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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Granite rock naturally breaks down into 1/4-inch or smaller particles called decomposed granite. Loose decomposed granite packs well and provides excellent drainage, making it an ideal mulching material for garden beds, but it is susceptible to erosion and must be maintained often. Stabilized decomposed granite has a stabilizer added to the granite and is used for high traffic areas such as patios, walkways and driveways. Decomposed granite with resin has a surface finish similar to asphalt that is durable and will not erode, so it is ideal for high traffic areas.
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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Laying Decomposed GraniteLaying decomposed granite is a fairly quick process. First, the area where the DG paving will be laid will be excavated. Then, a weed barrier, such as landscaping fabric, should be laid down and landscape edging should be installed around the perimeter. Next, the DG will be placed and compacted. At this point, your patio, walkway or driveway is ready to be used. Depending on the type of decomposed granite you installed you may need to rake and replenish the surface periodically. For this reason it is good to keep some extra decomposed granite of the same color on hand.
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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Whether for driveways or to surround trees, crushed or decomposed granite can be a versatile material that prevents weed growth and makes an outdoor space more appealing. These two are not the same material, though. It’s important to note that crushed granite tends to have sharp edges and shapes. Decomposed granite is natural as it decomposes over time and is not as sturdy as crushed granite. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of crushed or decomposed granite, how much to budget, and whether it is the right choice for your property.
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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Decomposed Granite and RainWhen thinking about installing a decomposed granite patio or other paved surface in your yard, it is important to consider your climate. Decomposed granite can successfully be used as a paving material in areas like California that have little rainfall. If you live in a place that gets a considerable amount of rain, DG may be a poor choice because it will erode and turn mushy and muddy.

Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Stabilized Decomposed Granite – Stabilized DG has a stabilizer mixed in with the granite aggregates. Compared to loose DG, stabilized DG is more expensive, but it’s still less money than pavers, decorative concrete and natural stone. Once spread and compacted, DG with a stabilizer will look similar to loose DG, with the top layer appearing loose and organic. However, stabilized decomposed granite will be less susceptible to erosion. As a result, it has a longer life span and requires less maintenance than loose DG. Many landscaping companies will deliver DG with a stabilizer already mixed in.
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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Decomposed granite, or DG, is made up of granite aggregates a 1/4″ or smaller. Sometimes DG is so fine that it resembles sand. Decomposed granite is the least expensive way to pave a patio, walkway, or driveway. DG provides a natural, rustic look and is available in subtle hues of gray, tan and brown.
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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

Loose Decomposed Granite – Loose DG, the least expensive type, is simply the granite aggregates, without any additives. Uses for loose DG include landscape mulching, garden paths, patios, play areas and sports courts. Since it is not a solid surface, loose DG provides excellent drainage. Once compacted, a patio or walkway covered with lose DG will be fairly hard. However, loose DG is easily affected by erosion and will need to be filled in often. Avoid laying loose DG near your house because it is easy to track inside, which can be quite messy and may damage hardwood flooring. During the winter, when rain is frequent, loose decomposed granite paving will become mushy and muddy.
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Decomposed Granite Landscaping

