness and longevity, making the selection as much about function as form. Another popular choice is 'Cedec,' a durable and cost-effective selection valued for its versatility and availability through the CED group. 

Close up of hoggin

Hoggin vs Self Binding Gravel

Hoggin is a natural blend of gravel, sand, and clay without any added binding agents, offering a traditional, more rustic surface that can become muddy in the wet. By contrast, self-binding gravel can include binders or additional fines (dust particles) which, when compacted, create a firmer, more stable surface that's less prone to shifting and better suited for wet conditions and drainage.

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

Self Binding Gravel UK: Product List

Although it is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a selection of the self-binding gravel products available in the UK:

  1. 1
    Mainland Aggregates Ltd offers a range of self-binding gravels, ideal for footpaths, bridleways, cycle paths, and golf courses. Their gravels are typically graded from 10mm to dust, with fines essential for compaction. Mainland Aggregates
  2. 2
    Mick George Ltd provides self-binding gravel that is a blend of 10mm or 8mm sized gravel particles, gravel dust, sand, and clay. This product is suitable for paths and driveways. Mick George
  3. 3
    Aggregates Direct offers self-binding path gravel sourced sustainably from Derbyshire. This product is known for its low maintenance and weathered appearance. Aggregates Direct
  4. 4
    Cornwhaul provides a 0-6mm silver/grey self-binding gravel, suitable for construction and groundworks. Cornwhaul
  5. 5
    Dandy's Topsoil offers self-binding gravel perfect for paths, golf courses, cycle paths, bridleways, and larger walkways. Dandy's Topsoil
  6. 6
    Premium Topsoil Supplies offers Self-Binding Buff Gravel, a unique and natural material for creating rustic-looking footpaths. Premium Topsoil Supplies
  7. 7
    Watling Reclamation sells self-binding gravel, known for forming a compact and stable surface. Watling Reclamation
  8. 8
    CEMEX UK provides Self-Binding Path Gravel, a hard-wearing and attractive aggregate ideal for laying paths. CEMEX UK
Breedon crushed path through woods

How To Lay Self Binding Gravel

Laying self binding gravel paths is easily within the scope of DIY. The process involves preparing a solid base, typically a compacted sub-base, and spreading the gravel in layers, each compacted using a roller or vibrating plate compactor. This approach assures the surface is smooth and firm. Laying self-binding gravel on impermeable surfaces can interfere with the binder and lead to water drainage issues and inadequate binding, leading to our next section.

Can You Lay Self-Binding Gravel Over Tarmac or Concrete?

Laying self-binding gravel over tarmac or on concrete is not generally recommended, as water drainage is crucial, plus it may lead to insufficient binding of the gravel. For optimal results, it should be applied over a compacted sub-base to ensure proper binding and permeability.

Sheep crossing a breedon gravel road. Jpg

Self Binding Gravel Pros and Cons

While self-binding gravel offers low maintenance, cost-effectiveness and a natural appearance, it's not without its drawbacks. It's less suited for high-traffic or steep areas and can become uneven or damaged after heavy use or in very wet conditions. It is not weed-resistant, so a weed membrane should be strongly considered.

How Much Self-binding Gravel do I Need for a Project?

When planning any landscaping project, determining the right quantity of materials can have a significant influence on the outcome. Consider the project area and desired coverage depth, typically around 50mm (about 2 inches). Generally, using a self binding gravel calculator is an elegant and simple way estimate the required amount based on your project's dimensions. It's usually wise to err on the side of getting a bit extra rather than facing a shortfall mid-project, which can end up costing a lot more.

Well used public path in nature


Whether you're creating a pathway, a bridleway, or a outdoor living space for gatherings, self-binding gravel is a versatile, eco-friendly option for landscaping. For self binding gravel drives, understanding the properties, types and limitations will help you to make the right choice for your construction project. Remember to calculate your needs accurately, choose a type that best suits your project's requirements and always consult local experts if you have any doubts. Now, don't be Hoggin the computer, and get ready to renovate your outdoor space!

Path hoggin gnome on horseback.


Are there any alternatives to using self-binding gravel?

Alternatives to using self binding gravel include traditional loose-fill gravel, resin-bound gravel surfaces, paving stones and other decorative aggregates, each offering different properties.

What is the gravel that doesn't move and what are the common uses?

This refers to self-binding or bound gravel, where the tiny gravel particles stick together to form a stable surface. Common uses include garden paths, driveways, patios, and landscaping features due to their aesthetic appeal, stability, and low maintenance requirements.

How is binding gravel different from regular gravel?

Unlike regular gravel, self-binding gravel contains fines that bind the particles together when compacted, creating a firmer and more stable surface that's less prone to displacement.

How do you make self-binding gravel? 

Installation involves preparing a compacted sub-base, spreading the gravel in layers, and compacting each layer to encourage cohesion and stability.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using self-binding gravel?

Advantages include its natural aesthetic, durability, low maintenance, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and versatility in various landscaping applications. Disadvantages include potential displacement under heavy use, susceptibility to weed growth, and performance issues in waterlogged areas or steep slopes.

Can self-binding gravel be used for driveways or pathways?

Yes, self-binding gravel is suitable for pathways and driveways for light traffic. It offers a stable and naturally attractive surface.

Is it permeable?

Yes, self-binding gravel is permeable, allowing water to seep through, which helps reduce runoff and erosion.

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.