Those looking to create more outdoor living space in their backyard on a budget frequently turn to pea gravel. And for good reason! Unlike other hardscaping material, pea gravel is versatile while remaining inexpensive. It can be changed at whim, doesn’t crack or heave like concrete, and is easy to install. However, once your DIY pea gravel patio or pea gravel sitting area is in place, arranging patio furniture on pea gravel can quickly become your next challenge.
Pea gravel patios are often beautiful and beloved for their permeability and versatility. As stated, poured pea gravel will not crack, shift, or need serious repair. If some gravel is lost from your patio, you can simply pour more. However, this same quality can make furnishing your new patio difficult.
Sinking, unevenness, and sliding can all be problems that plague patio furniture placed on pea gravel. But don’t despair. There are a variety of things you can do to ensure you enjoy your new patio and your furniture, without any sinking or sliding. Here are our favorite hacks.
Level The Surface
If the problem with maintaining patio furniture on pea gravel is the unevenness and sinking nature of the surface, then the smartest thing to do is eliminate the problem at the source. This means removing the pea gravel where it is causing issues–at the base of your furniture. In this approach, selectively installing hardscaping materials such as pavers or wood can fix sinking and scratching.
Simply place a paver, stone or concrete slab, or piece of wood on the patio beneath the leg of a table or chair. Once placed, surround the leg of the furniture with gravel to conceal. This approach works best with stationary furniture such as tables. The movement inherent in items such as chairs makes isolating the base of those pieces much more difficult. In this case, opting for stationary seating such as benches or lounge chairs can help.
If you don’t want to bother installing a few pavers, you aren’t completely out of luck. While you may never achieve a completely undisrupted or level surface, you can still create a functional space. In the pursuit of stability, surface area matters. We’ll explain–
The skinnier the base of an object is, the more prone it becomes to sinking. Furniture and gravel are no exception. Imagine, for a moment, walking in high heels. If you’ve ever worn stilettos and attempted to navigate grass or gravel, you have a pretty good idea of how this phenomenon works.The small surface area of the heel allows for little stability on soft or uneven ground, and will spear and sink quickly into the dirt or grass. On the other hand, shoes with block heels, wedges, or tennis shoes all allow you to traverse with ease.
This same principle can be applied to placing patio furniture on gravel. Shy away from chairs or tables that come to a point at the foot. Instead, opt for selections with a wider footprint. Seating options such as benches, lounge chairs, and even picnic tables offer more surface area at the base. This decreases the amount they will sink in gravel, and improves their overall stability.
Choose Patio Furniture Carefully
The most important part of furnishing a gravel patio is selecting the right pieces. This means paying attention to more than just the look of your furniture. While some items may look beautiful, they could be impractical or even become damaged once installed in your backyard.
Furniture will be consistently perched and pulled through small stones with use. For this reason, durability is critical. A large part of this durability lies in the material of the patio furniture. Selecting the right material will help your tables, chairs, and any other furniture have longevity in your space.
While options like metal and even wood may seem incredibly durable, they both may be vulnerable to scraping and gauging caused by small rock fragments. Over time, this friction can cause enough damage to significantly change the appearance of your furniture around its base. Additionally, the more metal is scraped, the more likely it becomes that rust or other corrosion will occur. The more wood that is damaged, the more prone rot becomes. This can be avoided in two ways.
Plastic or Composite
An easy way to guard against rot and corrosion is to choose a material that experiences neither. While plastic may not be everyone’s first choice for classy outdoor furniture, it definitely solves a number of problems. Plastic may still be scratched by gravel pieces, but this small scale damage is unlikely to grow.
The scrapes and fissures created in plastic will not lead to rot or rust, and will remain purely an aesthetic matter. Thankfully, it is no longer too difficult to find a plastic based piece of furniture that doesn’t look cheap in your space. From local garden centers, to online retailers, a beautiful set of plastic or composite patio furniture is within reach.
If you are investing in a metal piece for your gravel patio, make sure it comes with a protective coating. Tables and chairs advertising excellent weather resistance may already be sealed well with a shell that can protect against additional damage from gravel.
Guard The Base
Most wear and tear caused by pea gravel patios will occur at the base of the furniture. This can be prevented by making an effort to guard the base of your pieces. Homeowners may purchase plastic feet that slide onto tables and chairs like booties. There are also DIY approaches to this same protective method.
Employed by some parks or schools looking to prevent scuff marks, slicing open tennis balls and sliding over the feet of your furniture can work wonders for reducing impact. Of course, this isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing option. Sometimes, however, functionality must take priority.
Minimize Impact To Increase Functionality
Overall, pea gravel patios are a less expensive way to increase your outdoor living spaces. However, furnishing them can become challenging. Sliding, sinking, and wear and tear are all issues caused by arranging patio furniture on gravel.
To avoid more significant issues such as rot and rust, try to minimize friction. Guard your pieces with plastic or protective coating, and increase the resting surface area through targeted pavers or tables and chairs with broader feet. You may never be able to achieve perfect stability placing patio furniture on pea gravel surface, but you can almost always create a beautiful space that will remain functional for years to come.