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Chippings, pebbles and all things Japanese

Gardens can look magical, but doesn’t your heart sink when you look at an uninvited tangle of garden growth demanding to be weeded, tidied and pruned? Now might be the time to take a leaf out of a traditional Japanese garden design book and create your own harmonious zen space that’s low maintenance, simple and very contemporary.

Decorative aggregates (chippings to you and me) come in a fabulous range of colours and textures. Check out light-reflecting Spanish White chippings or Marshalls Multi Flint Spar Chippings with the glint of quartz mixed in. A softer, warmer look can be created by creamy chippings made from Cotswold stone or a seaside beach feel with aggregates quarried from what were ancient sea beds. Slate chippings come in blue and plum colours; you can even get cinder black for a dramatic backdrop to stunning silver granite like Fairstone Granite Eclipse Garden Paving.

Our tip: don’t skimp on the permeable liner - the secret to low maintenance gardening - get a decent roll of it so you can err on the generous side, and avoid any chinks or gaps where weeds can take hold. Geotextile membranes come in standard and professional grades. We recommend going for the extra thickness as it’s longer lasting. These fabrics still allow water and nutrients to pass through and are resistant to rot and mould. Any extra you can always use to line a planter or use as weed suppressant under decking or in a planting bed under bark chippings.

Cobbles for paths of texture and colour

Beautiful and distinctive garden paths can be laid easily and without a huge amount of landscaping skill by setting wood-look sleepers in a stream bed of cobbles and pebbles.  Marshalls Woodstone Sleepers work brilliantly  in this way. It’s a very appealing tamed natural look made famous by those amazing Japanese temple gardens. Paths like this can wind and flow from one part of the garden to another and can be softened even more by some planting through the permeable membrane.


Pebbles come in different sizes (50mm – 150mm - that’s from golf ball and apples to the size of grapefruits and melons if that helps you visualise). Landscaping a path with pebble and cobble surrounds is fun, easy and will create an immediate impact. Try using Long Rake Spar 20-40mm Rainbow Decorative Pebbles. These are  creamy, rounded, tumbled sandstone pebbles with stuning red/orange veining that gives a flash of colour when wet or after rain.


Pebbles, ponds, and boulders for wildlife friendly corners

Make sure your garden remains wildlife friendly as well as low maintenance? There’s nothing more insect life needs than water and shelter. Use rockery stone, boulders and a pond liner to create a haven for damselflies and pond skaters and shallow pools for garden birds, and bees to drink. According to BBC Naturewatch, even a washing up bowl full of pebbles and water makes a difference, so why not spend a little time and effort doing your bit for our wildlife?

In Japanese garden design, water represents the flow and change of our lives. Think they knew a thing or two about how gardens bring us calm and a sense of peace. Place a garden bench by a pond and you’ve a great recipe for well-being too!

Leaf blowers – the secret to stress-free maintenance

How do you get fallen leaves off your gorgeous dry landscaping? Having tried and tested several options, we strongly recommend investing in a leaf blower!

Smaller gardens don’t need the powerful petrol-driven leaf blowers you’ll see professional gardeners using in parks. A garden blower will let you put everything into one pile for picking up – simple. Garden vacs will suck it up for you and you can, of course, get blower/vac combos! For under £100 you can buy battery-powered cordless models (which obviously have a limited charge) or mains-operated options for bigger gardens.