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What is the cost to gravel the front garden?

Gravelling over a front garden is a very popular option to cut down on gardening duties but most commonly to increase off-road parking for vehicles. The cost will depend on what is currently in the front garden and how much needs to be removed. Gravel ranges in price from about £30 to £90 per square metre depending on what you use and the oft-quoted industry average is £60 per square metre. Add to this labour charges of around £200 per day and you would be looking at about £1,000 to transform a modestly sized front garden from plants, shrubs and lawn to gravel.

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What other factors affect the cost?

  • The size of the area
  • What you need to remove from it before the gravel is laid which will impact on gardening labour costs and waste disposal
  • The excavation required to prepare a surface to act as a bed for the gravel
  • The type of gravel or chippings you choose
  • What you intend to use the area for, footfall will require less depth than the weight and traffic of vehicles
  • Disposal costs of plants and shrubs and any other debris like old fencing to clear the site before the gravel is laid
  • Your geographical location – London and the South East are always more expensive than anywhere else in the UK

There can be more to it than just gravel

If you are gravelling over the garden to support the weight of one or more vehicles then you will need to install a sub-base first. Gravel is certainly the cheapest option to create an instant driveway but the initial preparatory works will definitely impact on the price.

The process of installing a gravel front garden

The first step is to undertake a site inspection so that the contractor can identify any mains services such as water and gas, any cabling and drain runs which clearly need to be avoided. Next, excavation normally takes place to a depth of 150mm-200mm so this involves removing what is there currently whether that is a lawn or other hard slabs and preparing the earth surface.

After excavation, a layer of weed proof membrane or textile is laid to prevent weeds from breaking through from the soil below. These layers are designed to be permeable so that rainwater will run through, facilitating drainage. Next follows a layer of hardcore material which is usually crushed rock and this acts as the sub-base. A machine - either a compactor or a roller - is used to compact this down but only to a degree as this also needs to be permeable. The gravel is then laid on top, usually, the maximum depth is 50mm, if you lay too much then there is a risk that the cars will become grounded when you turn or it will be impossible to walk over.


image from: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/change-front-garden-grass-gravel-21011.html


What are the advantages of having a gravel front garden?

  • There is little or no maintenance, just spray a couple of times a year to keep any weeds at bay although most gravel areas correctly installed will have a weed-proof membrane or textile beneath the stones
  • Gravel can look softer and more aesthetically pleasing than either concrete or tarmac and it is cheaper than both of these materials
  • It is quick and easy to lay and can be done by the householder unlike other options which require professional installation
  • Cars can be taken off the side of the road which protects them from damage and if they are close enough to the house, it opens up the possibility of an Electric Vehicle with a home charging point

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Different types of gravel

There are lots of different types of gravel available the final choice of which usually depends on what the garden is intended to be used for. Gravel smaller than 20mm, for example, like a pea shingle, is not so suitable for cars as it is small enough to become embedded in the tyre tread.

Top layer choices might include limestone, crushed shale, granite and concrete and there are also lots of different colour options to suit your design and the appearance of your home. Gravel is all about the size of the stones, their shape and cut which indicates how they interlock together and the colour. Most gravel choices are dictated by functionality.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need planning permission to gravel my front garden?

The answer to this is mostly no because gravel is a permeable material and allows for drainage. The law states that non-permeable materials laid in an area of over five square metres will require planning permission. However, if you have a listed property and/or your house is situated in a conservation area then you should check with the local planning authority before you undertake this change even if you are using gravel as the regulations are different for these properties.

Can I gravel my front garden myself?

Gravelling a front garden is one job the householder can do but if you can’t face it, you still save money by at least clearing the site before contractors come in to do the work for you. You will need to excavate the site and lay a sub-layer and membrane, not impossible to do yourself but it will be quicker for a contractor to do it.

How can I find a decent contractor?

Ask friends or neighbours if they can recommend someone or use a local community group on social media. Always obtain two or three quotes before you choose and ensure that the estimate includes everything including the supply of the gravel and the disposal of any waste. Make sure that your chosen contractor does a thorough inspection of the garden for any mains services before work begins.

How long does it take to gravel a front garden?

Usually, it takes two or three days for an average-sized front garden from start to finish subject to any delays for the weather.

For more information on gravelling gardens, see these articles from The Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts.

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