Return to the Landscape Design Forum | Post a Follow-Up

How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

Posted by dragonfly_wings (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 26, 09 at 20:53

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?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

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.


RE: How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

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.

RE: How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

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.

RE: How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

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.


RE: How to make a decomposed granite path/patio area

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...

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Landscape Design Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here