Last Modified: April 6, 2024

Uses for Leftover Gravel

How To Get Rid Of Gravel Uk Style

Leftover gravel ideas

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


If you were wondering what to do with extra gravel because you have a sizeable amount left over from a project, then we are going to look at some creative ideas about what to do with old gravel. While the possible options are almost limitless, we are here to provide you with some handy ideas on how to get rid of gravel in garden features. Hint: it has nothing to do with drainage for potted plants!

Oh, and have you noticed our new 'Pebble Picker' feature, located in the sidebar or menu? This tool allows you to select and browse every decorative aggregate, by colour and material, with ease.

River pebble mulch in a garden planter. Jpg

Key Takeaways

  • What are some creative and practical ways to use extra or old gravel in the garden or landscaping projects?
  • Are there eco-friendly or sustainable methods for repurposing or disposing of gravel?
  • How can homeowners effectively remove unwanted gravel from their gardens, specifically in the UK context?
  • What should you keep in mind when dealing with leftover rocks and gravel? 
Gravel at the bottom of a plant pot for drainage. Jpg

Welcome to the world of creative gardening! As a landscape gardener, I understand as much as anyone that after completing a project, you might find yourself with a surplus of materials, especially gravel. While it's always prudent to keep a good amount in reserve for top-ups, there is still often a fair bit more to go around. Let's explore some creative uses for leftover gravel in your garden and also touch on some ways to try to give it away.

Wait! Before we do, we are going to point out one use that is very controversial in the online gardening community and not recommended unless you have had success in the past. The use of gravel for improving drainage in pot plants goes back decades, perhaps hundreds. We take a look at that first.

The Myth About Gravel Drainage for Potted Plants

As controversial as this may sound to some people, there is a myth that using gravel in pot plants improves drainage. Research has indicated that water does not move easily and naturally from finer textured materials like potting mix to coarser ones such as gravel. Freakishly, water just tends to accumulate above the gravel layer. This can lead to saturated soils and root rot. In light of this, it is clear that gravel has a bountiful place in pot plant decoration; however, it is not the best substance to use for improving drainage.

For improved drainage, incorporate materials like perlite, vermiculite, coarse sand, or small pebbles into your potting mix. These materials help to increase aeration and water flow in the soil. Let's move on to the main topic of the article: what to do with leftover rocks and gravel.

Shingle used as mulch in between slate chippings

Creative Uses for Extra Gravel in Gardens

While it depends entirely on how much gravel you have left, which could range from a 20 kg bag up to half a bulk bag or more, there are still many ways to use this versatile aggregate, which can bring you both satisfaction and also potentially add a decorative touch to some areas you may not have thought of before.

For the purposes of this article, a small amount is generally equal to about a 20 kg bag or less. A medium amount would equal anywhere from a few bags to 1/ quarter of a bulk bag worth of gravel. A large amount would be anything above that, up to a bulk bag or more. Now, here are some handy ways to utilise that extra gravel, sorted by the amount left over.

Small Amounts of Gravel

  1. 1
    Pot Plant Topper: For a small amount of extra gravel, using it as a plant pot plant top is both decorative and also offers the advantages of acting as a mulch. If the gravel has been used decoratively in your garden already, it will tie in very nicely with your gravel feature.
  2. 2
    Gravel mulch If you have a small to medium amount left over, using gravel as a mulch can look great while helping retain moisture in the soil and keeping weeds at bay. A thin layer, around 2.5 cm (1 inch), spread over the soil can also significantly reduce garden maintenance.
  3. 3
    Paving and path infills: you can also use your extra gravel to fill in the spaces between pavers, especially crazy pavers. Filling in any gaps that would add value to the feature should be worthy of consideration.

Moderate Amounts of Gravel

  1. 1
    Drainage Solutions: Create a French drain in an area with unsuitable drainage. You just have to dig and trench and fill it with the gravel, which in turn will help redirect excess water.
  2. 2
    Sub-base Material: The spare can be used in a mix with large stones for the laying of a sub-base in some other installation.
  3. 3
    Small Gravel Gardens: With or without plants, the concept of a small gravel garden could add significantly to the vibe of your outdoor theme and provide a stylish, low-maintenance feature without costing you any extra.
Gravel for drainage using left over chard flint gravel and scottish river pebbles

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

Large Amounts of Gravel

  1. 1
    Walkways: If you have a medium to large amount, you could create a very laid-back walkway in a section of your garden that has a fair amount of traffic without a path, such as a vegetable patch. A bit of landscaping fabric and a layer of gravel 5cm (2 inches) deep, and you have an inviting walkway with a pleasing crunch underfoot.
  2. 2
    Gravel Patio: While it's a bigger job, gravel is a very effective, low-cost alternative to traditional patio materials. It provides excellent drainage and provides a wonderful, laidback surface for outdoor seating areas.

Lastly, consider giving away excess gravel to local community projects or offering it on platforms like Gumtree or Freecycle. This not only clears your space but also promotes recycling and helps others.

Removing Unwanted Gravel in UK Gardens

Sometimes, the goal is to reduce or remove gravel. Here are some tips for UK gardeners:

  1. Manual Removal: For small areas, the good old-fashioned way of shovelling the gravel into old potting mix bags or the like and taking it to the local recycling centre.
  2. Hire a Professional: For large projects, it might be more efficient to hire a company equipped for gravel removal.

Safety and Aesthetic Considerations in Gravel Use

When incorporating surplus gravel into your garden design, you should apply the same standards and care as if it were the original feature. Consider the gravel's stability and accessibility, choosing the right gravel type and maintaining that drainage is effective. Finally, for aesthetic integration, gravel should be used in ways and places that don't detract from the rest of the garden theme.

Collecting excess gravel from a driveway. Jpg


Gravel, often an overlooked element in gardening, can be a versatile and eco-friendly addition to your outdoor space. Whether you're repurposing it for practical uses like pathways and drainage or using it to add aesthetic value to your garden beds and patios, gravel offers a multitude of possibilities.

Pebble beach in dorset england. Jpg


Can leftover gravel be reused for other purposes?

Yes, leftover gravel can be repurposed in various ways, such as for garden paths, as mulch, in creating water features, or as a decorative element in landscaping projects. Excess gravel can be creatively used for creating garden walkways, accentuating garden beds, as a base for water features, or decorative purposes around a gravel patio and fire pits.

Why is drainage important for potted plants?

Drainage is crucial for potted plants as it prevents waterlogging, which can lead to root rot, fungus growth, and, ultimately, plant death. Proper drainage ensures that excess water can escape, maintaining the right moisture balance in the soil.

Is it possible to recycle or donate extra gravel?

Yes, in the UK, extra gravel can be recycled or donated. It can be offered via platforms such as or Gumntree. If you have large amounts, it can be given to community projects or neighbours.

What are some signs of poor drainage in potted plants?

Signs of poor drainage in potted plants include water pooling at the top of the soil, yellowing or dropping leaves, a musty smell, and stagnant water in the saucer beneath the pot.

What are some creative uses for leftover gravel?

Leftover gravel can be used to make pebble mosaics, as a drainage layer in plant pots, for creating rock gardens, as a ground cover around fire pits, or for crafting DIY gravel patios.

Can excess gravel be used as a base for paving or construction projects?

Excess gravel is ideal for use as a stable base layer in paving or construction projects due to its drainage properties and ability to provide a solid foundation.

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.