Gravel is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward material for garden paths that doesn't require a lot of specialty equipment, but you will need a few standard materials to complete the job. With your supply list in hand, you can make one trip to the hardware store to get everything you need to build a walkway.
Gravel shifts and settles easily because of the small, individual pieces, but it still needs a solid base for a durable walkway. If you have clay soil that is hard and stable, you don't need to add any other base material, advises This Old House. For other areas, a compact base of either sand or stone pack -- consisting of stones and dust -- creates the necessary foundation for the gravel. A tamper is used to compact the base material.
A protective layer over the base material doesn't take long to install but saves you time on maintenance for the finished path. A layer of landscaping fabric along the entire walkway keeps weeds from growing up through your path. You might think the weight of the base and gravel will stop the pesky plants, but many weeds grow even under adverse conditions. Landscape fabric is easy to cut to size and lays directly on the sand or stone pack. When you start a new piece of landscape fabric, overlap the last piece by several inches so weeds can't get through at the joints. Anchoring pins hold the fabric in place so it won't shift under the gravel.
An edging material keeps all of the loose gravel from shifting off of the path. It's not required, but your walkway stays neat and won't wear away with an edger. The shape of the path plays a role in choosing the edging. For a straight walkway, you can use almost any material, including treated wood, pavers or metal edging. For curved paths, you want a material that bends, such as galvanized steel edging, notes This Old House. The edging goes in place after the base is in place but before you pour in the gravel.
The gravel itself is the last step of the pathway construction. Gravel comes in a variety of sizes and colors. If you want a durable pathway with rocks that stay in place, choose a large size with 3/4-inch pieces. For a walkway that is comfortable on bare feet, smaller pieces are a better choice, advises The Family Handyman. The traditional gray color is always an option, but gravel also comes in other colors. Red, brown, white and black gravel options are available.