Decomposed granite or pea gravel?

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Hi everyone, I'm going to be removing the grass from my smallish front yard this coming spring and replacing it with an English cottage garden. I need your opinions/advice - should I use decomposed granite or pea gravel (or something else entirely) for the pathways? (We have put a low deck off the front door which is gray, new so it doesn't show it this picture). Thanks, Robin

This message was edited Dec 6, 2007 10:03 AM

Thumbnail by dryad57

Have you considered trying to match the colors of your pretty brick and making a curving, brick pathway? Maybe some thyme between some of the bricks?
Your home is charming!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Pea gravel tends to get tracked in on people's feet, dog's paws, etc more so than decomposed granite. I'd recommend either the DG or if you want a color other than goldish/tan then you can buy crushed rock--I have stuff that my landscaper called "quarter minus" fines that are a grayish color. Just make sure with either it or the DG that it gets tamped down really well--if it's not tamped down, then it'll get tracked around just as bad as pea gravel (pea gravel can't be tamped/compacted). I like velnita's suggestion of brick though, that would look really nice.

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Bricks.....hmmmm......hadn't even thought of that! I've got a brick pathway/patio in the back and weeding it, I think, is the thing that has pushed me towards a different option for the front ;->

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

Maybe plant some of the fragrant lower growers between the bricks to choke out the weeds? Smell pretty and no weeds, what a deal!

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

I'd not heard of "quarter minus" so did a little googling - it almost seems to me like it's a very close relative of pea gravel. Does it have rougher edges, is it smaller in size? I like the idea that it's a bigger size than DG, yet can be compacted. This is another very intriguing option! Thanks!

Novato, CA

I have had a completely different experience than ecrane in regards to pea gravel vs. decomposed granite tracking into the house.

Pea gravel is round pea sized gravel . It does not compact but it is clean and depending on how thick it is laid down it can be smooshy under foot and can jump its borders. The only time it gets tracked into the house is if a pea size stone get wedged in between a design detail in the bottom of your shoe sole. It does not 'stick' to the bottom of shoe soles that are smooth , it only gets tracked in when it can wedge itself into an orifice and normally it does not stick to dog or cat hair.

Decomposed granite is a gritty sharp edged sand like material that compacts down well , especially if it has an additional stabilizer mixed into it . The very small sharp gritty sand like particles easily stick to smooth shoe soles and compacts into shoe soles that have deep design details. As your shoe flexes across the indoor floor the tiny sharp edged sand grit scratches wood floors and dislodges into carpets and also will stain the carpet. If a dog or cat lays on a DG surface , tiny grit pieces of the sandy grit can stick to the animal hair and get tracked in.

Quarter inch or minus is called a variety of materials in the trade, depending on the location and the quarry . It is a matrix of small chipped , usually sharp edged , class II gravelly type stone , usually shale but not always. It's largest particles are no larger than 1/4" inch in diameter and it has a fair amount of fines ( tiny sharp grit type sand particles ) mixed into the matrix.
It compacts down very well without any stabilizer. The tiny grit mixes with the 1/4 inch sharp edged stones and it binds together to make a very solid surface. The larger 1/4 inch stones usually float to the top and become somewhat loose over time as the smaller sand like grit sifts to the bottom and becomes hard like concrete.
How the material 'wears' depends on how it was compacted , how it is used and how it was retained within its borders.
It is generally much less expensive in price than DG or pea gravel.




Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7b)

Can you rent one of those commercial grade tampers to help tamp it down?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Those would definitely work, but at least for the quarter minus stuff a hand tamper will do the job too. I had a landscaping company do a large portion of my yard, and they had the commercial grade compacter, then I did a smaller seating area on my own later with the same material and tamped it myself with the hand tamper, and now that we've had a few rains, I really don't notice a difference between the two areas (the rain seemed to really help with the compaction as well)

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Thank you very much ecrane and d_d for the explanations - it's hard to find good info like that. I also like the fact that the quarter inch can be tamped down by hand, and that it doesn't need anything extra to bind it. And doccat - I think you can rent the commercial tampers - they're nowhere near as big as a ditch witch and those puppies can be rented.

