Decorative stones: how to use each type in your garden
Decorative stone is a term that encompasses a wide range of materials, including gravel, pebbles, and slate.
While all serve to visually enhance your garden, each type has its own individual benefits. Here is a breakdown of each type of decorative stone, what they’re best used for, and where to get high-quality stone from.
Smooth and round, pebbles are formed when a stone's rough edges are slowly eroded by running water. As such, they will look perfectly at home as part of a garden water feature. We recommend using colourful pebbles like our 14-20mm Scottish pebbles for an authentic feel.
Pebbles also make good garden pathways, due to their rounded surface being safe to walk on barefoot. You can even combine pebbles with landscape fabrics like our woven geotextile to prevent weeds from growing underneath.
Finally, you can place pebbles on top of potted plant soil. Not only does this improve the plant’s aesthetics, but it prevents the soil from drying out or eroding, helping your plants grow strong.
Avoid using pebbles on driveways. Because they are so smooth, pebbles will move and shift under the heavy weight of a vehicle. This will cause the driveway to quickly deteriorate.
Slate is a fine-grained, metamorphic rock that splits easily into thin slabs. ‘Metamorphic’ simply means it was once a different kind of rock, but was transformed into another kind with heat or pressure. In the case of slate, it was formed from shale or mudstone.
Much sharper and larger than pebbles, slate is perfect for decorating borders. For example, our black slate would make for a dramatic and modern accent to a path, pond, or patio.
Slate makes for a poor driveway material, as there is always the chance that a sharp piece could slice open your tyre. Slate is also a relatively brittle material, so putting it under constant stress from heavy cars will cause it to crumble it over time. This will lead to the build up of dust, which could inhibit drainage.
Gravel & Shingle
Gravel is made up of loose rock fragments. Although it is formed as part of natural erosion, most gravel used in construction is produced in quarries, where rocks such as sandstone, limestone, and basalt are crushed into small fragments.
Gravel and shingle are grippy, durable stones, making them excellent choices for driveways and paths. In fact, they are one of the cheapest driveway options available. Outside of filling in the uneven surface every now and then, driveway gravel is largely maintenance free and has no chance of cracking or sinking like asphalt or concrete.
Gravel and shingle are very good at draining water. If your garden is habitually waterlogged and causing your plants and flowers to suffer, installing a French drain using gravel or shingle will help the water drain harmlessly away.
Premium decorative stones from M B Wilkes
Browse our wide range of premium decorative stones to find the perfect type for your garden.