Paver Base Panel Vs. Gravel For Patio Base [Major Differences]

Kirstin Harrington
by Kirstin Harrington
It can be tough to choose between a panel base and gravel when you install a patio. Base paneling is much easier and quicker to install, but gravel prevents erosion and weed growth. Whether it be installation, durability, and weed prevention, let’s take a look at how panel and gravel bases are unique.

Picture it: you buy a new home or a plot of land, and it’s time to make your own. Adding a beautiful paver patio or walkway is the perfect addition to any yard or garden. There are several different ways to get the job done.

Two of the most common methods are by using gravel or paver base paneling. While gravel gives more of a classic look, paver base paneling has plenty of benefits.

When the two are head to head, I’d have to choose the base paneling. The major difference is how much easier installation is. The paneling not only takes less work, but can save you time and money as well.

If you’re unsure which installation method will work best for you, I’ve got you covered. Below we’ll chat about all things paver base paneling vs. gravel. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be ready to hit the yard and make a stunning pathway or patio.

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What is Paver Base

Paver base is a gravel aggregate that has rough edges and feels coarse. It’s usually made of a variety of rocks, including granite and limestone. The base of what it’s made out of will vary depending on where you live.

The rocks that are crushed up to make paver base range from tiny specks, like dust, to ¾ inches long. A few nicknames for paver base are Class 5, roadbed gravel, crusher rock, and ¾ minus gravel.

Due to the intense compaction of materials, this creates a firm base for your design idea. Pavers aren’t necessarily needed, but they can make the walkway or patio you’re working on much more durable.

Benefits of a Panel Base

There are several excellent benefits when you choose to apply a panel base to your project. Below you’ll find a handful of the most praised things that make the job easier. Let’s check out what made the cut.

Requires Less Digging

One of the most apparent benefits of using a paver base panel is that they require less digging. If you’re doing the work yourself, this will save you time and results in less strain on your body. The less time you have to recover from a long day doing yard work is more time to enjoy your patio.

Eliminates Heavy Gravel Fill

I like to think of using a paver base panel as a substitute. When you install these panels, you won’t have to use a ton of heavy gravel fill. It already has the material in it in a more compacted style to have the same effect as tons of gravel.

Saves Time

If you don’t have to add a bunch of heavy gravel and installation requires less digging, you’re saving time. A project that could take a week might take you a weekend. This is perfect for the folks that have busy lives filled with work and their kids.

Reduces Cost of Digging and Hauling

The average patio and walkway installation costs around $3,500. I don’t know about you, but I like to save money when building a patio. If you’re not paying a company to dig, extract, and haul out huge rocks, you’re saving money.

Any project you choose to take on yourself is going to cost less than hiring a professional. It’s just essential to know what you’re doing so that you get the final product you’re aiming for.

Prevents Damage to Property

When you hire a professional team to create a walkway or patio in your yard, they bring in heavy equipment. This includes massive excavators and diggers. These can end up tearing up your yard and causing damage to your property.

By doing it yourself, it may be more manual labor, but your garden and yard will be safe and sound. Plus, big machinery like that can be loud and disruptive, which you won’t have to deal with either.

Prevents Weeds and Build-Up

My favorite part of using paver base panels instead of just gravel is the maintenance. These paneling pieces prevent pesky weeds from popping up between the bricks and pavers laid down. Less time weeding means more time relaxing on your patio with an ice-cold drink.

What is Paver Gravel

The other option you have, if paver base panels aren’t your thing, is gravel. Paver gravel comes in a variety of different sizes and is made with different materials. Some of it is crushed stone, while others will be classic paver sand.

It goes by the nicknames C-33, leveling sand, and all-purpose gravel. You can’t use just any gravel to get the job done. Play sand, for example, is much too fine and can make the pavers uneven when compressed.

Benefits of Paver Gravel

Deterrent to Weed Growth

Using gravel underneath pavers can discourage the growth of weeds, moss, and other plants. We all know how resilient weeds are and how difficult they are to get rid of. It can be tough to keep them at bay, but polymeric sand and gravel are known to get the job done.

Prevents Ants

Along with deterring weeds, a layer of gravel or sand does the same thing for ants. Ants are known for building their hills right on top of pavers. They burrow in the earth, and once pavers become loose, they work their way up to the top.

Putting a layer between the natural earth and pavers will prevent them from taking over your patio or walkway.

No More Erosion

After putting in all the hard work of installing an outdoor area, the last thing you want is for erosion to happen. It’s one of the most common problems stone pavements face. This can happen from natural rain and wind or by pressure washing the surface.

Because paver sand and gravel binds tightly to the bottom part of the stone, it prevents erosion. It doesn’t matter how heavy the downpour is or how long snow sits on the surface; the pavers won’t budge.


Due to the binding power of stone slabs to sand and gravel, they’re incredibly durable. You’ve read about how they can withstand natural weather, insects, and even weeds. This is perfect for anyone hoping to enjoy their outdoor area for years to come.

It may be important for some folks to note that if you don’t want to use heavy stones, there are rubber pavers as well. These come with a slew of their own benefits, including that they’re much easier to install.

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Related Questions

Do you need landscape fabric under pavers?

Some homeowners and patio builders will opt for a layer of landscape fabric to reduce weeds. It gets positioned right at the bottom of the bed, between the gravel and sand layers. Something to note about landscape fabric is that it can interfere with water drainage.

When water doesn’t drain appropriately underneath pavers, the surface can become dangerously slippery. Also, water build-up can end up washing away the supporting sand directly under the pavers.

Can you lay pavers directly on dirt?

You should absolutely not place pavers directly onto dirt. If you think that the earth is hard, like clay, it still should be avoided. The ground naturally shifts over time, which means your pavers will too.

This can lead to uneven surfaces or even gaps between pavers. It’s also important to remember how much weight will be placed on the pavers. If you’re making a patio that can seat four, it’s crucial to have a base to support the weight.

How do you stop weeds from growing through pavers?

While there are a variety of different ways to prevent pesky weeds from showing up, white vinegar is a great method.

You can pour white vinegar into an empty spray bottle and spray the cracks between the pavers. Allow it to sit for a few hours and simply rinse it off using your garden hose. This kills weeds without hurting any of the nearby plants you love.

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Kirstin Harrington
Kirstin Harrington

Kirstin is a passionate writer who loves helping people learn new things when it comes to home improvement. When she's not behind a keyboard, she enjoys DIY projects, crafts, spending time with her pets, and making videos. She hopes that with all she writes, someone is finding a solution to their home improvement needs.

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