Novato, CA

Just to assist visually, here are three different types of surface treatment

1. Quarter inch minus - Note mis-spelling on image - should read 1/4 inch minus
This gravel came from a northern california quarry called Stoney Point.


Thumbnail by deviant_deziner
Novato, CA

2. Pea Gravel

Thumbnail by deviant_deziner
Novato, CA

3. decomposed granite
note - inside the bocce ball court ( sunken ) the surface is compacted oyster shells


Thumbnail by deviant_deziner
Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Thank you d_d, the images helped a great deal.

Novato, CA

glad to be of help.

happy holidays.

Alexandria, VA(Zone 7b)

I half sunk cut granite blocks (5" x 5" x 9") on either side of my four-foot wide front path and put down small bark chip mulch as the walking surface for the path. This solution has been a good one for me--mulch compacts, if it gets kicked outside of its parameters--it doesn't matter. Color is good, matches the rest of the mulch and earth.

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

That sounds beautiful! Do you have a pic???

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Consider flagstone. Did this myself. No prior experience. Lots of Aleve and a couple of bangs and scrapes.

Thumbnail by snapple45
(Terri ) South Bosto, VA(Zone 7a)

Snapple,

that looks very professional and very nice! Did you set the stones in concrete?

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Snapple, that is a BEAUTIFUL job!

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Thank you all. There is a 6' base of finely crushed stone (underlaid with weed mat) and tamped and watered. The sides were set, then the flagstones were arranged all at once. Quite a bit of trimming and shaping was necessary for uniform joint widths and a pleasing pattern. This took the most time because I had absolutely no experience and a lot of trial and error was involved. Each stone was leveled using a 6 foot level over the whole distance then hammered in place. I let them sit for a week with open joints and kept wetting the crushed stone base to make sure nothing was going to move or settle. Then the joints were filled with dry morter mix. The morter mix was misted with water until it was wet but not puddled. Twenty four hours later it was in use. That was three years ago. Not one stone has moved. There have been some small cracks in the joints. I patch those in the fall to keep water from freezing and thawing and causing cracking or heaving in the winter. So far so good. If I had it to do over I would choose an easier stone to work with. This was not a stone with two perfectly flat sides making the leveling process terrible. (I just had to have that blue green stone and that was the only way it came.) There is a lot of gorgeous stuff out there to lay that would be tons easier. It is a really rewarding project that you absolutely can do your self.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

A little closer look. I'm a small statured 62 yr old gal. I laid every stone myself. If that doesn't convince you that you can do this yourself I don't know what would!

Thumbnail by snapple45
Novato, CA

Beautiful job.
and as any of the regulars can tell you, I don't say such things lightly.

Very nice !

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Thanks so much for the details on how you accomplished such a beauty. Those are steps that anyone could follow - true DIY stuff!

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

I'm blushing. You might want to have a chiropracter on speed dial.

(Terri ) South Bosto, VA(Zone 7a)

Snapple,

How did you know how much material to order? Is there a formula?
I'm guessing you didn't get those beautiful stones at Lowes?

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

I'm fortunate that in this locality we have two close and very good natural stone suppliers. I measured the distance and width of the path, also the depth of the base. The supplier I chose did the calculations for the side block, crushed stone and flagstone. It turned out to be several tons. I rejected quite a bit as I opened the pallets. Ask your supplier what the pickup charge is for excess or rejects. It came delivered about 800 to 1000 lbs per pallet. I opened the pallets and arranged every stone on the adjacent driveway to pick the best. A second delivery was necessary because the rejects were substantial. The supplier was really good about it. Please pick a stone that's easy to work with - fairly uniform in thickness and flat on both sides. Ask if they can show you how to trim, cut or shape whatever you choose. Stones break different ways. You will have to shape some pieces in order to stay within the edging, have a pleasing pattern and keep fairly uniform joint widths. The more uniform in thickness and level the more the stone will cost. You will have fewer rejects and it will be easy to work with. It is worth paying for and you won't regret a penny spent.

