Last Modified: April 6, 2024

Stone Chippings for Driveways

DIY guide to selecting the best gravel

White spar chips drive way

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


When it comes to enhancing the utility and aesthetics of your home, few elements make as striking an impact as well-constructed landscaping. No matter what colours you gravitate towards, from the rich reds of granite to the crisp whites of polar white gravel, a well-chosen hardscape can add a significant aesthetic boost to your property. From a beautifully laid driveway, complete with golden gravel, to inviting garden paths laid with colourful cobbles, landscape design with decorative aggregates presents a palette as diverse as it is engaging.

This guide delves into the essentials of selecting the right stone chippings for your driveway, catering to British taste and an eye for the range of decorative gravels and aggregates available over here. From the pragmatic aspects of size and durability to the visual allure of different colours and types of decorative pebbles and stone options, we'll provide a fundamental overview of the choices to help you make an informed decision for your home's first impression.

Additionally, be sure to check out our 'Pebble Picker' feature, located in the sidebar or menu. This tool facilitates effortless selection and browsing of various decorative aggregates based on colour and type.

Grey granite chips driveyway

Key Takeaways

Benefits of a Gravel Drive

Gravel driveways offer several benefits, such as improving the look of your property and increasing its value. Compared to concrete or block paving driveways, they are a more DIY-friendly project because of the versatility that comes with using loose gravel. Below are some of the good reasons for selecting a gravel driveway:

  1. 1
    Versatile Aesthetics: Gravel comes in so many colours and textures which can be used to create a natural look that can complement any style of home, from modern to country cottage. It also adds value as it is associated with higher value homes.
  2. 2
    Security Feature: Gravel makes a distinctive 'crunching' sound, so is great security warning as you can hear people coming.
  3. 3
    Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to concrete, pavers or asphalt, gravel is a budget-friendly option. Although the price of decorative aggregates can range from budget right up to premium level, materials and installation process for a gravel driveway is generally very affordable for most budgets.
  4. 4
    Environment and Planning: Gravel is a permeable material, allowing rainwater to filter through and replenish groundwater. The eco-friendly aspect reduces runoff and should align with in-coming sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDs) regulations.
  5. 5
    Durable and Low-Maintenance: When installed correctly and maintained, they can last for decades making a gravel driveway a very cost-effective investment. Maintenance is also very easy and only required occasionally.
  6. 6
    DIY-Friendly: With adequate guidance and initial planning, individuals of any level of experience can effectively install gravel driveways, as previously mentioned.

Now that we have covered shown the advantages of installing a gravel driveway, there are some downsides to consider.

Cons of Gravel Driveways

  1. 1
    Accessibility Issues: Particularly with rounded pea gravel or loosely packed surfaces, it can be a challenge for people with mobility devices as well as for moving bins and other heavy garden items on wheels.
  2. 2
    Maintenance: Requires occasional maintenance to keep loosely packed stones from spreading or forming ruts.
  3. 3
    Steep Gradients: In most cases, it is impractical to use gravel on steep slopes unless it is correctly stabilised and well packed.

Now that we have covered the pros and cons, we get into the basics of what to consider when making your plan.

Making a Plan

When planning and designing a driveway, it's important to carefully consider the look you want to achieve. You should also think about whether you want outdoor lighting and if you plan to add any plants or trees. It's a good idea to involve your family in the project and create a sketch on grid paper to help everyone visualise the plan.

Before you start your driveway project, you should mark out the area and measure the length and width. If there's a curve, you should lay string or rope around the outside edge and measure it when it's straight to get an accurate measurement. Make sure you inspect the soil before continuing to avoid damaging any underground cables. If the soil is sandy or too soft, it's recommended to add additional hardcore to reduce the likelihood of future drainage problems. Lastly, it's important to plan your drainage so that it leads toward the street and stormwater drains and away from your house!

Planning Permission - No Problemo!

Sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDs) regulations apply to hard surfacing in front gardens over 5 square metres. However, you can easily avoid requiring planning permission by using permeable or porous surfacing options that allow rainwater to soak into the ground. This makes gravel a very convenient and easy alternative because permeable paving or surfacing materials usually don't require planning permission. However, it's always best to check your local council prior to moving forward with your project - just to be on the safe side.

With your plan bubbling away, it's time to move on to selecting your aggregates.

How to Choose the Best Chippings for Driveways

The choice of stone for your driveway extends beyond mere aesthetics. It's about finding the right balance between form and function. Hard-wearing stones like basalt, granite, flint and quartz are optimal for driveways and capable of enduring heavy traffic without losing their structural integrity. The shape is just as crucial – stones with sharp and irregular edges tend to compact better, providing a more stable and durable surface.

When it comes to understanding the best type of gravel or stone chippings for your driveway, there are four main considerations:

  1. 1
    Type of stone
  2. 2
    Shape of the aggregate
  3. 3
  4. 4

Type of stone

The type of stone or material that your aggregate is made of can influence the durability of your driveway surface. It can also have some effect on the garden surroundings, for instance, when using Cotswold stone chippings or limestone-based aggregates. Because these stones are alkaline, they can affect border plantings and the surrounding gardens or water features in some cases.


