There are different types of gravel used in landscaping. The scarcer the commodity is, like anything else, the more it costs. It is, therefore, a good idea to take some time to check the different types and their costs so you will stay within your budget.
We will discuss the different kinds of gravel; each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and then we’ll show you how to calculate the cost.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to laying down landscape gravel. Landscape gravel comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on your need. Landscape gravel is usually crushed rock or pea gravel, lava rock, river rock, and quartz. Although there are others, they are often a variation of these four.
Unlike some mulch, you don’t need to do any annual replacement, and any of these stones could be used as a mulch replacement or on top of plastic or landscape fabric.
Gravel can prevent the growth of weeds and other unwanted vegetation. Therefore, it makes an attractive desert garden. It is also aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Gravel is incredibly low maintenance and looks natural when used correctly around your home, as it has a long “shelf life.” It becomes a fixed decoration because removal is labor-intensive and costly.
Types of Landscaping Gravel
Pebbles or Pea Gravel
Some contractors or landscaping services call pebbles pea gravel. It is the same thing. Some may be polished, and others unpolished gravel or pebbles in a mixed bag because they use whatever is available.
Pebbles are usually the smallest gravel stones; typically around 1/2” in diameter. These are great for landscaping areas where gravel looks natural, such as around ponds, a gravel pathway or driveway, a fire pit, or as a non-degrading mulch to separate grass from scrubs.
This common landscaping gravel costs about $30-$35 per cubic yard or $40-45 per ton, and $2-5 per bag.
This reddish-brown color landscaping stone is usually about two inches in diameter. These colorful stones make a wonderful contrast to the mostly green colors of a garden, or as an edge for a fire pit, as it can look remarkably natural. It’s also lighter in weight compared to the other types of gravel.
Lava rock is about $75-$100 per cubic yard, $75-80 per ton, and $8-10 per bag.
River rock is usually very smooth because of the many years spent on the bottom of a river. It’s usually around two inches in diameter and nicely polished, so it is a natural for drainage purposes around water features.
The prices of river rock vary greatly depending on the area, season, and availability, so call around to get the best price. Expect to pay between $100-500 per cubic yard, $100-700 per ton, and $10-15 per bag.
Cubed quartz is an excellent decoration due to its white and mostly non-blemished color. When used as an edging mulch next to blacktop or a dark sidewalk, it can be quite impressive.
The price of quartz depends on the market, availability, and the proximity of a quartz quarry. Expect similar prices to river rock: $100-500 per cubic yard, $100-700 per ton, and $10-15 per bag.
Estimating How Much Gravel Needed
Gravel generally gets sold by the cubic yard but can be bought by the ton for large jobs and by the bag for small projects. The cost of materials will mostly depend on how much you need for a project.
The amount of material needed is determined by the area and the depth of coverage. The volume formula is length x width x depth. It is imperative to keep all measurement units the same, with the ideal depth for landscaping gravel is three inches. Therefore, you should convert your area measurements to inches as well.
Labor Costs for Gravel Landscaping
Of course, the price of your landscaping gravel will depend on the going market rate and the company you use, but these are some of the necessary expenses for gravel landscaping material. Some landscapers will give you a flat rate for the entire project, while others will break it out for you into material and labor. Still, others might insist you get the materials delivered and they provide labor.
Landscapers generally charge $50-75 an hour for leveling, other ground prep, and installation. You can expect two hours to install a ton of gravel, or about $100-150 labor cost, though labor prices vary widely depending on your area. Expect to pay another $300 for delivery, the heavy equipment rented, or the landscaper may provide it by the hour.
The best insurance against overpaying is to get two or three independent estimates, which normally get provided free.
All pricing information on this page is based on average industry costs, and is subject to variance for project-specific materials, labor rates, and requirements.