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Gravels for easy garden makeovers

Use decorative aggregates to refresh your garden

There's a good reason why gravel, chippings, pebbles and cobbles (or what the trade calls decorative aggregates) have taken off big time in the last few years. Using them is a garden design no-brainer: they're low maintenance, super-easy to install, great for plants, as well as being vehicle and pet-friendly.

Inspiring choices: take a look

  • The decorative stone ranges from our UK aggregate supplier Long Rake Spar is very popular with our customers. There are quite simply loads to choose from - in all colours, textures and sizes. So don't just put up with what's in stock down your local DIY store or garden centre - take a look if you want to refresh your hard landscaping.
  • Slate paddle stones make a delightful surround for a rustic bench or informal path surface.
  • Here Blue Slate makes a fabulous contrast to the strong greens of hostas and ferns, and it also works brilliantly combined with Woodstone sleepers to add surface texture and strong design.
  • White limestone chippings make elegant paths for formal gardens, parterres and potagers - here they look amazing against the silvers of Stachys byzantina or Lamb's ear, and the deep purples of iris and salvia.
  • Cotswold chippings are a light honey in colour and their soft, warm tones make an effective mulch for dark foliage plants and ornamental grasses.
  • Huge Scottish boulders and pebbles combined with Derbyshire chippings create a bold structure and natural backdrop to swathes of rockery plants.
  • Green granite comes in impressive boulders and looks stunning by a water feature when its colours and surface textures are revealed.
  • Combining two aggregates of different sizes or colours side by side with edging stones for contrast and visual interest.
  • The vibrant colours of Flamingo really lift a dull area.
  • Gravel works very well for the setting of a sculpture, birdbath or little set of bistro chairs or loveseat.

How about a crevice rock garden rather than a rockery?

Crevice gardens are taking over from the rock gardens once so popular with Victorian gardeners.  Set large boulders or slabs into sand and infill gaps with John Innes No1 potting compost mixed with up 30 % grit. Plant up with easy-to-grow sedums, campanula, crocuses, penstemon, euphorbias, rhododendrons, aqualegia, primulas, thyme and cyclamens for all year-round display and colour.  The crevice garden lets plants develop a deep vertical root system, enabling them to survive summer's heat by preserving moisture.  The gaps between stones also form little protective microclimates to see them through the winter.

Create a mini-garden using a planter or trough

Miniature gardens are all the rage in the US where enthusiasts like the challenge of recreating their own garden in miniature in a trough or large planter.  Creating mini physical worlds is fun - go to your local flower show and you'll find a whole class of masterful miniature arrangements, complete with tiny ponds, trees, paths and rocks.  To make a mini-garden, fill a trough with compost, leaving a gap of 2cm for a gravel layer after planting.  Place larger stones or boulders for structure and height.  Plant between these, making sure you leave them raised enough to spread your decorative aggregate.  Using gravel in planters helps to keep in the moisture and stops heavy rain splashing compost over your beautifully placed plants. It'll keep weed growth down and stop any stem rot too.

The Turnbull team are happy to advise on their wide range of decorative aggregates, many of which can be delivered free in the UK. Visit www.turnbullsonline.co.uk.