Experienced gardening enthusiasts decide to create a gravel bed for a variety of reasons. For example, if part of the garden is permanently exposed to direct sunlight during the summer, conventional plants will only flourish sparsely or not at all, especially if the soil is dense, loamy and sandy. If there is not much time available for maintaining a garden, a gravel bed is the ideal solution, because the plants that thrive here hardly need any attention. If you are not completely convinced to create a gravel bed or an entire gravel garden, you will immediately start planning when you find out that weeds are practically without a chance here.

Create a plan

It is worth investing a little time in planning and preparing a gravel bed. Once it has been laid out, the hobby gardener not only saves a lot of time in maintenance, but also money, because after the first year there is hardly any need for watering. Since the design of a gravel bed allows gardening enthusiasts a lot of freedom to realize their own ideas, pencil and paper are sufficient to sketch the possible variants, to compare them with one another and, if necessary, to combine them in order to arrive at a decision. Should the gravel bed convey a Mediterranean ambience, exude the magic of a Japanese garden or offer a modern, geometric look? If it is a larger area, small bumps provide loosening up. Maybe even a small pond or stream is possible? Then the available area is measured in order to determine the material requirements. You will need:

  • shovel
  • Weed control or pond liner
  • coarse gravel 16/32 for the potting mix
  • Ornamental gravel or gravel for the visible part
  • plant
  • sharp knife

The advantages and disadvantages of rounded ornamental gravel and ornamental gravel with the sharper edges are convincing, but do not make the agony of choice easier. If the price aspect is in the foreground, decorative grit should be used over the entire area. Decorative gravel with its harmoniously rounded shape looks more appealing, but has the disadvantage that it quickly becomes slippery, especially after a downpour. As is so often the case, the happy medium should lead to the decision. On the parts of the gravel bed that serve as a path, the more non-slip decorative gravel is distributed and the areas that are rarely or never used are covered with decorative gravel. This variant also enables color contrasts in the bed if the materials are chosen in different colors. The grain size should not be too small so that the sub-floor can still breathe. Experts recommend a grain size of 8/16 to 16/32 for ornamental chippings and 16/25 to 25/40 for ornamental gravel. For orientation purposes, the following quantities are required for 100 m²: Decorative chippings 8/16 with a minimum height of 5 cm: 7,500 kg; Ornamental gravel 16/25 with a minimum height of 8 cm: 12,000 kg. When calculating the costs, the freight costs must not be overlooked, which can be considerable with this heavy load. For this reason, it is advisable to choose a supplier from the local area. Decorative chippings 8/16 with a minimum height of 5 cm: 7,500 kg; Ornamental gravel 16/25 with a minimum height of 8 cm: 12,000 kg. When calculating the costs, the freight costs must not be overlooked, which can be considerable with this heavy load. For this reason, it is advisable to choose a supplier from the local area. Decorative chippings 8/16 with a minimum height of 5 cm: 7,500 kg; Ornamental gravel 16/25 with a minimum height of 8 cm: 12,000 kg. When calculating the costs, the freight costs must not be overlooked, which can be considerable with this heavy load. For this reason, it is advisable to choose a supplier from the local area.

Nice ornamental gravel varieties

Mother nature has more to offer than just white or gray gravel. There is a wealth of different types and colors to choose from, some of which are presented below:

  • Alpine green from marble stone
  • Alpendolomite yellow
  • Basalt brightly polished
  • Basalt extra black
  • Bordeaux pebbles beige in color
  • Carrara marble in gleaming white
  • Champagne pebbles
  • Glacier gravel mixed up
  • Crystal blue round grain
  • Natural granite speckled light gray
  • Natural granite red
  • Quartz edelweiss
  • Quartz reddish brown
  • Quartz veined black and white
  • Quartz deep black
  • Bordeaux-red marble with white veins
  • Rosenquarz

All of these types are natural stones that have either already been mined in a rounded shape or can be rounded later using a special process.

Creating a gravel bed – step-by-step instructions

Once the plan has been drawn up and all the materials are ready, work can begin:

  1. The area intended for the gravel bed is excavated 25 cm to 30 cm deep with the shovel. If there are still roots in the sole, they will be completely removed.
  2. Half of the topsoil is mixed with the gravel. If the soil quality is naturally structured in a sandy-gravelly manner at this point, there is no need to add the ballast. In this case, weeds and roots are removed from the bed area and deeply dug up.
  3. The weed or geological fleece is spread over the area. If it consists of several parts, these are laid in such a way that they overlap each other by at least 10 cm.
  4. With the knife, the fleece is cut in a cross shape at the places where plants are set, the plants are planted and abundantly watered.
  5. The decorative gravel is spread over the fleece at a height of at least 8 cm and the decorative gravel at a height of at least 5 cm.

