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Building a Gravel Shed Pad: Step-By-Step Guide

Gravel shed pads are an affordable, reliable foundation for a shed. Not sure how or where to get one? Check out our Same-Day gravel shed pad installation service, or keep reading through this step-by-step guide on how to build a gravel shed pad.

NOTE: Sheds Unlimited is NOT responsible for structural problems if one fails to follow the instructions. Failure to follow instructions will void the Sheds Unlimited Warranty and may incur extra delivery charges!

Is gravel a good foundation for a shed?

Gravel Shed Pads are popular (especially for storage/utility sheds) for several reasons. 

durable gravel pads available


If built correctly, gravel shed pads prove to be durable and resistant to wear. A gravel pad combines the characteristics of long wear and durability of concrete pads with the affordable temptation of blocks. They also allow good drainage for the shed while not easily settling over time.

easy installed gravel shed pads

Easy Installation

If you are looking for a foundation that is not as heavy-duty, permanent, and complicated to install, a gravel pad is probably for you. If you are up to it, you can even install it yourself (keep reading).



Gravel shed pads are made of much more accessible materials than concrete foundations. They are also installed much more quickly and easily. Because concrete pads are more complicated to install, they usually require additional contractor assistance to ensure they are installed correctly.

Building Your Own Shed Pad

10 Steps. Ready to dig in?

1. Choose the Site

  • Legalities:
    • There are often legal requirements for where you are allowed to put sheds on your property. Make sure you are familiar with the building and zoning laws and obtain all necessary permits. If your shed is small enough, you may not need a permit. Often, building codes only require a permit if the shed is over 200 sq. ft. However, many municipalities have other requirements, such as where you can place the shed in your yard or the distance it needs to be from other buildings or property lines. Additionally, there may be some regulations on what the foundation is composed of. Sometimes a permanent foundation is required, or anchors are mandatory. Bottom line, always contact your local municipality and get a clear understanding of what is expected so that fees are not imposed later. 

Jamaica Cottage Shop gives a helpful list of questions that you should ask your local municipality:

  1. What are the required setbacks for a shed?
  2. What are footprint regulations? (Percentage of the yard that can be covered by a shed)
  3. Is there a maximum size building allowed to be built without a permit?
  4. If I do need a permit for my shed, what do i need to obtain it? How much will it cost?
  5. What foundation types are allowed on my property?
  6. Does my shed or cottage need to be anchored? (you may need to install concrete piers or another anchoring system)
  • The Slope:
    • The rougher or more sloped the area is, the harder it will be to build a level shed and keep it resistant to settling.
  • Obstacles and Access:
    • Make sure the land is clear. Remove large debris or anything that will get in the way of the shed and make construction difficult. Additionally, think about shed delivery. Make sure there is wide, easy access to the shed pad for the shed and its transporting equipment.
  • Drainage:
    • Take note if the area you chose has good drainage away from the shed. You don’t want to have water pooling around/in the shed or causing the foundation to settle or deteriorate faster.
  • Solid Ground:
    • Undisturbed soil is highly preferable. If you install a foundation on recently disturbed ground, it may very quickly sink and settle unevenly after installation.
  • Aesthetic and Use:
    • As obvious as it may be, choose a location that upgrades your property’s aesthetic and allows the shed to be truly useful.
  • Utility Lines
    • Hitting a utility line while you are digging can cause serious problems. Make sure you know exactly where they are located and avoid those areas. If you do not know, call 811 to request utility companies to mark the lines on your property. You must not dig any closer than 24” (2 feet) from any utility line.
gravel-shed-pad-for sheds-unlimited-shed
shed on gravel shed pad
gravel shed pad ready for a shed to be installed

2. Gather Supplies

Make sure you have the following things: 

  • Level (laser level, string, or carpenter’s)
  • Shovel
  • A wheelbarrow would be useful
  • Garden (not leaf/yard) rake.
  • Compactor (this is preferable, though a hand tamper would also do the job of compacting your gravel, just not as well)
  • Tape measure
  • Drill and Auger bit (½”)
  • Sledge Hammer
  • Circular Saw
  • Long Screws (4”)
  • Rebar (½”)
  • Spray paint (optional: for marking dimensions)
  • Pressure-treated lumber (4×4, 4×6, or 6×6)
  • Weed Barrier fabric
  • Crushed Stone (¾” clean)
  • Small Skid steer – optional

