How to Level a Gravel Path
A gravel path in the garden makes exploring the greenery into a lovely little walk. Over time, however, the gravel will become worn in places, or plants might poke through. When that happens, it’s time to level out the gravel path, so it remains a pleasant experience for the feet. It’s not a complicated job, by any means.
Step 1 - Makeup of a Gravel Path
A gravel path should ideally consist of a layer of fine gravel (this is what you walk on). Under it should be weed fabric, to prevent any weeds growing through, which sits on top of a deep layer of coarser gravel or sand that’s been tamped down so it’s solid. Making a gravel path by simply putting a layer of gravel on top of grass isn’t going to work.
Step 2 - First Steps
Begin by raking away the layer of fine gravel from the gravel path. Keep raking until you reach either the weed fabric or the layer of heavier gravel. Keep the fine gravel off to one side of the path, so you can work easily. Where there are humps, remove some dirt with a shovel. Dips should be raked clear and filled with dirt.
With a tamping tool (which is essentially a metal plate on a stick), tamp down the heavier gravel. If you don’t own a tamping tool, make one with a square of 5/8 inch plywood that's attached to the end a length of 2x4 lumber. Tamp down hard, to give a solid base.
Step 3 - Weed Fabric
If there’s no weed fabric on your gravel paths, you should lay some down. Cut to the width of the path and lay it on top of the heavier gravel before tamping lightly into place. This will save you the work of pulling weeds later.
Step 4 - Edging
If there’s no edging on your gravel path, buy some. Most edging can simply be hammered into place, and plastic edging can follow the curves of any gravel path, to prevent the gravel spilling out. You need to install it so the edging will be about ½ inch higher than the final level of the gravel paths.
Step 5 - Gravel
Rake the fine gravel back onto the path, removing any debris and add more fine gravel as needed, to the point where the gravel is about 1 inch below the top of the edging, and then rake level. Water the path with your hose and once the water has drained through the gravel, use the tamp to push the fine gravel down.
Step 6 - Crushed Stone
Use very finely crushed stone as the top layer on the gravel path, adding enough so that it comes to about ½ inch below the level of the edging.
To complete the process and level out the gravel path, cut a piece of 2x4 lumber so it’s as wide as the path. Pull it along the path to level it out, using it like a screed.