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

I'm so grateful you dropped in here snapple - your notes and advice are excellent.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Delighted to share! You are probably more familier with morter/cement than I am but just in case you are a total novice like me, plan on filling the joints with the dry morter for the entire path, start to finish, with no break. The morter will immedialtely begin to wick up any moisture in the ground and could set as you work. If you stop and start the morter will have breaks. I under estimated the time it would take to do the entire path and had to quickly set up a flood light to finish after dark! It was certainly a learning experience. If you decide this is what you want to do please, please post pictures.

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

Pics will be posted, I promise!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Take a look here:

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/732837/

Amazing!
Elf

Scottsburg, IN(Zone 6a)

oooooooo - Elf, Thank You!! What a story, and what a final result! (What a find!!!)

Rob

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Greetings Rob!

I was so inspired by this brick path and the story that I bought three pallets of brick from Craig's list. It was an amazing deal, but I had to move them myself.

By the time I got them moved and restacked, I was totally worn out. :(

So there they sit, waiting for spring.

Everytime I look at the piles, I come back in and look at the future possibilites at that link. They are so inspiring. Brick can be amazing!

Best with your plans!
Elf

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Aw geez---for years I wanted grass pathways, but I decided this summer that would be too much water and maintenance in our hot summers. I had finally made up my mind to do my paths in tamped "ginger fines" with some irregular 'landings' of Saltillo tile and maybe a few of my handmade blue and white tiles and some tumbled blue glass thrown in for accent.

Now I'm freaking out again! What about the $*(_#+()_ gopher holes that pop up every year when it starts to rain--like now? I've managed to keep them out of most of my beds, but if they ruin these gravel paths after I finally get them done, I'm gonna have a conniption! And then there's the potential for weeds....and I really want some borders of succulents along the bases of my (eventually) low raised beds with recycled concrete retaining walls.......

And NOW there's snapple's gorgeous stone path......ooooh, I'd like something like that!!! oh, heck---maybe I just need to do the whole thing in Saltillo laid in mortar, the same as I'm doing with the front walkway....ARGGGHHHHH!!!! I think I'm having a pathway meltdown.......

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Have you already made the gravel path? If not, just lay down gopher wire on top of the ground, then landscape fabric on top of that, then put down your gravel. That should take care of the gophers and minimize the weeds.

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

I've just laid them out....haven't done anything else yet. So I'd have to dig them down a bit extra I guess, to have room for the wire so it wouldn't poke up through the gravel over time. When you say "gopher wire", do you mean chicken wire, or something different?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

It's like chicken wire, but it's got 3/4 inch holes. Supposedly (according to the gopher wire manufacturer...so interpret it however you want!) 1/2 inch is to weak and the gophers can chew through it, and 1 inch (which is what chicken wire is) is too big and smaller gophers could squeeze through it. I don't see why you'd have to dig down any further--regardless of what's underneath you'd want to put down at least an inch or two of gravel, and that would cover up the gopher wire just fine.

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks! I'll add that step to the plan---first I have a tree trunk I have to get ground up and out of the way. In the winter when it's wet, do gravel paths get moss?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I've never seen any on mine even in the shady areas (this is only the 2nd winter though, so maybe in a few years it would happen). I do have moss on some of the rocks in my dry creekbed which is next to the gravel path, but there's no moss on the gravel.

Gilroy (Sunset Z14), CA(Zone 9a)

I've got some lovely stuff showing up on the bare dirt that's now where the paths will eventually be. Sigh...if only it would be there all year, but I think 108 degrees is a little rough on it in the summers LOL! I'll have to try to harvest some and get it started on my concrete-chunk raised bed wall.

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