While crushed stone/gravel pads are most commonly used as foundations for sheds, there are quite a few other uses for these versatile landscape features. Gravel pads can support parking lots, outdoor buildings, pool equipment, hunting blinds, garden paths, hot tubs, horse barns, and tons more.
It’s important to note that “gravel” pads, as referred to in this article, are actually made with crushed stone. Real gravel, or “river stone,” is smooth and has round edges, meaning it cannot be compacted and is unsuitable for use as a foundation or weight-bearing pad.
It is recommended to check with your local building department to make sure a gravel pad you want to build meets local building requirements. Also, give your local utilities a call (811) before you begin any excavation and risk damage to your phone, cable, gas, water, and electricity lines because those are common hazards to digging on a property.
Benefits of a Gravel Pad
Gravel pad has many benefits to use on construction projects:
Practically, gravel pads are an economical way to build a foundation as they are much less expensive than concrete pads. In many cases, a gravel pad only costs about ⅓ as much as a concrete pad of the same dimensions.
Another major benefit of gravel pads is that they can be easily removed if the need arises. Compacted gravel pads provide a permeable, well-drained, level base for whatever is placed on top. All you need to remove a gravel pad is a shovel, a wheelbarrow, and determination.
Gravel pads drain quickly, meaning there’s no risk of water pooling on the top of the pad as there is with concrete. This makes them an excellent option for any use that requires wood to be in contact with the pad, such as the floor of a prefab shed. However, high moisture content can lead to the growth of mold and decay fungi.
7 Unique Gravel Pad Uses
1. Shed Foundation
Gravel shed foundations are one of the most economical and inexpensive types of shed bases in these times. It drains much quicker than a concrete pad. Also, it helps to protect the runners of the shed from rotting and decaying. There are companies (like us) that specialize in professional shed foundation installation. (If you want to DIY your gravel shed foundation, check out our guide on how to build a gravel shed foundation.)
2. Gazebo Foundation
Photo Credits: Hometown Structures
Gravel gazebo foundations keep your gazebo in great shape more than you expected. They can be installed on any property. Also, adding a new gazebo foundation to your yard is exciting, but it requires careful planning. There are the essential features, such as ground leveling, maintaining stability, and drainage systems you need to consider when building your own.
3. Gravel Parking Pad
Do you need parking for your vehicle or your business? Gravel pads can make an excellent option for a parking area, especially in rural zones or if you already have a gravel driveway.
Although asphalt and concrete parking lots are typical, they face specific issues that gravel parking lots do not. Affordability and impermeability are two of the significant problems that gravel parking areas eliminate. Grass parking and dirt driveways are other options, but they are generally not long-term parking solutions due to erosion and other concerns.
Gravel parking pads strike an outstanding balance in many regards as they are relatively inexpensive, stable, well-drained, and erosion-resistant.
4. Gravel Under Deck
Photo Credits: Plasticine House
When building a deck, what you place under the deck can be just as important as the materials you choose for the surface. Pouring a layer of gravel on the ground under the deck helps you maximize the performance of your new deck. It provides you to have these benefits:
Managing weeds – keeping the area under the deck uncovered can cause weeds and other plants to sprout out, eventually pushing up between the deck boards. A gravel pad helps keep weeds in check and prevents them from blowing out of place.
Posts – gravel pad can also be used to support your deck’s posts from wet. Compacted gravel around wood posts allows for easy drainage and keeps water away from the wood, which helps extend the deck’s life.
Storage space – Placing a gravel pad serves as an easy and affordable way to add usable space for storage or other activities if you have an elevated deck. It serves the same function as pavers or a concrete pad but is much easier to install.
5. Garden Gravel Paths
Photo Credits: This Old House
Garden gravel paths are an easy and straightforward way to add more to your garden. It is much cheaper to install than paving and better to blend into any setting. The best part, it doesn’t require expert installation; just anyone can build it. Having a garden gravel path will give you easy access to different parts of your garden by creating designated walking areas. It will prevent your plants from getting stepped on and give you an excellent way to stroll through and enjoy your garden.
6. Hot Tub Gravel Pad
A gravel base is excellent to provide affordable, regular water drainage around your outdoor hot tub. It is a popular foundation for people who have a hot tub because it is tested for draining water and handling the heavyweight of a hot tub. There is no standard desirable tub weight, but a two or three-person hot tub weighs almost 500 pounds empty and 3000 pounds with water.
Building an effective and high-quality gravel pad will require some work and time. It is not just pouring a layer of gravel onto your yard. It is essential to consider all these factors before building your own hot tub gravel base.
7. Horse Barn Gravel Pad
When it comes to building a gravel pad for your horse barn, it is a good idea to advise a site preparation professional. Horse barn gravel pad requires stone dust instead of the larger crushed stone or river stone because it is better for your horses’ feet. Also, it helps to keep horse barns out of the mud and provides long-lasting support. If you want to prepare a gravel pad as a DIYer, make sure it extends at least 2 feet longer than the barn size.
Besides that, it needs to be accessible to roll your horse barn onto your pad. For that reason, most constructors recommend using stone dust for horse barn projects. In practice, small run-in-sheds do not require gravel pads, but large ones do. For instance, the bigger run-in sheds with storage rooms or other barn portable buildings require building a gravel pad. If your lot is off level, you need to level it properly.