3. Plan Dimensions

  • Mark your Corners and Sides. You will want to be a total of 18″- 2′ longer and wider than the shed itself. Giving a 1’ foot perimeter. Make SURE that all your corners are even and your lines parallel.
  • Figure out the slope, and if you will need to build up, dig out, etc. Consider the potential need to build a retaining wall or level the area. A laser level would be especially helpful for this step. You can also use a string or straightedge/level. You will want your shed pad to be PERFECTLY level and square.
marking a shed pad perimeter

4. Start Excavating

  • Begin removing soil as needed. The depth will depend on how big your shed is and if you want the shed pad to be level with the ground or raised. Generally, for smaller sheds, there should be at least 4”-6” of gravel and it should sit a few inches below ground level. If you want it level with the ground, dig down to the desired/recommended depth.
excavating in preparation for a gravel shed pad
checking that the excavation for the gravel shed pad is level
excavation and perimeter build of a gravel shed pad

5. Build Perimeter

  • Install the perimeter using the 4×4, 4×6, or 6×6 pressure-treated lumber as you are excavating. As you place each piece, make sure that it is exactly level. Secure together with your 4” long screws. Before beginning the second layer, double-check that your perimeter is square (the diagonals are equal). Build up from the first layer, making sure to overlap the seams of the lower layer and connect them approximately every two feet with the long exterior screws. At the corners, alternate the seam placement and Reinforce with extra screws. Usually, you will want at least 2-3 layers for your perimeter, probably more if it is a larger shed. 
  • If building on a slope, you may need extra layers on the higher or lower ends. Continue these layers until they extend a few inches underground. 
  • If you need to build a retaining wall, you may need to add extra support by adding braces. “Deadman” braces (installed inside or outside of the perimeter) are a good way to do this.
  • Add rebar steaks every 2 or 3 layers. They should be cut at least 24” in length and placed about 6’ apart. Use your auger bit to drill holes, and pound in the steaks with a sledgehammer. If your perimeter is thicker than three layers, reinforce them with 16” rebar. 
  • Fill in any gaps around the perimeter using excavated soil, once you are finished constructing and leveling the perimeter.
building the perimeter for a gravel shed pad
adding a layer onto the gravel shed perimeter base
finishing the corner of a gravel shed pad

6. Finish Excavating

  • Finish excavating and leveling the interior once the perimeter is completed and set to the depth you desire. Make sure it is at least 4”-6″ deep and more if it is a larger shed. Especially if you had to build up an end of the shed pad, make sure that the soil is as packed as possible. A tamper or skid steer (is you are using one) can work well.
excavating the interior of a gravel shed pad site
making sure that a gravel shed pad is level
gravel shed pad 27

7. Add Lining

  • Cut or weed barrier fabric slightly larger than the interior area of your shed pad. Staple this to the inside of the perimeter. Now, you are ready to pour the gravel!
installing lining for gravel shed pad
freshly layed gravel in gravel shed pad
gravel shed pad

8. Lay the Gravel

  • Pour the ¾” clean crushed gravel into the shed pad. DO NOT use river stone (smooth stones), small stones (won’t allow for drainage), or a clean stone / smaller pieces mix. The minimum needed is a 4”-6″ depth, and deeper if it is a larger shed.
  • Spread the gravel evenly and make sure it is level.
  • Compact the gravel once you have spread it, spiraling from the outside in (Site Prep). A compactor works the best, but a tamper will work too if you don’t have access to one. This step is important because it ensures that your shed has a firm foundation that won’t settle over time.
adding gravel to shed pad interior
shed pad filled with gravel
compacting gravel pad

9. Add Blocks (Optional)

  • This is optional, but some people opt to also add concrete blocks under their sheds for even more support. You can settle the block into the gravel for a more seamless appearance, just make sure the gravel remains packed well under the block.

