For being a nursery that specializes in clematis, hydrangeas, fuchsias, and perennials, we sure talk a lot about gravel. We use it in our pathways, use it to amend our planting beds, and use it as mulch. But what we get asked about most is how we use it on our lawn. When we last treated the lawn at the nursery I did a five month pictorial to show people how this works.
It is best to do this treatment during the rainy seasons. So usually October through April are your best times for gravel application If you will be doing compost and overseeding, October, March and April and sometimes May, are the best times. If the existing lawn is very sparse or has existing bare spots compost and overseeding is reccomended.
First mow your lawn short and aerate if you want.
Here is the lawn on January 11, one week after the gravel had been applied. About 3/4 of an inch of quarter ten gravel was spread over the top of the existing lawn. The type of gravel is important. 1/4 10 is crushed basalt that has been washed. Having gravel that is crushed, not round, allows it to travel better through the soil and help improve drainage. You want the washed variety because you do not want to be adding sand to clay soil. We added extra gravel to fill in a low area that is on the far left of the picture.
Due to a warm February, some of the grass has started to grow by March 4, but there are still gravel patches. We apply the gravel for two main reasons. First, it helps with winter drainage so that the lawn does not get mushy and mossy with all of our rain. Second, by breaking up the soil underneath the lawn it lets the grasse’s roots travel deeper whcih in turn allows you to water less in the summer.
This is a high traffic lawn and certain areas needed extra care. We top dressed them with some organic compost and re-seeded the bare spots.
By April 29 it was staring to look like a normal lawn again. At no time was this lawn blocked off, and since it is in the middle of one of the main garden paths, it was being walked on daily by a number of people
On May 15 it is hard to tell if the gravel has even been applied. This lawn takes a beating all summer, thousands of people walk across it, and is watered deeply maybe once every two weeks and still manages to stay green.