With a remodel and a garden design project underway, I’ve been researching how to simplify garden maintenance and cut back on water usage. And I keep hearing more and more about the advantages of decomposed granite. Why? It turns out that in many ways decomposed granite (or DG, as it’s commonly called) is the ideal hardscape material: natural, permeable, aesthetically versatile, and wonderfully inexpensive.
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After I started looking into DG, I began to notice it everywhere: The pretty little path through the local recreation field that never gets muddy? Decomposed granite. The soft, natural-looking driveway, where the surface stays put? Also decomposed granite. The mulch at the base of trees that keeps the ground weed-free?  DG again.
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Decomposed Granite with Resin – This is the most costly type of decomposed granite. Resin is added to the DG, creating a surface similar to asphalt. Sometimes called poly pavement, DG with resin is the strongest and most durable DG option, making it great for driveways and high traffic areas. The look will not be as natural as loose or stabilized DG, but it will be much more durable. Pavements made with DG and resin will not erode or be tracked away. One downside to selecting the resin option is that the drainage is nowhere near as good as loose or stabilized DG.
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Tip Decomposed granite works well as mulch because it provides minerals to plants. Although some replacement and maintenance is necessary as a result of loose decomposed granite erosion, it doesn’t break down as quickly as organic mulches, such as shredded bark mulch, which require frequent reapplication.
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Decomposed granite is like gravel, but finer and generally more stable.  It’s formed from the natural weathering and erosion of solid granite, a tough, hard, igneous rock. The DG sold as landscaping material is typically composed of fine 3/8-inch (or smaller) particles; some may be no bigger than a grain of sand. Colors vary, from buff to brown, and include various shades of gray, black, red, and green.
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This is the easiest and least expensive application. The material is made up of granite aggregates from 1/4″ to very fine granules resembling sand. There are no additives; the material is used alone. Typically, a three to four inch gravel road base is laid (as in all of the various applications) and the decomposed granite is laid on top of this layer, which is then compacted. This application is fairly hard. However, it is subject to erosion, and therefore must be replenished periodically.
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When house flippers tackle a yard they tend towards the “low-maintenance” landscape (in quotes because there’s no such thing as a low-maintenance garden). One of the favorite tools in the flipper landscaping toolbox is decomposed granite (DG) used as a mulch. Put some plastic landscape fabric down (blocks rainwater in our climate, fyi) and top that plastic with DG. They then punch some holes in the DG/plastic and pop in succulents and maybe a rosemary bush or two. By the time the yard becomes a sad, desertified tangle of unhappy succulents and crabgrass, the flippers are long gone.
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Anyone still on the fence about the utility or look of crushed granite might be pleased to learn that it comes in a variety of sizes and colors to best fit in with a property’s design or style. Generally, the most affordable options are a gray color, but an increasing number of suppliers are selling crushed granite in bolder hues like red or even blue. However, buyers should be prepared to pay extra, as much as twice as much, to purchase colored rock.
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I had to completely redo some of the otherwise wonderful river rock garden work in a section of our japanese landscaped front yard (the previous owners having been, in fact, japanese-american landscape designers) because of disovering the dreaded layer of decaying plastic lurking underneath the whole shebang. And yes, the cure for that, plus the dirt-only underneath much of the landscaping in the backyard has been refreshing the woodchip mulch layer about twice a year. The water usage has gone way down, the soil quality way up, the plants much happier, much easier to weed. Happier for the worms and birds. And this year – the squirrels are happily harvesting baseball-sized mouthfuls-at-a-time of our shredded mulch for nesting material.

Oh man…I’ve been on the receiving end of this landscape flipping ruse..we apparently weren’t thorough enough when evaluating the landscaping of our new prospective house. What we thought was a layer of Wood Mulch And Plastic (bad, but easy enough to remove – plus we could reuse the mulch!) actually turned out to be WMAP placed over a LOAD of topsoil that was dumped over that horrible pink landscape rock, which in turn had dessicated vintage landscape plastic beneath. I swear they had a layer of rock 10″ deep in some spots, compacted with the topsoil. The tortured shrubs were absolutely starved. After 2 years and a lot of pick axing, we’ve ALMOST gotten it all dug out…
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Further research on mulches and termites is warranted to determine if we should be concerned about using mulch around houses. Also, research is needed on possible repellent mulches such as melaleuca which might serve as an additional barrier for household protection against termites. At this time the benefits of mulches such as water conservation, reduced used of herbicides, and reduced soil erosion are very apparent while the risks to termite infestations due to mulches are unknown. Homeowners will continue to use mulches in landscaping around their houses and buildings. Our current recommendation is to be vigilant and up-to-date with termite inspection and treatment.

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