10. Wrap it Up!

  • Clear the mess, and your shed pad is complete! Add any desired landscaping and have your shed delivered. Enjoy your fresh, durable shed foundation. 
installing shed onto shed pad
installing shed with mule onto shed pad
shed finished being installed on shed gravel pad

Some steps and info taken from Site Prep, Jamaica Cottage Shop, and the Sheds Unlimited Team.

Gravel Shed Pad Installers: Our service

Sheds Unlimited will both deliver your prefab shed AND install its shed pad on the same day. Remove the headache of trying to do it yourself, get all the tools and supplies, and install it correctly. Let our experienced experts do it all for you! View our custom shed options, or check out the prefab sheds we have in stock that are ready for quick delivery.

adding gravel to shed pad interior
same day gravel shed and shed delivery installation
same day gravel pad installation

What Does a Gravel Shed Pad Cost?

The cost will depend on how large your gravel pad is. Hometown Structures offers some helpful insights: usually, shed pads range anywhere from $5 (or lower) to $10 per square foot. If it costs $5 per square foot, a gravel shed pad for an 8×10 shed would be around $600, and a pad for a 10×12 shed would cost around $840. In general, they could cost anywhere from just a couple hundred to a couple thousand depending on size, and the type of materials used for the job. Additionally, if you have experienced personnel install it for you, you will have service and labor fees figured into the price. Also, remember that in some cases you may need to purchase a permit for your shed. Here is a helpful table from Architectural Digest that gives some estimates of different shed foundation costs. Check out our affordable same-day shed pad installation. You don’t need to worry about a thing!

Other Gravel Shed Foundation Questions

What gravel is best for a Gravel Shed Pad?

It is most often recommended to use larger clean crushed stone. Such as ¾ clean stone. You DO NOT want your stone to be too small or very smooth (like river stone). If it’s smooth it won’t compact and hold very well and be more unstable. If there are small components, it will affect the drainage of the shed pad. Therefore, large crushed stone is preferable. ¾ crushed stone can cost anywhere from $30-$60 per cubic yard depending on where you purchase it and what the stone is made of. To figure out how much gravel you will need to purchase for your shed pad size and depth, read this article.

clean crushed gravel
clean crushed gravel

How deep should a gravel shed pad be?

A gravel shed pad needs to be at least 4” deep no matter how small the shed is. Although in general you will not need to go deeper than 6” at maximum. However, If you’re building your pad on a hill, it’s best to build the frame to be level, and backfill the interior of the pad entirely with gravel, or rock, avoid filling with debris such as tree limbs and stumps, to avoid settling over time.

shed pad ready for gravel
shed built built into hill
gravel shed built on hill

How do you secure a shed to a gravel foundation?

There are several ways you can anchor a shed to a gravel shed pad. The most common simplistic way to anchor a shed is by using a cable anchor. Learn more about different ways to implement this anchor. Site Prep gives information on a more permanent method of using concrete pillars and attaching them to your shed. Anchoring your shed may 

Can a shed sit directly on gravel?

Yes, you can place your shed directly on your gravel pad. Some people opt to embed concrete blocks in their gravel for the shed to also rest on, though this is optional (see more info). Some people also pour concrete pillars in the gravel shed pad to increase strength and stability (see info from Site Prep).

Other Shed Foundation Options

Some of the most popular shed foundation options include skids, concrete blocks, gravel pads, and concrete pads. All have their benefits and disadvantages. Sheds Unlimited is flexible with what foundation we install your shed on, but we highly recommend a gravel shed pad and would be more than happy to install it for you. If you are looking for a more permanent foundation solution, check out the concrete pad contractors that we would recommend. Additionally, see what custom and prefab sheds we offer, and browse our large inventory of sheds waiting for a quick delivery to your property.

Watch Foundation and Shed Installations

Gravel Shed Foundation Installed By Site Preparations

Delivery of a Prefab Shed on a Completed Foundation

For detailed step-by-step instructions, including a how-to video, see this guide to building a shed foundation.

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