Benefits of Drain Rock for Landscaping

Manicured lawn and gravel mulch with evergreen plants.

One of the key components of a beautiful landscape design is proper drainage. You may not see most drain rock, but it is an important underlying material for many landscaping projects. From paved patios to French drains, drainage rock is needed to manage water and erosion. Let’s take a look at what is drainage rock and the benefits of using this versatile material in your landscaping.

What Is Drainage Rock?

Drain rock is not a particular type of rock but instead, it refers to its purpose. Drainage rock can be a collection of various rocks that allows water to filter down through it. There are different sizes of drain rock, from small pebbles up to 1-2 inches in diameter. You will find this material at quarries, landscape suppliers, garden centers and gravel suppliers, usually starting at 3/8” and up. The rocks may be round or jagged – pea gravel may be tiny, smooth pebbles or you could find jagged crushed granite in 1½” size.

Drain rock is often used underground, but some may be displayed. When used on the surface, most people will prefer smooth stones that are attractive and match their landscape design. You can find multiple colors of drainage rock, from white marble to brown, reds, gray and black. The type of gravel or rock you will need depends on how you plan to use the drain rock and your preference for appearance. You can buy this type of rock and gravel in small bags at most home improvement centers, or you can buy in bulk at quarries and landscape supply stores.

Property Drainage

Drainage solutions for homes and property often require drain rock. Whether it is a drainage system around the basement to prevent leaks to French drains and dry creek beds, a layer of porous rocks may be required. A few inches of gravel or rock is needed to allow water to filter down into the soil, providing a support for perforated piping or the base for a dry creek bed. Drainage rock allows the water to be more evenly distributed to prevent mud and soggy soil.

When used for drainage, most drain rock does not need to be pretty. You can use crushed rock, which is cheaper than buying decorative options. The size of rock you will need depends on the drainage solution you are creating – some may require multiple-sized layers, with large and smaller rocks used to provide adequate drainage.

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Stone Paving

If you are building a flagstone patio or walkway, you may need drain rock for your foundation. A layer of larger gravel allows for drainage and stability for your stone paving project. You may need compacted gravel to create the stable base that will allow the water to drain properly away from the surface. Some patios may use a French drain if there is excess water that needs to be removed from the area, which also requires the use of drainage rock.

Garden Mulch

Drainage rock can be used in your gardens as mulch to help with weed control and appearance. Pea gravel and decorative rocks are usually preferred for garden mulch for their appearance. Spreading a layer of rock around trees, bushes and landscaped areas can help minimize erosion and provide a clean appearance to your landscape design.

Gravel Driveways and Pathways

Gravel is a practical option for driveways and pathways. Drain rock can be used under the smaller gravel to provide the foundation and drainage for your driveways and pathways. Gravel is not only cost-effective, but also one of the easier options for DIY pathways and driveways. Due to the amount of gravel and rock needed, talk to a quarry that sells in bulk – many of these gravel suppliers can deliver your rock to your site.

Eco-Friendly Landscape Design

Drain rock can be used for aesthetics as well as function. Xeriscaping often uses plenty of rocks to cut down on water use. Borders for gardens can be created with rock-filled edging. Rock gardens can use multiple sizes of gravel and stones for its base, with boulders for focal points.
Gravel walkway leading to a patio in the garden.

Asphalt and Concrete

Pavement like asphalt and concrete also need drainage rock for their foundations. If you are installing a concrete patio or asphalt driveway, you will need gravel and rock to provide drainage under the paved areas. Drain rock both underneath and around the edges of asphalt and concrete areas helps absorb runoff to reduce erosion and saturation of the top soil.

Few landscape supplies have as many uses as drainage rock. If you wondered, “What is drainage rock and how is it used?” now you know. If you are planning a landscape project and need gravel or rock, visit your local landscape supplier or quarry for a wide selection of drain rock options.