Gravel as a term refers to crushed rock, usually the size of small pebbles. It is mechanically broken down into small pieces and sold in bulk as a covering for various different surfaces. It is most commonly used on driveways, paths, or as a covering for flower beds. It can also be used as a base on which to lay concrete, paving slabs, asphalt, retaining walls, sheds, or the foundations of buildings.
Good drainage - gravel is extremely permeable and allows water to pass easily through it. This makes it a good covering for things like flower beds since water can still reach the soil below.
Noise - it may sound counter-intuitive, but the fact that gravel is a noisy surface to walk on means that it works as a security measure in some homes. It warns of people or vehicles arriving in the driveway and therefore can act as either a rudimentary alarm system or a deterrent for prospective criminals.
Solidity - gravel provides an extremely solid basis on which to lay other materials. Because it can be easily compressed and acts as a fluid in terms of remaining level, it makes a strong and robust base on which to lay heavier materials like concrete.
Low maintenance - unlike other types of surface, it requires very little maintenance, thereby helping it to look great in all weathers with no input from you.
One of the few problems you may find with gravel is that – despite being made of tiny pieces of rock – cumulatively, it can be very heavy. To get enough gravel to cover a flower bed, a path, or a driveway can be difficult to manage, particularly if you don’t drive a truck or other large vehicle. On top of that, when you arrive back at home with your cubic yard of gravel (or similar amount), you’ll find that maneuvering the bag around to where you need it to be can be extremely tricky.
Gravel en masse acts like a fluid, meaning that it can very easily spill; it also makes it difficult to move by yourself. Therefore, it’s almost certainly worth paying for delivery. Not only will it make moving it far easier (and you can have it placed in the exact spot you need it), but also there is an economy of scale, meaning that you may be able to get the delivery costs for free if you purchase enough gravel from somewhere nearby.
This guide will walk you through all of the key aspects of gravel delivery so that you can make a smart, informed decision based on your own landscaping needs. Depending on your budget, there are ways you can cut costs as well as ways you can pay a premium. Being prepared in advance will help you weigh up the best choice for you. The below figures will give you an estimate of what you can expect to pay – and not pay – depending on your own specific circumstances.
The most common units of gravel purchasing is either by weight, volume, or area (as in the potential area you can cover with an amount of gravel).
The overall price ranges for these are the following:
– One ton of gravel will cost somewhere between $10 and $50
– One cubic yard of gravel will cost somewhere between $15 and $75
– One square foot of gravel will cost somewhere between $0.40 and $3
If you need to buy in larger quantities, you can buy gravel by the truck load. This will cost you somewhere around $1,350 per truck, depending on the type of gravel you choose, the volume of the specific truck, as well as the distance required for the truck to travel.
In many cases, gravel delivery will be free within a 5 mile radius from the place you buy it from. Beyond that, will you need to pay additional fees for delivery – or for hiring a truck yourself. Both of these costs are outlined in the ‘Additional Costs’ section below.
Depending on how much help you need, you can also include gravel spreading in the cost of the delivery. This will mean that the professionals unload the gravel from the truck and place it in your yard or driveway, exactly where it needs to be. If you choose this option, you’ll not need to do any of the work yourself – this is the fully comprehensive option.
Generally, you’ll expect to pay somewhere between $12 per square yard or $46 per hour for this – whichever is the larger figure. There is a lot of variance in this, however, so use these numbers only as a ballpark and be sure to get at least three quotes.
The numbers quoted above are all average figures. You can save money by choosing cheaper options (or example, by spreading the gravel yourself) or increase the budget by choosing more exclusive options. The two main ways you can change the budget is by choosing a different type of gravel, and by changing the amount of work you do yourself via hauling. These two options are discussed below:
As mentioned above, gravel comes in a wide range of different grades. Each of these grades comes at a slightly different price point.
The main options are below:
Type of Gravel
Price per cubic yard
Price per ton
Plain pea gravel
$60 - $90
$70 - $100
If you decide to buy the gravel yourself from a hardware store or a wholesaler, you may be able to save some money by hauling the gravel yourself. Again, you’ll need to factor in the cost of your own labor – if you are having to take time off work to do so, you should consider that in any financial calculations that you make.
If you are moving a large amount of gravel, you will most likely need to rent a dump truck to move it. This will cost you somewhere around $265 per day (and you will most likely only need one day). In some jurisdictions, a dump truck requires additional licensing, and it’s rare they will rent to anyone under the age of 25.
A further calculation to consider is that you may need a delivery a long distance away from the site of purchase. Most of the time, a delivery is free within a 5 mile radius. After that, you will pay something around $10/mile. If you live 50 miles away from the place you purchased your gravel, you will pay around $450 for delivery.
Be sure to consider all of these options when looking at gravel delivery. You may also be able to negotiate a better rate for delivery over a certain distance as well – remember to get multiple quotes before you proceed with a purchase.
Aside from making sure it doesn’t spill out from its designated areas, gravel will look as great after 10 years as it does after 10 minutes. If you’re being particular, you can also tailor the type of gravel you get to your specific circumstances.
There is even a scale used to measure the size of gravel – the Udden-Wentworth scale. This categorizes gravel depending on the size of the stones. The smallest size is granule sized, and the largest is boulder-sized. Generally, however, you will either get granular gravel, or pebble gravel. Most hardware stores have samples of both so you can see what you’re getting. The most common type for home landscaping is the pebble gravel, made up of small stones around 1cm in diameter.
The best thing about gravel is how uncomplicated it is. Just place it down, give it the occasional rake, and it will last you years. The only difficult aspect is transporting it – and so many places offer delivery that there’s really no need to do any of the hard work (or yard work) yourself.
So make yourself a budget, measure the space you’re looking to fill, and place your order. After all, you can always buy more. And, worst case scenario: it’s easy to collect up and remove if you don’t like it. And before you know it, you’ll have a classy-looking flower bed, path, or driveway without breaking the bank.