Landscaping with Decomposed Granite
As we approach almost a decade in the landscape installation business, landscaping with decomposed granite has been a popular option in many of our hardscape and landscape designs. We love taking a blank canvas and giving it new life with and purpose using natural materials. One of nature’s most versatile and cost-effective materials is Decomposed Granite (DG). If you are not familiar with this granite, it’s a common material found in parks, pathways and even baseball fields. It can be left loose and crunchy or stabilized to create a rock-solid surface.
What is Decomposed Granite?
Granite itself is igneous rock. If it’s been too long since you studied your earth science, igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidifying of magma or lava. This is the most common igneous rock we know of on our planet. Decomposed granite is a natural derivative of granite. As granite in the earth encounters weathering, it naturally erodes into flakes and crumbles. These flakes and crumbles are decomposed granite. To create a more consistent and useable product, the flakes and crumbles are crushed and screened to specific sizes. Decomposed granite is produced by over 100 quarries throughout all regions of the United States. Depending on the area of the mine, decomposed granite can be found in red, brown and gold tones.
How is Decomposed Granite Used in Landscaping?
When most people think of granite, they think of something hard like a kitchen counter or large chunks of stone. However, once crushed or “decomposed”, DG offers endless applications. Because decomposed granite is very strong and crumbly, it can be compacted for use in hardscaping projects such pathways, patios, driveways and even roads. While decomposed granite has a natural beauty allowing for it to exist on its own, it can also be used as a practical base material when installing heavy landscaping materials such as those used in stone & paver patio installation, custom water features or a hot tub. One of the most attractive qualities that decomposed granite offers in the world of landscaping is its ability to be used in many yard drainage solutions.
When considering using decomposed granite for your project, you should think through the finish you wish to be left with. Keep in mind that decomposed granite is a natural material and after installed, has a sandy finish. If you need a more polished finish, you should consider stabilizing it.
Stabilizing Decomposed Granite
Decomposed granite can be stabilized naturally or chemically. If your landscaping area will be supporting a lot of weight or be subjected to heavy foot or vehicle traffic, it will absolutely need to be compacted and hardened. You can do this naturally using water and a plate compactor. Install a few inches of decomposed granite, water the area and then run the plate compactor on top of the decomposed granite surface area. Install a few more inches of decomposed granite and repeat the watering and compacting. To create a solid surface, plan to install at least 4 inches of compacted DG, 5-6 inches of loose DG. To create a more polished and solid look, you can also find chemical stabilizers that are applied to your compacted decomposed granite area.
Whether you are building a new outdoor living space or simply want to add more function to a struggling side yard area, landscaping with decomposed granite can be used to bring utility and a natural charm to almost any outdoor project.
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