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Gravels

Gravels

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Published by mohsin

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: mohsin on May 03, 2010
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05/03/2010

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.

Some definitions
Gravel refers to small stones, generally 5-30mm in diameter, that may be angular or

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.

See the Gravel Gallery for more examples of popular British and Irish gravels.
Peagravel refers to a well-rounded gravel, usually in the
5-10mm size range. It is a popular bedding material for
laying drainage pipes.
Self-binding Gravel is a specific blend of aggregates that
gives a semi-bound finish. This is considered in more
detail on a separate page.
Typical Pea Gravel
Cinders and Ash refer to the burnt fuel residue from power stations. It is not as freely

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.

Introduction
Hoggin is the term given to a mixture of clays, sands and gravels to form a material that

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

t
, but it is
popular in the south and east of England.
Crag is a crushed shell product, popular in the south-east of England and East Anglia. It is
said to be less prone to being picked up by foot traffic and is a popular surfacing for horse
arenas and in the Royal Parks, apparently. Colour depends on shell type.
Gravel as ground
cover
Hoggin
Crag laid over a sub-
base
Gravels and other surface dressings provide a relatively simple path structure at a low cost.
Highly decorative (and costly) aggregates may be used just as well as cheap cinders or
limestone chippings. Surface dressing aggregates are ideal for garden paths, and with a
good sub-base, they can provide a large drive quickly and at minimal expense.
Wha
S
ize?
One of the most frequently asked questions about gravel surfacing is "What size gravel
should I use?"

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!

The sizes of other surface dressing aggregates is less critical
rden
h
eG
a
In T

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.

Once the plant is in its final position and backfilled with soil, the landscape fabric can be
trimmed as required and the gravel pushed back around the plant.
C
onstruction
There are 3 layers to a typical gravel pavement, as a bedding layer is not required. The
A 10mm and a
6mm Gravel

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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