A gravel border makes a fantastic informal space. Because there aren’t clear divides between the pathways and planting, it’s easy to get up close to what’s growing. This style of gardening is perfect for dry regions that receive little rainfall, as the plants used don’t need lots of moisture to thrive. It’s worth remembering that conditions for a dry garden aren’t just made by living in a dry area or having free-draining soil. The walls of your home, or a garden fence or wall, can produce a ‘rain shadow’ – a dry area where rain doesn’t fall.
Gravel gardens are suitable for any size of space and they work especially well in small areas, particularly if you’re thinking about replacing an area of lawn. You can even turn the whole of a small garden into a gravel garden. The gravel mulch around plants looks attractive and means you don’t need to plant them so tightly together. The overall look therefore has a looser feel, as you might find in nature.
Gravel also helps to make this kind of scheme quite low maintenance, as it’s harder for weeds to germinate beneath a thick layer of stones.
More on dealing with drought:
You Will Need
- Drought-tolerant plants
- Fork or spade
Lay out the plants on the prepared ground to see which planting combinations work best. Think about creating contrast between different leaf shapes and textures as well as flower colours and shapes. You also need to bear in mind how big the plants are going to grow. Don’t be afraid to bring some bigger plants to the front of your planting scheme, perhaps close to where you will walk.
Using a garden spade, or hand trowel, dig a good-sized hole that will be big enough for your plant. If you aren’t sure whether the hole is wide or deep enough, pop the plant into the hole to double-check. The right size hole should have enough space for you to backfill a good amount of soil around the roots.
When you’re happy with the hole, tap the plant out of its pot, tease the roots apart a little if needed and pop it into the ground. Make sure the top of the plant’s rootball sits level with the ground in your border.
Backfill the hole with your soil and gravel mixture, firming around the plant so that the soil is in contact with the roots, and water. It’s a good idea to wait for one flush of weeds to grow and pull them up, before top-dressing with 4-5cm gravel.