A year ago I started to lay down gravel where the omnipresence of lawn used to be. By dint of similar landscape fiddles I have not mowed grass in decades. I hate, positively hate, lawnmowing.
That I am building my growing garden on sand by using all the lawn clippings I can get, is -- I grant you -- a massive contradiction. I'm an opportunist: one person's chlorophyll trash is another's treasure, right? (It must be -- look at me.)
Here where I live The Laying Down of the Stones, like the touch of God, is a landscape standard.
Underneath all the way down is sand and sand doesn't hold moisture so well. When you carpet with stones, on sand there's no surface pooling of water. It becomes a rocky skin -- but one that protects the underneath from evaporation.
If I had my way my own domicile would be completely mulched and gravelled, but the other domestic live-in half wanted some lawn for people sports like playing catch with the dogs.
That I have to mow ! (Grrrrr!)
Anyway, gravel gardening on sand with native plants works a treat. Throw in a few exotics -- Lavender, Jasmine, Rosemary... esp the Mediterranean flora -- and you'll have a picture fab landscape idyll.
Engaging with gravel has its feedbacks and my Laying Down of the Stones proved to be a learning exercise.
One of the primary reasons for gravelling here -- especially close to the house -- was to reduce the opportunity for sandflies (midgies) to gather. The vicious bite of sandflies (Ouch!) can ruin many an evening in swampy coastal areas like ours and my logic was that maybe they won't appreciate rocky terrain and inorganic mulch and take up residence elsewhere. Since there's no way to keep sandflies corralled -- they are small enough to pass through fly screens -- my design brief was to manipulate the environment so they'd be kept at very very long unbitten arm's length.
Voila (Eureka moment! Eureka moment!) gravel gardening (thought I)! Ditto for mosquitoes.
Once I combined an abhorrence of lawnmowing with a fear of sandflies, the rest, as they say, is history.
I gravelled on.
I used the cheapest aggregate I could get, but -- and I apologise to all those organic puritans out there -- I laid down plastic weed mat underneath. The mat made dealing with weeds possible while enabling me to spend much less money on gravel as I could get away with a shallower layer of stones. The main game was to grow bushes and small tress while reducing the organic wherewithall underneath so that weeds and sandflies couldn't gain habitation.
The layout works a treat. No mowing. No mowing! Occasional weed pulling and so far, not much in the way of early morning and evening savagery of flesh bites. There's also very little watering involved. Gravel gardens look after themselves.
The only drawback with gravel is that without stepping stones gravelled areas are brutal on bare feet.
But here's a tip -- something I learnt by coincidence: when laying down the gravel contour the ground so that you get depressions, swales and gullies. Gravel on plastic mat makes for easy rain water harvesting and flow. The water still passes through to the sand below but is slowed and directed where you may want it. You can also engineer typography where -- on flat sand -- none originally existed.