The shape of the aggregate is also very important to consider. Angular, crushed gravels interlock the best for creating a stable, hard-wearing surface, although these types are by no means the only alternative suitable for paths or driveways. The widespread use of slate chippings for driveways is a testament to that.


Regarding the size of your stone chippings, the smaller the aggregate, the more likely it is that it will get stuck in your tire treads and scatter around. For that reason, aggregates in the 14 - 20mm diameter range are the most utilised size for gravel driveways.


Lastly, the all-important colour. When it comes to this, it is obviously one of the most critical choices. It is about expression of individual taste as well as coordination with surrounding gardens, features and the style and colour scheme of the house.

Spoiled for Choice in the UK

There is a vast range of different coloured gravel and stone chippings graded to 14 - 20mm, which are too large to be caught in tyre treads, but is also far too large to list in this article. The good news for British readers is that this website is also the first and only encyclopaedia decorative aggregates in the world - born and bred right here in the UK for British homeowners.

Alongside a growing reference library of landscaping resources like this one, it is the only comprehensive list of gravels and decorative aggregates available in the UK, and it is right here on this website. Perhaps choosing by colour or your preferred type of stone could be a helpful way to start your exploration. If that's the case, then click on the colour picker in the sidebar, and it will take you right to the stones and other aggregates of your choice. (feature coming soon)

Golden gravel path and drive with cobblestones

The Categories of Driveway Gravels

The following are the most common categories of driveway gravel that are used for construction worldwide.

  1. 1
    Crushed Stone: Crushed stone is a popular choice for its cost-effectiveness, angular shape and varied colour palette, which incorporates some stunning blends, such as flamingo gravel, with its serene mix of pink, grey and buff hues. Its versatility extends to serving as both a top or sub-base layer, offering homeowners flexibility in design and use.
  2. 2
    20mm Gravel: Renowned for its smooth texture and pleasing amber and brown hues, 20mm pea gravel adds a gentle contrast to any setting. While it's visually appealing, it's essential to accompany it with proper edging to maintain its place. Ideal as a top layer, pea gravel is a go-to for homeowners seeking a blend of practicality and aesthetics.
  3. 3
    Marble Gravel: Diverging from traditional gravel, marble chips offer an opalescent, eye-catching sparkle, particularly under sunlight. While the idea of a marble driveway might raise concerns about maintenance, these chips prove surprisingly resilient against the tests of everyday use.
  4. 4
    20mm Shingle Gravel: Recognisable for its sub-angular-to-round, smooth stones, this gravel type is a tapestry of earth tones – browns, whites, greys, and blacks. Frequently used in paving and landscaping, for shingle driveways, the gravel is typically used as a top layer and is a solid choice for those seeking a natural, understated elegance.
  5. 5
    Granite Chippings: Embodying durability and style, granite chippings come in a range of colours, from the subtle forest green to the striking sunset red. These hard-wearing, weather-resistant stones are a high-end option, offered at a worthwhile price, for those looking to combine functionality with a touch of luxury in their garden construction.
Flowers in a front garden. Jpg

Five Popular Examples

In the diverse range of stone chippings' products, here are five notable mentions - one from each of the above categories - each bringing a unique vibe and functionality in hardscaping.

Ice Chippings: Also known as black ice chippings, with their crystalline allure and durable nature, they serve as an exquisite and practical aggregate for driveways.

Quartz Gravel: With a rustic, coastal mix of colours and neutral pH, quartz gravel aggregates are both cost-effective and super versatile.

Polar White Gravel: Stunning and durable, these marble chippings give an added sense of space, making the most of every beam of light to brighten areas of your garden, gleaming with sophistication.

20mm Shingle: 20mm shingle gravel is comprised of angular and rounded stones from either crushed or natural rock, offering warm brown to buff hues and lovely textures.

Red Granite Chippings: For a bold statement, these highly durable chippings offer a vibrant splash of colour without breaking the bank.

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

In the next section we cover the basic aspects of installation. However, we also have a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on installing a gravel driveway.

The Basics of Installation

Installing a stone chipping driveway is one of the more challenging DIY projects, although it may be less daunting than it appears. This can be a DIY project for those with a bit of know-how and the right tools, or it can be entrusted to professionals for a seamless finish.

Determining the appropriate depth for your stone chippings is crucial to establish prior to digging. This should be 15-20cm in order to make enough space for the sub-base and then a 5-10cm layer of gravel.

The process generally starts with preparing the ground. It involves clearing the area, ensuring proper levelling, and laying a compacted sub-base, usually MOT type 1 sub base, to provide stability.

Next comes the heavy duty weed membrane – an essential step to minimise maintenance by preventing weed growth through the gravel. It's essential to ensure that the membrane covers the entire area and overlaps at the edges for complete protection.

Having chosen the variety of decorative gravel, pebbles or shingle for your driveway, the final phase will then implement the chosen theme by laying the stones and completing your gravel driveway's construction. Your gravel or stone chippings now need to be evenly distributed over the area. To get the job done, you will need the right tools, which we cover below.

