Most homes or gardens have some kind of gravel; in pathways, driveways, drains, or simply as an accent. The kind of gravel you choose depends on the project and the surrounding landscape.
There are two major categories when it comes to gravel, crushed stone and river rock. Crushed stone is often made from granite or limestone that is broken down into a specific size. River rock is exactly what it sounds like, stones that have been worn smooth and round by a river or other source of water. Both types of gravel come in a variety of sizes, all with different purposes.
Pea gravel is the common name for the smaller river rocks. It’s a popular choice for walkways and patios, places with high foot traffic. The small size makes it easy to walk on without compromising drainage, and it comes in a variety of colors making it a more popular choice for visible areas. Larger river rocks, anywhere from golf ball to football size, are often used to make dry creek beds to help with drainage because they look more natural than a concrete slide. They are also used as accents around artificial ponds, garden beds, and pathways. Recently, river rock has become popular in showers and around drains, used like tiles to create a natural and textured look.
Crushed stone has standardized categories, depending on the size of the stones and their use. Some of the most popular are 89 stone, 57 stone, crusher run, and rip rap. #89 stone is the pea gravel of crushed stone: very small, usually less than ⅜”, and mostly used for high traffic areas.
Both 89 stone and 57 stone are considered ‘clean’ gravels because they are roughly the same size and don’t contain much dust. This means that they are both good to use with drainage, however the 57 stone is best. The larger gaps between the stones allow water through easily. The 57 stone is also the preferred base for concrete and asphalt.
Crusher run, on the other hand, is not a ‘clean’ gravel. It’s a mix of several different sizes of stones and stone dust. The variety of size means that the stones lock together and form a non-permeable layer. This is great for driveways because it helps it last longer and is less likely to shift when walked on.
Rip rap is basketball sized stones used to shore up river banks. Their angular shapes help them to lock together and hold the banks in place, even during storms or flooding.
There are more sizes and combinations of both river rocks and crushed stone, more that will fit in a single article. Finding the right kind of gravel can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t give up and don’t be afraid to call Suzanne or Jason for help on your project.