Adding texture to a garden adds year-round interest, even when winter is at its bleakest. Take a tip from designers and find out how to use pebbles in a garden design.

Path of Black Granite Plank Paving on cotnrasting pebbles.
A very popular combination: pebbles and plank paving, here in our Black Granite. Design by Gardens of the Future.

Pebbles: sculptural and useful

Pebbles are an ideal addition to porcelain and natural stone paving. A quick glance at what's on the market will reveal a broad choice of colour, size and texture. And in winter, they really come into their own, offering a sculptural element as their contours are made glossy with rain, highlighting shadow and contrast.

Soil protector

Of course, they're useful too, preventing soil erosion and capping during downpours, suppressing weeds (especially when used in conjunction with Weedblocker membrane), aiding drainage and reducing evaporation (OK, that's more of a summer thing).

Design detail

Oval patio of Platinum Grey porcelain paving, with pebble water feature and slatted bench.Design by Mark Langford.
Grey pebbles to match the water feature boulder and the Platinum porcelain paving add texture to this patio and hide the workings of the fountain in this design by Mark Langford. Built by HG Landscapes Woburn.

Pebbles are unlikely ever to offer more than a supporting role in hard landscaping—the infill around paving, along a lawn edge, in a water feature, or to make a weed-suppressing mulch for plants - but they're still a valuable addition.

They can be used like setts to delineate paving, or as a way to add interest to large patios. Many have a smooth outline that works really well with the linearity of modern designs.

Ideas for combining pebbles with paving

Pale pebbles edge Black Basalt porcelain paving surrounded by exotic planting.
Smooth pebbles create a contrast in colour and texture with our Black Basalt Porcelain Paving in this design by Sara Edwards at No. 30 Design Studio, built by Design It Landscapes.

Pale pebbles bring a bright accent to contemporary greys as shown in the picture above, combined with our Basalt porcelain paving. To tone rather than contrast, Black Lava pebbles would work well.

While water and pebbles are a natural combination, as suggested by the picture below, how about fire? The addition of Black Lava pebbles to a firepit adds drama, while their volcanic origins make them a natural choice for the position.

White pebbles in a raised rain garden bed with Flamed Grey Sandstone coping
These white pebbles suppress weeds and aid drainage in this rain garden bed edged with Flamed Grey Sandstone Coping in a design by Rhiannon Williams of Landform Consultants.

Extraordinarily versatile, pebbles blend their character to the surrounding space – adding texture to a minimalist landscape, or an organic, textural appeal in more traditional settings.  It's worth remembering too that aggregates small enough to walk on, as in the picture at the top, will also introduce the element of sound and movement underfoot, increasing the sensual experience of a garden.

Post updated: September 2023