If the creative gardening enthusiast has planned that a curved or straight path leads through the gravel bed, which is covered with small-grained or different colored ornamental gravel, this is laid out first. Only then is the ornamental gravel distributed for the actual bedding area. Larger boulders in between provide additional loosening of the look.

Plant the gravel bed

A classic gravel bed differs significantly from a conventional ornamental garden bed not only in terms of its texture, but also in terms of the planting. The following plants are particularly suitable for a varied planting in a full sun, dry gravel bed:

Subshrubs and perennials

  • However Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
  • Ground cover roses of all kinds
  • Shrub roses of various varieties
  • Elfenbeinginster – Cytissus x praecox
  • Palmlilie – Yucca filamentosa
  • Dwarf spar of different varieties
  • Schmetterlingsstrauch – Buddleia davidii
  • Kirschlorbeer – Prunus laurocerasus


  • Lampenputzergras – Pennisetum alopecuroides
  • Pampasgras – Cortaderia selloana
  • Heron feather-grass – Stipa pulcherrima
  • Lesser quaking grass – Briza minor
  • Blue pipegrass – Molinia caerulea
  • Chinaschilf – Miscanthus sinensis
  • Blue fescue and sheep fescue
  • Reitgras – Calamagrostis varia
  • Bearskin fescue – Festuca gautieri

Flowering perennials

  • Purple globular leek allium ‘Purple Sensation’
  • White highland aster – aster ptarmicoides
  • Violettfarbenes Eisenkraut – Verbena bonariensis
  • Blauraute – Perovskia
  • Yellow Junker Lily – Asphodeline lutea
  • White blooming mullein – Verbascum
  • Light yellow girl’s eye – Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’
  • Spiked splendor – Liatris spicata
  • Rich blue alpine gentian – Gentiana alpina
  • Purple alpine toadflax – Linaria alpina
  • Pechnelke – Lychnis alpina with pink flowers
  • Bright yellow Alpine primal – Primula auricula

Even if only a small area of ​​4 m² is available, a wonderful gravel bed can be conjured up with the following plant collection:

  • Schafgarbe – Achillea fillipendulina
  • Fetthenne – Sedum x telephium
  • Bergenia – Bergenia cordifolia white
  • Steinquendel – Calamintha nepeta
  • Wolfsmilch – Euphorbia seguieriana ssp. nicciciana
  • Taglilie – Hemerocallis
  • Fackellilien – Kniphofia uvaria
  • Perovskien – Perovskia superba
  • Brandkraut – Phlomis russeliana
  • Speedwell – Veronica teucrium
  • Palmlilie – Yucca Filaments
  • Bart-Iris – Iris barbata
  • Catnip – Nepeta faassenii

Typical plants for a Japanese or Zen garden are:

  • Japanese Red-leaved Carnation Cherry – Prunus serrulata Royal Burgundy
  • Japanese maple variegated leaf – Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’
  • Japanese columnar cherry – Prunus serrulata Amanogawa
  • Japanese blood sycamore maple – Acer palmatum atropurpureum
  • Seven Sons of Heaven Shrub – Heptacodium miconioides
  • White Japan Anemone – Anemone japonica Honorine Jobert
  • Perlkörbchen – Anaphalis triplinervis
  • Sacred bamboo – Nandina domestica
  • Zwergflieder – Syringa meyeri ‚Palibin‘
  • Feinhalm Chinaschilf – Miscanthus sinensis ‚Gracillimus‘
  • Tellerhortensie – Hydrangea serrata ‚Bluebird‘
  • Lorbeer Schneeball – Viburnum tinus
  • Fächerblattbaum – Ginkgo biloba ‚Mariken‘
  • Bärenfellgras – Festuca gautieri
  • Japanischer Blumenhartriegel – Cornus kousa
  • Japanische Schirmtanne – Sciadopitys verticillata
  • Magnolie als Hochstamm – Magnolia liliiflora ‚Susan‘

