Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gardening Tip of the Week - Natural Landscape Materials

Natural materials, such as decomposed granite, can enhance the beauty and functionality of a garden. I use decomposed granite for pathways and open areas throughout my garden. 


This year, I widened part of a pathway in the backyard to create a more open feel to the garden. 

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In the front yard, I created a front porch effect with decomposed granite on both sides of the front door. 

I made my first decomposed granite pathways four years ago. When I was ready to complete the projects above and add pathways along the sides of my garden this year, I returned to the same bulk landscaping materials dealer for more. 

I expected the new decomposed granite to look a little different from the old because it fades a little due to exposure to sun and weather. Unfortunately, the new decomposed granite had a different color, texture, and higher clay content. It turns out that my dealer changed from a supplier in Marble Falls, Texas to a supplier in Oklahoma. 


This is a shot of my old granite from Marble Falls. The material had a pinkish tint and looked like crushed granite.


This is a picture of the decomposed granite from OK that I purchased earlier this year. This decomposed granite originally had more of a golden brown color and faded once washed to light pinkish orange. This decomposed granite has a fine texture and a very high clay content. I was able to get several truckloads over the course of a couple months, but I had to remove a layer of existing decomposed granite from my pathways and replace it with the new decomposed granite to have some consistency through the garden. I used the layer of old decomposed granite that was removed from the pathways as a base for the new pathways. Just when I was about finished with my projects and needed two more truckloads of decomposed granite, my supplier ran out. When I returned the following week, the decomposed granite was a bright golden yellow color!


Ugh! This really does not match. Fortunately, I still had a pile of the decomposed granite that I had been buying over the last few weeks in the driveway, so I used the new yellow stuff as a based and covered it with the decomposed granite that was in the driveway. But I still needed one more load.

I decided to try a different bulk supplier in Plano. They had two piles of decomposed granite. A pink pile and a yellow pile. The pink pile looked similar to what I had and they said it came from OK, so I took a chance. Well, it was a rosy pink and not a match. 


To get some consistency through the garden, I colorized all of my decomposed granite with a thin layer of the rosy pink stuff.


This is the side yard connecting to the backyard.


Opening the gate and looking into the front yard, the pathways are fairly similar in color. The flagstones at the gate are a bunny barrier. They love to get into the backyard.


Looking the opposite direction from the front yard into the backyard. 



So this week's gardening tip is to remember that natural materials are, well, natural and will have natural variations in color, size, and consistency. If at all possible, get all of the material that you think you will need at one time to improve your odds of having consistent material. Also remember that your supplier may change material sources which can also result in variations in material.

Next time, I think I will use pea gravel because it always seems to be the same size and color.

11 comments:

  1. Well done, mate. I love it. I really like that material and I'm glad I made a choice similar to yours in picking gravel/pebbles to cover the paths and wide areas in my garden. That gravel comes from nearby rivers (this part of Italy has Karst, so we have a lot of apparently dried out rivers). Fortunately the material doesn't change as much as yours.

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    1. Thanks Alberto. I looked up karst. Looks like it is probably a limestone material.

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  2. Wow...it's always amazing how things like that happen...and you just can't plan on them all! I'm glad you seemed to find a good solution, even it it was more of a hassle.

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    1. You have to roll with the punches, although, probably nobody would notice or pay much attention to the different colors of decomposed granite but me.

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  3. That's a lot of work to get it consistent but it did pay off in the long run. The yellow OK granite makes a better base so it's good you found the pink TX granite to put on top.

    I ended up putting pea gravel over the DG out by the street to keep the weeds down. If you do think you want pea gravel I'd recommend a small test area first. We did a small test and decided it doesn't work for us on a large scale.

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    1. The long run is relative, Shirley. If I ever need to dig into the decomposed granite, I will surely start mixing the layers of colors.

      I hope I never need to worry about getting pea gravel, but I will take your advice if I do. I am sure it scatters more than decomposed granite too.

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  4. Michael, at least you have close access to DG. I live nearly 60 miles from the nearest supplier. Sometimes rural living has it`s drawbacks. I really like it, in your garden and Shirley`s, too. I think it would be great in this sandy soil. You did a great job of blending it. That is hard work.

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    1. Yes, I have at least two bulk suppliers in town and it is available in bags at HD. But you have all of the other advantages of country living, including plant collecting excursions and room to grow them without worring about what the neighbors think. Thanks for the comment, Randy.

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  5. the problem with pea gravel is its round and just kind of rolls around instead of packing. It least thats been my expierence. Love the granite, can only get limestone here, but it is consistent.,

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    1. True. I would probably need edging around the pathways if I used pea gravel. Limestone would be the ecological way for me to go since it is more local. The drawbacks for me are that it is a larger stone than the granite and it is white.

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  6. Looks great ! Although I feel your pain with the different colors - i'd grit my teeth a little over that. You came up with a wonderful solution :)

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