Relatively inexpensive and beautifully functional, gravel is a popular component of many modern outdoor spaces. Here are some creative ways you can incorporate this versatile material into your landscaping design scheme.

Create a Compelling Contrast

Hard, smooth surfaces tend to dominate in contemporary exterior design schemes. You can offset this drab look by introducing contrasting materials in a harmonious color palette to add texture and maximize interest.

A bed of white gravel can add distinctive detail to a bold architectural scheme that includes walkable swaths of smooth concrete surfaces. Decorative cream and bright white pebbles come in a broad range of sizes. You can choose gritty or high-gloss stones that pair perfectly with a diverse range of existing patio materials. 

Small gravel beds bring a nice textural contrast to help break up wooden decks and smooth pavers in patio areas. You can soften the effect by adding bold leaf plants that arch over the gravel. Even a large bowl of pebbles can add some much-needed texture to your exterior space when you don’t seem to have enough room for pebble beds. 


Frame Water Features

Gravel is an incredibly versatile landscaping material that fits harmoniously around water features. Pebbles contrast beautifully with ponds or vertical cascades by bringing an oasis feel to your landscape. 

The effect works best when you create pockets that seem like little islands, complete with plantings that have a Mediterranean feel. Spiky phormium, for instance, can be planted directly within the gravel, where it can bring a striking yet natural balance to an otherwise hard or even sterile-looking modern exterior. 

When using gravel to frame water features, it’s generally best to choose a medium-sized grade. When they’re relatively small, the bits of rock will spread around easily as you walk over them. If they are too large, however, walking can be difficult or even painful. When designing your exterior landscape, it’s always best to consider as many senses as possible instead of focusing entirely on appearance. 


Add a Japanese Zen Garden

Commonly found at monasteries or temples, Japanese zen gardens create miniature stylized exterior landscapes. Many times, they are carefully composed arrangements of water features, bushes, pruned trees, moss and rocks. But gravel is the main component in these gorgeous arrangements because it helps mimic the appearance of rippling water. 

While they can be a functional device for meditation, Japanese zen gardens are often used in the US as decorative additions to contemporary landscapes. The idea is to use the gravel in a serene, calming and ordered manner. 

Since Japanese gardens are meant to be places of deep contemplation, it’s a great opportunity to add a minimalist but compelling element to your exterior. Space should be connected and organized, whether it’s by the thoughtful placement of smooth stones or a carefully positioned vertical tree. The hard landscaping materials should include stepping stones constructed to make circular paths interspersed with lovely pockets of raked gravel that resemble rippling waves.


Create Gravel Paths

One great way to incorporate gravel in your landscape is to create inviting paths edged with gorgeous ornamental grasses. You can also add soft pillows of perennials throughout to create a contrasting naturalistic effect. A wide array of colors and contrasts are available, making it easy to select a harmonious palette of hues that add warmth and intrigue to your exterior space. 

This is a great way to add visual impact all year long, regardless of the weather, since flowers can bloom in the warmer months and leave sculptural seed heads during the autumn and fall. Pennisetum (fountain grass) is one great option that leaves golden-pink flower spikes and lovely foliage throughout the colder months of the year. 

For a beautiful landscape in Colorado’s trying climate, it’s important to get help from an accomplished Denver landscaping company like RMPS Landscaping. For decades, our skilled experts have provided a diverse array of landscaping services, from plants and sod to hardscaping, trees, stonework and full-scale renovations. Our skilled experts will collaborate with you to learn your preferences and develop a strategy that meets your needs. Contact our knowledgeable experts to find out how we can help bring your boldest vision into the real world.

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