In einem Japangarten dürfen natürlich auch Gestaltungselemente nicht fehlen, wie Steinlaternen, Findlinge, kleine Pagoden aus weißem Stein und steinerne Brücken. Ist kein echtes Wasser vorhanden, kann der Zierkies den Wasserlauf repräsentieren, über dem sich die Steinbrücke spannt und aus dem die großen Findlinge herausschauen. Als Sitzplatz wird eine kleine Bank aus Stein integriert. In einem typischen Kiesbeet im japanischen Stil werden zudem nur vereinzelt Pflanzen platziert, denn hier gilt das Motto ‚Weniger ist mehr‘. Dabei herrschen kleine Bäume, Gräser, winterharte Bonsais, Bambus und grüne Polsterpflanzen vor. Blühende Stauden erscheinen nur sporadisch. Geometrisch, eckige Formen haben in einem Japangarten nichts verloren. Das gilt auch für die Wege, die möglichst einen geschwungenen Verlauf aufweisen.

Feuchtes Kiesbeet bepflanzen

Ein Kiesbeet muss nicht zwangsläufig an einem vollsonnigen, sandigen, trockenen Standort angelegt werden. Es spricht nichts dagegen, eine Fläche, die einem Wechselspiel von trocken und feucht unterliegt, als Kiesbeet zu gestalten. Verläuft beispielsweise ein Bachlauf durch das Beet oder sprudelt in der Mitte Wasser aus einem Quellstein, können an diesen Stellen auch Pflanzen im Kiesbeet angesiedelt werden, die eine humose, leicht feuchte Umgebung bevorzugen. Im feuchten, halbschattigen Teil des Beetes wird auf die Beimischung von Schotter unter den Mutterboden verzichtet. Es ist auch möglich, dort den Aushub mit herkömmlicher Blumenerde aufzufüllen, solange sicher ist, dass dort keine Staunässe entstehen kann. Ein leichtes Gefälle beim Aushub, das später durch die Kiesschicht wieder ausgeglichen wird, beugt der Bildung von Staunässe sicher vor. Die folgenden Pflanzen eignen sich für diesen leicht feuchten Teil des Kiesbeetes besonders gut:

  • Schachbrettblume – Fritillaria maleagris
  • Sibirische Iris – Iris sibirica
  • Sumpfschwertlilie – Iris pesudacorus
  • Pfennigkraut – Lysimachia nummularia
  • Kriechender Günsel – Ajuga reptans
  • Dreimasterblume – Tradescantia spec.
  • Taglilie – Hemerocallis citrina
  • Jakobsleiter – Polemonium caeruleum
  • Scharfer Hahnenfuß (giftig) – Ranunculus atris Multiplex
  • Blutweiderich – Lythrum salic.

Diese Pflanzen eignen sich zudem als Randbepflanzung, falls ein kleiner Teich in das Kiesbeet integriert wird.

Spannende Variante des Kiesbeetes – das Alpinum

A little more complex to lay out, but an interesting variation of the gravel bed is created when the alpine mountain world is imitated. Gardens in a sunny location with a slope are ideally suited for an Alpinum. In this case, too, a topsoil-gravel mixture is required, which, however, is heaped up to form a mound. In combination with the slope of the terrain, this creates a drainage system that allows rain and irrigation water to run off. The weed fleece is spread over this mound and the appropriate plants are inserted into the holes created by the cross cut. The surface now consists of a mixture of larger boulders and ornamental gravel or ornamental chippings. Typical plants for an Alpinum are:

  • Edelweiß – Leontopodium
  • Mannsschild – Androsace
  • Enzian – Gentiana
  • Alpine Bellflower – Campanula alpina
  • Heart-leaved globular flower – Globularia cordifolia
  • Rock plate types – Ramonda
  • Steinbrech – Saxifraga
  • Houseworm species – Sempervivum
  • Snow heather – Erica carnea
  • Latschenkiefern – Pinus mugo subsp. mugo

As is usual in the mountains, the stones dominate the appearance of an Alpinum and the plants take a back seat. But this fascinating modification of the gravel bed is sure to cause a sensation.

A gravel bed solves many a horticultural problem. It decorates sun-drenched, sandy and dry areas of the garden and saves a lot of time in maintenance. Planting, designing and planting is not difficult if a precise plan is worked out in advance. There are hardly any limits to the garden lover’s imagination, because there are plenty of design options from romantic, Mediterranean to modern, geometric to Japanese, and accurate. It may surprise beginners when it comes to gravel beds, but the selection of plants that thrive in a full sun, dry place is surprisingly long. Those who dare to dare to approach an Alpinum, which, if successfully cultivated, will undoubtedly cause a stir among hobby gardeners.

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