How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

dragonfly_wings(Z8 - Central TX.)February 26, 2009

I'd like to create some paths and turn the small yard on one

side of my house into a patio using decomposed granite.

I'm wondering if there are any professionals here who know what the process involves beginning to end. I'd like to do it myself but don't know what I'd be getting into.

I might call someone from the Parks Dept. and ask them to connect me with their path construction folks and ask them.

If I had to guess at the steps involved I'm thinking I'd

first have to kill the grass (although it's not a lawn but rather a thinned, spotty area of weeds and native grass).

And maybe I should level the ground before beginning?

Then I'm not sure if I should lay down landscape cloth over the whole area or just apply Roundup or some other weed killer when/if weeds make their way through the granite chips. And if I use the cloth, what kind works best?

I have seen some professionally done paths in progress and it looked like they sunk some kind of plastic hardware cloth/grid into the ground first (instead of landscape cloth?), perhaps to hold the soil from shifting or running off when it rained. It actually looked like very short pieces of pvc pipe buried one next to the other and filled with sand.

Finally I'd probably need a heavy roller to go over it after applying each additional layer of decomposed granite until it was 4 inches thick or so.

Am I way off the mark on this? What am I not considering?

Also, does anyone know what kind of prices I should expect for the materials OR to have a professional do it?


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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Without adequate information, basics for a path: you'll want to dig a trench, remove sharp objects line with non-petrochemical landscape fabric, and install some kind of edging.

Better would be to rent a plate compactor and compact native soil, lay landscape fabric, install DG, plate compact surface, but you can flood trench with water to compact.

You don't need a geogrid for your yard. Don't hire anyone (says the guy who used to own a small design and construction business). Price for DG will likely range from ~$21-35/ton depending upon how nice it looks and where it is coming from.

This is an easy project but hard work, and you can go to Home Depot and purchase a how-to book and it'll be worth the money, as it'll likely have design ideas as well, and you'll want a curve or two in there.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:23PM
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dragonfly_wings(Z8 - Central TX.)

Thanks so much for the suggestions. So I'm not all that far off. I'm curious what other info I might provide to fill in the gaps for you?

I'm thinking there is too much area to cover to do the digging by hand. So I'm wondering if I should also rent a bobcat or other dirt mover to dig or scrape, spread out and level the top few inches of native soil? If so which machine would work best for that?

Also would appreciate more info about the type of landscape cloth to use as I know absolutely nothing about that or where to get them. I'm guessing that you aren't referring to the very thin roles of weed barriers available at garden centers. How thick is it?
Also just curious if having the landscape cloth under there prevents the DG from compacting as well as it might if it was compacted into the soil itself? The reason I'm hesitant about the cloth is that I found this (see link) and other path-making instructions online for DG and they don't mention landscape cloth at all, though I haven't found an explanation for why not. One blogger I read said that as a weed barrier it worked for awhile but that new seeds will eventually build up and make their home on the surface of DG and so you'll have weeds regardless.

And something else I've seen mentioned is the application of a 'stabilizer' in the mix that hardens and holds the DG together while still allowing water to seep through it. It may be the same principle behind the new pervious concrete that has been approved for LEED.

Anyway, those are just some further questions and thoughts.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:29PM
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Check out the recent post 'Cheapest way to build a patio' for more info on using a binder with your DG.

For landscape fabric, you can find it at HD but if you can wait until Costco stocks their spring products, you'll find they have it at a much better price.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 9:32PM
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I've created a garden path using decomposed granite. I bought it by the yard and it did not contain any stabilizer mixed in.

Does anyone know what kind of stabilizer/binder I can purchase at Home Depot or Lowes (or any hardware store) that will work?

No one at Home Depot understood what I was talking about or needed.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:54PM
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i may be too late with this, but i thought i might be able to help. you really don't need the "landscape cloth" layer, and in fact your suspicion that it inhibits the compaction is correct. the compacted dg will tend to break up as it slips on the landscape cloth and be less stable than if it were just on a base course.

i am an architect and have been working with landscape architects on decomposed granite paths, parking lots, patios, etc. for years. we have always had problems when the contractor insisted on using some kind of weed prevention cloth layer. the first thing you need to do is REMOVE the grass - don't just kill it. if you leave the dead grass, as it decomposes it will create voids that will cause settlement. the best way to install dg is to compact the base soil with a plate compactor, lay down about 4-6" of what is called aggregate base course or "road base" (assorted size gravel with some fines) and then compact that with the plate compactor, and finally the dg (about 3 inches thick) and compact that too. if the base is properly prepared and everything is compacted that way, it will be a rare and hardy weed that ever makes it's way through. make sure that the surface is crowned slightly or else slopes one way or the other. dg will absorb water, but it does so at a semi-slow rate, and you want to eliminate ponding.

you don't really need any kind of stabilizer or binder unless you want to support vehicular traffic. if you do, i don't know that you can get it at lowes or home depot. we usually have it supplied by a company called Stabilizer Solutions (out of Arizona) but they pre-mix it into the material and truck it out to the jobsite (cross country if necessary). not really good for do-it-yourself kind of jobs...

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 11:44AM
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