There is a wide and ever-expanding menu of aggregates that can be used as a surface
dressing and so, to avoid overcomplicating the subject and repeating the same information
over and over again, the term "gravel" will be used throughout these notes. The principles
and properties discussed apply equally to cinders, ash, hoggin, or any of the other
aggregates discussed, except that the coverage rates given below may be slightly different.
rounded. Angular gravels are usually sourced from quarries, a by-product of the crushing
processes, whereas rounded gravels are from a fluvial source, such as an old river bed,
beaches, and channel dredging. Gravels can be of almost any colour, depending on the
parent rock type, or even a multi-coloured blend.
available as it once was. Pulverised Fly Ash (PFA) is generally too light and the grain size too small to be much use as a surface dressing, but other ash residues and cinders are available in some areas. Colour is usually black, blue-black or deep red.
compacts well and provides a usable, stable surface at low cost. There is some variation in colour but it is predominantly" buff". We don't have this 'hoggin' in t'north of Britain, nor in Ireland, as we've far more sense and a much better selection of self-binding gravels
The gravels most commonly used as a loose surface dressing
are in the 6-20mm size range. Anything less than 6mm is
more akin to a grit and is too easily disturbed; anything over
18-20mm can be difficult to walk upon. In general, the
smaller 6-10mm gravels would be used for footpaths and
the 10-18mm gravels for driveways, but it really is a matter
of personal taste. One deciding factor could be that, the
smaller the gravel, the more the cats like to use it as a toilet!
There is also some demand for gravel to be used as a surface for areas of gardens, such as in
the currently popular 'Mediterranean-style' gardens. In these circumstances, plants are
often placed randomly within the area of gravel, and so it is essential that a reasonable top-
soil exists beneath the gravel to provide nourishment and anchorage for the plants.
We use a different construction for garden ground cover to that illustrated below for paths
and drives. The amount of excavation is reduced to a minimum, and usually consists of little
more than skimming off the surface vegetation. Once the chosen area has been dug-off, and
any edgings installed, a permeable landscape fabric is laid out over the entire area. In
breezy conditions, it may be helpful to weigh down the landscape fabric with bricks or
similar, until the gravel has been barrowed in and placed.
The gravel is brought in, spread to a thickness of
30-40mm with a rake, and then compacted with a
vibrating plate compactor. Once this is complete,
the plants can be positioned as required throughout
the gravelled area and re-arranged until the desired
effect is acheived. Once the distribution and spacing
of the plants is satisfactory, the gravel can be
scraped aside from where each plant is to go, the
landscape fabric slit cross-wise with a knife,
allowing access to the underlying top-soil, and the
planting hole prepared.
as they tend to "come as they are". Ash and cinders are
usually pulverised at source to eliminate any clag that may
be over 25mm in size; hoggin is graded to contain only small
gravels (usually under 10mm) with the clay binder.
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