If you’re thinking about remodeling your garden or parts of your yard, you may want consider looking into decomposed granite which is also known as DG.
In recent years, decomposed granite has become quite popular for landscaping because it looks natural, inexpensive, permeable and versatile.
In all likelihood, you’ve already come across or walked on DG more than once without knowing it.
What Is Decomposed Granite?
Decomposed granite looks and feels similar to gravel but has a finer texture. It is formed from natural weathering (where nature’s elements breaks down larger rocks and minerals to smaller particles) and erosion of solid granite.
These processes turn it from something large, hard and tough into smaller pieces of weaker rocks. Then, additional weathering turns this material into coarse grained fragments called grus.
Because there are many different kinds of granite and weathering can happen in many different ways, you’ll also see many varieties of decomposed granite.
While it may seem that the smaller, less robust particles are not as useful as their original form, these make it more versatile in many ways.
When it comes to gardening and landscaping, decomposed granite has grown in popularity in recent years. It is primarily used for patios as walkways, in driveways, or paths. It is likewise used for many other landscaping surfaces.
The availability of many different colors lets homeowners choose the style and design they’d like for your homes.
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What are the Types of Decomposed Granite?
Like other types of hardscapes, decomposed granite comes in a wide variety. It is available in different sized particles, colors and styles.
Additionally, you want to pay special attention to the 3 main forms of decomposed granite. These are:
- Natural decomposed granite
- Stabilized decomposed granite
- Resin coated decomposed granite
I’ll explain each one below.
Natural Decomposed Granite
Natural decomposed granite is also called loose decomposed granite. It is the cheapest of the three kinds. And, it is composed of granite aggregates. But, without additives.
This makes it a good choice for landscaping patios, kids’ play areas, paths and areas for sports.
It also works well as a form of non-organic mulch because it does not contain any additives. This means you can spread it over your plants, grass, shrubs and even trees.
When you do, natural decomposed granite will continue to experience weathering. And, as it breaks down, it will provide nutrients to your soil.
Natural DG is also a good choice for landscaping that you want to drain well. This is because it is not a completely solid surface. Thus, is it more permeable. This means there are small air pockets that will allow both moisture and oxygen to pass through.
That said, if natural DG is compacted well, it becomes very hard. This allows you to use it for driveways, walkways and patio surfaces.
Stabilized Decomposed Granite
However, a better option to natural decomposed granite for patios and paths is stabilized decomposed granite. That’s because the addition of stabilizers work as a binder. This makes it stronger and harder than natural decomposed granite.
It is worth noting that stabilized decomposed is more expensive than natural DG. But, it is still a more cost effective option to other aggregates and pavers.
Nevertheless you get your money’s worth since stabilized decomposed granite will last longer and requires less maintenance. The added stability makes it a better choice if you need a harder surface. This also makes it less prone to erosion compared to natural DG.
Stabilized DG is often used together with another kind of gravel, which is placed below it.
Resin-Coated Decomposed Granite
Resin coated decomposed granite is ideal for driveways. It is permeable and looks similar to asphalt but gives you a more natural look. Resin-coated DG is also the most robust of the three types and will last longer. It is also more stable.
The latter makes it ideal for roads and surfaces like roads since it does not erode nor does it wear down.
What are the Best Ways to Use Decomposed Granite?
The best way to use decomposed granite is on paths, garden walkways, xeriscaping, driveways, kids’ play areas and patio surfaces.
The material gives you a lovely landscaping that is natural looking and has a rustic feel. Plus, it is very affordable compared to other materials. It is likewise easy to repair.
Another advantage of using it in your yard is that it breaks down. This prevents any problems from any decomposed granite that end up in your lawn or garden beds. Such is not the case for gravel.
In urban areas, you’ll see it used in parks, bocce playgrounds and some walking paths with heavy foot traffic.
One thing worth noting with DG is that it sticks to shoes and footwear.
As such there will be small particles under the soles of your feet when you walk over it. This means if you have wooden floors or delicate surfaces in your home, the small DG particles could end up scratching the surface.
So, to make sure that this does not happen, it is very important not to install DG near areas where you enter your home or car.
Having some kind of surface between the decomposed granite and the doorstep, be it concrete, grass or anything else will scrape off the DG before you get to your home or vehicle.
How to Install Decomposed Granite
I am a gardener. And, as much as I’ve seen decomposed granite laid down a couple of times, I’m not going to pretend that I know how to install it or create a walkway, driveway or path from it.
Nevertheless, I still believe that it is very useful to see how the actual process is done. And, that you can likewise do it yourself with a little help from your friends if you have some landscaping experience unde your belt.
The video below shows you the entire process of installing decomposed granite. It includes explanations in between each step to help you understand.
Below is another video that I love that shows you how to create a DIY pathway in your front of backyard using decomposed granite.
And, while it does take a little bit of work, I must say that the end result is worth the time and effort.
How Much Does Decomposed Granite Cost?
Decomposed granite costs between $40 or $75 per cubic yard. It is available in in landscape supply stores. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of searching and visiting the landscaping stores one by one, another option is drop by Lowes or Home Depot. Both carry a variety of DG options you can choose from.
In most cases, you’ll also need to hire a contractor who has experience in laying down the DG for the path or patio you want.
The installation cost comes out to about $4 to $6 per square foot. Of course, the final amount will vary depending on where you live and what kind of contractor you get. Some will charge higher than others.
Also, the price will change depending on the conditions of the area you want to have landscaped. Similarly, adding stabilizers tacks on some cost as well. Stabilized products will cost about 50% to 100% more than those that are not stabilized.
From above, you know that you can install the DG yourself. This is assuming that you have some kind of landscaping experience. It would be a shame to mess up a perfectly good yard just to save money.
That said, the costs of doing the DG landscaping yourself cuts the price by around 50%.
Other factors that will affect the overall price of the material and installation include:
- Transportation – how much you need and how far is your home from where they’ll move the DG
- Depth – depending on what kind of landscaping and surface you’re creating, the depth can easily vary from 2.5 feet to 4 feet. This is multiplied by the surface area you want to cover. Thus, the larger and deeper the landscaping project, the more costly it will get.
- Edging and barriers – edging is needed in the perimeter of the decomposed granite area. The material of the edging and installation will also affect the price.
- Weed barrier – this will keep weeds from growing. Contractors will use landscaping fabric and place it between the ground and the DG to prevent weeds.
Decomposed granite has become a popular hardscape because of its cost, natural look and versatility. It is a good option if you don’t have to use gravel for your path, patio or even driveway.
But, like any landscaping job, it is very important to do the research beforehand because you might miss certain aspects of the material or the final cost may jump at you if you make the wrong decisions.
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