Flint shingle parking area in front of a house

Essential Equipment for Driveway Installation

To ensure a smooth and efficient installation of your stone chipping driveway, it's crucial to have the right equipment on hand. Also, having access to clear information about the process is vital:

Basic Gardening Tools: Picks and hoeing tools will be needed for digging the trench if you haven't sought out the hire of some earth-moving equipment. A spirit level would also be beneficial in achieving that flat base. A sturdy rake is essential for spreading gravel evenly, while buckets and a shovel will be useful for moving gravel into place. A wheelbarrow is irreplaceable for transporting gravel from the delivery spot to the site.

Power Tools (to Hire): Compacting tools, like a whacker or roller, will be required to flatten down the sub-base so that it is compact and level. These can be hired from a variety of places that also provide earth-moving equipment.

Fabric Membrane: A high-quality weed control fabric membrane is vital for long-term maintenance. This layer acts as a barrier, preventing weeds from penetrating the gravel while allowing water and nutrients to pass through, maintaining soil health beneath the driveway.

Edging Materials: Edging is crucial, particularly for loose gravel types like pea gravel or driveway shingle. It keeps the gravel contained and prevents it from spreading onto lawns or walkways. Options for edging materials include metal, timber, brick, or stone edging. The choice depends on the aesthetic preference and the level of containment needed. Properly installed edging not only adds to the driveway's appearance but also contributes to its stability and longevity.

If you are looking for a deeper dive into how to install a DIY driveway or edging, we have step-by-step guides available in our articles: Installing a Gravel Driveway and How to Make Edging For a GardenNow that we have covered the basic steps of installing a gravel driveway, we are going to look at some alternatives to loose-fill stones for driveways.

Alternative Types of Gravel Driveways

Aside from traditional loose gravel driveways, there are a couple of other options that include gravel:

Resin-Bound Gravel Driveways: This type involves mixing fine pea gravel with a clear resin to create a smooth, durable surface. Resin-bound driveways are permeable, allowing water to drain through and reducing the risk of puddles and standing water. They offer a more stable surface than loose gravel, as the stones are bound together, reducing displacement and the need for regular maintenance.

Self-Binding Gravel: Self-binding gravel, such as Breedon gravel, is a blend of aggregates and fines that bind together when rolled, providing a firmer and more stable surface than loose gravel. This option is often used for a pathway or rural settings, but it can also work for natural-looking driveways. It's particularly suitable for areas that experience heavier foot traffic or light vehicular use. The compacted surface of self-binding gravel minimises dust and stone displacement, making it a practical yet attractive option. Stone chippings for driveways are a popular outdoor choice due to their durability and ability to withstand heavy traffic while maintaining an appealing appearance.

Natural rock formation. Jpg


Choosing the right stone chippings for your driveway isn't rocket science, and there are quite a few ways to get a great result that is durable and also pleasing to the eye. With such an extensive range of suitable aggregates available in the UK, your final choice will come down to your aesthetic theme, the type of traffic and frequency, and your budget. Now that you understand the types of materials and their suitability, what is broadly required for installation and how to maintain it, you are in a much better position to take the next step.

If you believe you have what it takes to build a gravel driveway using the resources available online and your own experience, which includes the help of others, then you are well placed to take it to the next step. However, we also emphasise that there is no shame in seeking the opinion or even services of professionals for such an important job. Ultimately, by equipping yourself with the necessary tools and knowledge, you will be in the best position to create a driveway that not only transforms the look of your property's entrance but also one that stands the test of time.

Polar ice chippings with tarmac parking


What are the advantages of using gravel for driveways?

Gravel driveways offer cost-effectiveness, easy installation, low maintenance, and excellent drainage, making them a practical and aesthetic choice for homeowners.

What are the best chippings to utilise?

The best chippings for driveways are durable and hardwearing materials like granite, basalt, and quartz, known for their stability and ability to withstand heavy traffic.  A slate driveway can be another lovely option to consider.

How do I install a gravel drive?

To install a gravel driveway, prepare the ground, lay a compacted sub-base and a weed control membrane, then evenly spread the gravel using the correct tools, as mentioned in. the article above.

How do I maintain a shingle driveway?

Maintain a shingle driveway by regularly raking to even out the surface, topping up gravel as needed, and controlling weeds, either manually or with a weed control fabric.

Is it necessary to use a weed control barrier under the driveway chippings?

Using a weed control barrier under driveway chippings is highly recommended as it suppresses weed growth, reducing maintenance and ensuring a cleaner, more stable driveway.

What is the average lifespan of a stone chippings surface?

The average lifespan of stone chippings on a driveway can vary, but they generally last many years, with durability depending on the type of stone and level of maintenance.

Are there any considerations or precautions when using stone chippings in areas with heavy rainfall?

In areas with heavy rainfall, ensure proper drainage for stone chippings driveways and consider using permeable materials like a weed membrane or resin-bound gravel to prevent water accumulation. Ensuring that the soil beneath has sufficient drainage is also an important factor.

There are many wonderful types of gravel and aggregates available for your project needs. 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.