How to Lay a Gravel Path

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Bow rake
  • Wheelbarrow
Materials Required
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Landscape fabric
  • Vinyl edging
  • Hose, rope or stakes and string

Before You Begin

The instructions steps are listed below. Don't want to do this job yourself? Find a landscape contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right, click Home Advisor, a free referral service that connects homeowners with local, prescreened contractors.

  • Step 1 : Lay out the path

    Lay out the path

    If the path is curved, use a rope or garden hose to help you visualize the path before digging begins. If it's a straight run, mark the beginning and end of the path with a couple of wood stakes, then stretch string between the stakes to outline the path.

  • Step 2 : Dig the foundation

    Dig the foundation

    About 6 inches of earth needs to be removed to provide a trench to hold 3 inches of sand and 3 inches of gravel. Use a shovel and spade to dig up any existing sod or plant material. Cut the sod into 1-foot wide by 3-foot long strips with the spade. Then push the blade of the spade under the sod to loosen it from the soil. Set these strips aside for later use. Remove the rest of the dirt. A wheelbarrow will help make this phase of the project easier. When the foundation for the path is dug, use a bow rake to break up the clumps of weed and soil and smooth it level.

  • Step 3 :Lay down landscape fabric

    Unroll landscape fabric as a base for the path which will help deter the growth of weeds and other plants. Lay it down smooth on the soil.

  • Step 4 :Install the edging

    Uncoil vinyl edging along both sides of the path. Cut it to fit when necessary. The edging helps hold the sand and gravel in place.

  • Step 5 :Lay the sand and gravel

    Pour out about a 3-inch layer of sand in the path smoothing it with the bow rake so it's level. Follow up with the gravel. Move the rake back and forth so gravel reaches all areas of the path. Follow this procedure working both lengthwise along the path and across its width until the gravel surface is level.