If you’re considering making changes to your landscape with decorative rocks you’ve likely considered using pea gravel or river rocks.
Both pea gravel and river rocks are extremely popular materials for serving decorative and functional purposes throughout home and commercial properties.
We’ve found that many people are confused about the difference between the two of them. The debate of pea gravel vs. river rocks has been going on for quite some time and we want you to know that each offers unique benefits and features to your landscape.
This guide will break down what each material has to offer and what you should consider before making a final decision.
Comparing Pea Gravel and River Rocks
Pea Gravel: Uses, Benefits and Things to Consider
The Most Popular Uses of Pea Gravel
One of the more common uses for pea gravel is in the installation of front walkways and garden paths. You might also choose to use pea gravel as a surfacing material for a stunning and unique loose stone driveway or patio.
Many people choose to use the stones in and around children’s play areas, as they are shock absorbent and recreationally safe. Pea gravel can even be used in lieu of sand in sandboxes, or as an alternative to traditional organic mulch.
Benefits of Pea Gravel
Pea gravel is such a popular choice in landscaping largely due to the fact that the stone is quite uniform in size, smooth in texture and features a variety of beautiful colors. In fact, many people don’t realize that pea gravel is actually river rock. It is just a smaller, smoother version of river rock.
Pea gravel is widely available throughout the northeast, which makes it one of the most affordable of all decorative stones. In addition to looking great and being budget-friendly, pea gravel is highly versatile and functional.
In terms of pea gravel vs. river rocks, pea gravel is simply better known for its smaller size and ability to be compacted.
Pea gravel is also capable of deterring the growth of weeds in and around garden beds and planters, is heavy enough that it won’t blow away in high winds or when subject to a leaf blower, requires very little maintenance and is soft and comfortable enough to walk on.
Things to Consider Before Buying Pea Gravel
As pea gravel is relatively lightweight, the stones have a tendency to be scattered when subject to heavy foot traffic. As a result, paths, walkways, patios, and other surfaces should be raked regularly to maintain an even surface. An edging material can help to keep stones in place.
River Rocks: Uses, Benefits and Things to Consider
The Most Popular Uses of River Rocks
River rocks are extremely popular due to the beauty it can bring to a landscape. It can create a very naturalistic look to areas around swimming pools and water features, making them popular as an edging material or as a replacement for sand on beaches.
Small sized river rocks (larger than pea gravel) are another top pick for the creation of paths and walkways, whereas larger river rocks can be purposed as an edging material, or to prevent soil erosion on sloped lawns.
One of the most common uses for river rocks is in the installation of dry river beds. Many people create dry river beds to improve a landscapes appearance and to divert water away from the property.
Benefits of River Rocks
One of the key advantages to river rocks is that they are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 3/8″ all the way up to 5″+. This allows you to play around with the various stones to meet a variety of needs throughout the landscape.
When building a front walkway, for example, you can maintain a sense of uniformity by utilizing 3/8″ or 3/4″ stones (pea gravel) as the surfacing material, with larger 3″ or 5″ rocks as the edging material. Because they tend to be heavier than other stones like pea gravel, it’s often more difficult to displace the river rocks, even when they are subject to high levels of traffic.
Things to Consider Before Buying River Rocks
The main thing to keep in mind when landscaping with river rock is that it can be more expensive than pea gravel. In cases where your landscaping project entails a very large coverage area, river rocks may not be the most practical solution.
Buying Pea Gravel and River Rocks
After taking a closer look at the benefits and considerations involved with pea gravel vs. river rocks, you should have a better idea with regard to which material is best for your specific project.
While both offer numerous advantages to areas throughout the landscape, it’s a combination of the nature and requirements of your undertaking and your personal preferences that will make the final determination.
In fact, both of these materials are classified as river rocks, which means you’re staying within the family regardless of which stone you choose.
When looking to purchase materials for your project we recommend speaking with your local decorative stone supplier. They’ll be able to discuss the details of your project with you, make recommendations and provide you with a competitive price on everything you need.