Your outdoor space gives the first impression regarding your personality and taste. How well you set up the path and driveways surrounding your home or garden will greatly affect the aesthetic appeal and property value. To most people, gravel and concrete are the standard materials when paving their walkways and driveways runs. But in this article, we will discuss a growing trend that serves the same purpose at a cheaper rate and adds aesthetic value - Decomposed Granite.
Decomposed granite or DG requires no prior knowledge to install, and most DIY fanatics find it fun to use it. Still, we recommend having a professional install it so you do not run into issues and have it properly installed. This material is fully permeable, and if well stabilized, it is able to withstand erosion. Read on to get better insights from The Landscape Expert on this latest trend.
What is Decomposed granite?
Decomposed granite is a finer, yet firmer version of gravel. As the name suggests, DG is one of the natural granite derivatives. Immediately after the granite erodes, and weathers, it slowly starts to flake and crumble away from the parent source to form the Decomposed granite.
After a successful decomposition, landscapers then grind the final product to meet their preferred sizes. The final product varies in color from brown to buff with several other shades of red, green, black or gray, making it the perfect blend for most exteriors.
Uses of the Decomposed Granite (DG)
- Pathways: DG is commonly used on pathways in both commercial and residential places. The DG brings a more rustic and natural feel that blends perfectly with all exteriors. It’s highly permeable and hence, users don’t have to worry about flooding or runoffs in their homesteads;
- Patio: Compared to other materials, the DG gives the patio a stable and harder surface. The project takes very minimal time and is cheaper than other hardscape materials like pavers and concrete. A stabilized DG is the most common type for this purpose, but the resin is also an option for people seeking durability;
- Artificial turf base: Artificial turf bases require a good base material to serve its purpose right. Decomposed granite, in this case, is the best bet, thanks to its gravel structure that easily breaks down and conforms to the ground. In addition, the DG is very easy to install and requires little labor and finances;
- Garden bed: If you need an eco-friendly and low maintenance garden, the decomposed granite works magic. The natural DG is chemical free, reducing any harm on the plants. Its permeable nature eases water penetration to the ground, hence, curbing floods. Owing to its multiple color collection, you can select the color that will perfectly complement the exteriors of the house involving the project.
Apart from landscaping, decomposed granites are also used for several other purposes like sports surfaces, mulching purposes and on driveways of hotels.
Types of Decomposed Granites
Three forms of Decomposed Granites are common among landscapers. They include loose DG, Stabilized DG, and DG with resin.
Loose DG: This is the cheapest type of DG. It is the basic form of Decomposed Granite with no additives. It is mostly used for landscape mulching, patios, playgrounds or garden paths, and provides perfect drainage. However, compared to other forms, loose DG is the most unstable and is easily eroded. For this reason, you are advised not to use it around your houses, especially if you have wooden flooring because it may damage the floor. Additionally, during heavy rains, loose DG pathways are always mushy and muddy.
Stabilized DG: Stabilized DG is a compound of Decomposed granite and a stabilizer. The DG is more expensive than the loose DG, but it’s still an affordable option. When laid, the stabilized DG resembles the loose DG, but on the peripheral, it is firmer and less affinitive to erosion. This, in turn, increases its life span, hence, reducing the maintenance cost. The DG is common in homes, where there is limited movement. The stabilized DG is less muddy during heavy rains compared to loose DG. You can order the loose DG and stabilize it on your own, or better still, buy the already stabilized DG that is cheaper and less laborious.
DG with resin: This is the best type of decomposed granite, and also the most expensive. When the resin is added to the DG, the surface created resembles an asphalt surface and is popularly called the poly pavement. The resin DG is the strongest and most durable, making it a perfect match for driveways or high capacity paths. It doesn’t look as authentic as the stabilized or loose DG, but you can be sure of its durability. Its firm nature completely curbs erosion and tracking, hence reducing its maintenance fee. However, its drainage is downright poor compared to loose and stabilized DG.
How to Stabilize the DG
There are very cheap options to stabilize your decomposed granites. You can choose to either use a stabilizer solution that is readily available on all landscaping stores or online shops or use organic-lock which is one of the natural binders. More to giving your DG a durable touch, the stabilizer comes as a perfect alternative to asphalt, concrete that look less natural, and still impermeable.
The Decomposed Granite Installation Process
Installing decomposed granites is a simple task, but requires a little bit more skills for you to get perfect and lasting results. You need some carpentry basics and access to a compactor or roller, with good water flow.
