About the gravel, I have been looking at that all over the area lately and prices vary widely. Depends on what color and stuff you want, how big or little the stone, delivery or not, etc.
I am probably going to be buying a few tons after I get my 55 set up going and the house painted. Right now I'm loving something called Delaware Stone.
I really like the blues and grays and hits of red. The house we bought last year has strait white marble type rock and we can't wait to get rid of it. I'm probably going to get the pea gravel size because it feels awesome when you walk on it barefoot. Very soft.
So far the best place I've found it was Seaside Mulch in Wilmington. In fact, they had one of the better selections overall of anywhere I could find, and I looked around some in Morehead City, Jacksonville, and Wilmington, and everywhere in between. Even some places between Morehead and New Burn. I actually bought about 2 tons of large stone from them last month for about $700. I had to drive to Jacksonville to the Home Depot, rent the flatbed truck they have for like $50, haul ass to Wilmington, drive back up to Emerald Isle to unload the stone by hand, then drive back to Jacksonville to drop the truck off, all in about 4 hours. But it was so worth it for the stone we got because no one else had anything like it.
There is also a really cool place in Wilmington called The Stone Garden. They have a decent website if you get a chance to check it out. The website has a newsletter with some monthly specials that can save you a lot.
Just another thing to mention though. I have been helping take beach sediment samples with the lab over a Onslow Beach (on Camp Lejeune) and am blow away at the tons of awesome smooth beach pebbles. They range from about a dime to the palm of your hand mostly, and it is everywhere. I was taking samples this afternoon (just got home) and collect a huge bag full. Actually ripped the canvas bag it was so heavy. Also got a big bag of just shell hash. It looks really good too. Haven't decided yet if I want to use it in my tank setup or for landscaping. I know there are a lot of places out on Emerald Isle and the rest of the island that have spots like that.
I'll try to get some pics of it tomorrow for you. It would kind of come down to if you want to spend the money and have it easy, or save a ton of money and collect the stones or shell yourself. The shell stuff would be really quick depending on how much you need, the smooth beach pebbles a bit longer, but would look awesome.