How to Lay Crushed Rock

A layer of crushed rock forms the foundation for many outdoor projects.
A layer of crushed rock forms the foundation for many outdoor projects. (Image: Different colored gravel image by Tjobbe from <a href=''></a>)

Crushed rock, or gravel, is a basic but essential part of many projects. It is available in a variety of textures, from fine to blended or coarse. Depending upon your choice of application, you may opt for pea-sized rocks for the bottom of a water feature, variegated gravel beneath topsoil to add drainage to a garden, or white marble chunks of crushed rock for a simple path or floral border. Paved walkways and patios required to bear weight mandate specific procedures for laying crushed rock in order to create a stable and lasting foundation.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy string
  • Wooden stakes or marker flags
  • Shovel or garden spade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Garden rake
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Scissors
  • Crushed rock
  • Manual tamper

Mark the area where you need the crushed rock by delineating the space with heavy string. Outline the perimeter with string for areas such as patios or garden beds, and place string on both the left and the right parallel edges for pathways. Make sure that you include any curves or unique contours in the design as you lay the string.

Place wooden stakes or marker flags along the edges of the string. Once your area and design are marked, replacing the string with stakes or flags will make it easier to work within the boundaries of the chosen space. After placing the stakes or flags, remove the string.

Remove any grass sod from the marked area. Use a shovel or spade to cut down into the soil in a continuous line along the border of the space to a depth of no more than about 3 inches. Inside the cut border, continue by cutting vertically, then horizontally with the shovel or spade, creating sections of sod that are no more than 18 inches square.

Lift out the individual sections of sod with the spade or shovel and place them in a wheelbarrow for later use in another project. Rake the soil thoroughly to remove any large stones or debris left behind.

Unroll landscaping fabric, trim it to fit within the borders of your space and temporarily secure its edges with stakes.

Pour the crushed rock over the landscaping fabric to a depth of at least 3 inches. The fabric should be completely obscured by the rock, especially along the perimeter. Remove the stakes and compress the rock well with a manual tamper for an even surface.

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