- Decomposed Granite: You can choose from the above options depending on the durability needed, and usage
- Header boards: A recommended size of 4” wide is the most appropriate
- Compactor or heavy roller to compress the granites
- Rake for leveling purposes
- Hosepipe with a nozzle end for proper-pattern watering
- A calculator, pencil, paper, and measuring tape
- Layout the path terrain: Use your header board, spray paint and a rope to lay out where you want the path to stretch to. Ensure the path`s curves are smooth and use your tape measure to ensure accuracy on the straight areas. After that, level the ground, by excavating about 4 inches to perfectly align it with the lawns, once you pour in the Decomposed granite;
- Estimate the amount of decomposed granite required: After successfully laying down the terrains, use a tape measure, pen, paper, and calculator to measure the distance. Accurately stretch across the width of the path and multiply it with the length to get the actual square meters that the path extends. Then seek an expert’s advice to know how much-decomposed granite is needed;
- Erect the header boards: Excavate about 1” deep and sink the header board. This leaves about 3” to fill the decomposed granite. After that, use stakes to anchor the headers at intervals of about 4 feet apart;
- Add the weed barrier: If you are worried of weeds tampering the good outlook of your pathways, purchase a weed barrier fabric and spread it out below the decomposed granite;
- Add the primary layer of the decomposed granite: For you to get firmer results, you are required to place the DG in two layers. The first layer extends to about 1.5” deep, half the square area, and should be thoroughly watered, and left for about 8 hours. Then compress it using a compactor or roller to make it steadier. If you don’t have a roller or compactor, you can use a quick DIY fix, by spreading a flat wood slab on the surface and walk on it;
- Add the secondary layer of the DG: Add the DG on the remaining 1.5” layer and repeat the soaking process, and give it another 8 hours to harden before compressing it. Logically, constant compression automatically reduces the size of the decomposed granite by about an inch, hence a third layer is needed to level the path;
- Final touches and maintenance: Once you are done laying the decomposed granite, you should again water it and leave it for some other 8 hours to harden. After that, you can then rake it up to spread the topmost surface and give the path a natural look. If you are using the loose DG type you will require to maintain it constantly by leveling the top surface that may have been eroded to unwanted places. However, if you use the stabilized type, there is no cause for alarm as only simple maintenance is required. Once your path wears out, just refresh it by adding another layer and repeating all the steps outlined above.
How Much Would it Cost?
Prices vary depending on the type of DG you need. As earlier mentioned, loose DG is the cheapest then the stabilized DG and finally the resin. Depending on your location and supplier, the prices can shoot up to $40 per cubic yard; but averagely, most suppliers sell the DG for $5. Again, the service prices solely depend on the buyer. If you opt to do it yourself, you chop the prices by up to half because only materials are required. However, if you seek the services of a professional, the average recommended rates range from $4 to $7 depending on your terrain, size of the pathway, and the intensity of labor required. For residents around Orange County, you can feel free to contact The Landscape Expert, for a more accurate quotation.
Pros and Cons of Using Decomposed Granites
Undoubtedly, decomposed granites are the best bet when it comes to perfect pathways. Some of its notable advantages include:
- DG is highly versatile: Decomposed granites can fit in different landscaping projects including; pathways, driveways, patios and many more. The resin type is also perfect for mulching, and weed control, owing to its poor drainage. However, you can as well use the other types, but you have to lay a weed fabric underneath;
- Affordable: It is not the cheapest option available but compared to other hardscape materials, it is relatively affordable. DG costs barely a fifth what interlocking pavers may cost, and a third the cost of concrete, and it is long lasting and requires minimal maintenance;
- Very attractive: Decomposed granite tops come in different shades and colors and hence can perfectly blend with almost all exterior decors and manicured lawns. Mostly, combining the DG with flagstone makes it even more attractive whether in the walkways or patios. Additionally, you can match more than one color and create a perfect pattern;
- Easy maintenance: If for instance, your interlocked pavements start to wear out or disintegrate, it becomes very expensive and time-consuming to replace. On the other hand, when the decomposed granite erodes or weathers, you only need to rake it up or add another layer and you are done.
- Has excellent drainage: All DG types except that with resin are fully permeable, hence water can easily penetrate to the ground. Gravel as well has this feature, but DG is firmer and much more beautiful than the latter.
- It is not well smoothed: Depending on the supplier or quarry, you may get decomposed granites that have very sharp edges making it impossible to walk barefoot. However, with the right supplier, that challenge is completely curbed;
- Easily falls apart: Naturally, DG are naturally loose and hence any form of strong wind, or intense rain may erode them over time, but with the resin type, that challenge is controlled;
- Easily tracked on shoe’s underground: If you use DG in your home`s pathways, you are most likely to find pieces inside the house. This mostly affects homes with hardwood floors, because the stones majorly compromise the quality of the floor;
- Cars leave dents if parked for a long time: Owing to the loose nature of the DG, cars that have been parked for quite some time on their surface tend to leave dents and erodes the surface. This, in turn, gives the owner a hard time as they always have to rake the ground after a car leaves.
Decomposed Granite Services from a Orange County Landscaper Near Me
Looking for decomposed granite services near you? Look no further. At The Landscape Expert, we offer all the landscaping services, and we are experts at installing DG at very affordable rates to all Orange County, CA residents. Don’t hesitate to call us today through our phone number 714-855-3479 for a free professional consult and a quote.