Razzle, Dazzle, Magically Travel Gravel… to the Side Yard!

Posted on February 4, 2013. Filed under: Gardening, Home |

Sometimes ambition can be problematic, especially when your ambition results in a 4-ton pile of gravel in your driveway which must be moved if you want to get your car out of the garage. Oopsies.

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Speaking of problematic… We ordered 2 types of gravel which were delivered in the same dump truck – it was cheaper this way. The driver did a relatively good job of not mixing the gravel, but there was still quite a bit of sortin’ to do!

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So Mom, Mason, and I plopped down on our mini mountain of rocks and began the process of sorting. Well, Mason tried to eat the rocks. I swear. There’s more Labrador in him than Poodle. While we sorted, I reminisced about playing with pea gravel in my grandparents’ backyard. They had a walkway to their screened porch filled with pea gravel. I would go out there with plastic cups and play in it like it was sand. Kids these days with their X boxes and iPads; I had plastic cups and rocks. Pfsh! After about 45 minutes, we had most of the slate chips and the river rock in their respective piles. Sweet. Not so sweet if you just painted your nails. Sorting rocks is hell on a manicure.

The river rock will fill in the existing parking pad. The pad already has river rock and we didn’t want to change it up.

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We are also building wide steps/terraces down this side of the house and filling them with the river rock for water run-off and to prevent the rocks from traveling into the backyard. We don’t want to keep adding more rock if we don’t have to. The river rock/wide terrace project is just beginning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The slate chips are for the other side of the house and will serve the same purpose: to keep our backyard from getting washed away. We chose slate chips over river rock because we liked the look of them and they were cheaper. Since they are on the other side of the house, we didn’t think it mattered much to have matching rocks.

Since this post is all about the left side of the house and the slate chips, I will give you a little more detail on the problems over here, our genius (not really) idea for how to fix them, how we did it, and life post-gravel.

The Steps:

1. Research. We looked at a lot of rocks online to see what we liked in pictures. We paid attention to the water run-off when we received heavy rains to see where our problem areas were.

  • Down spout eruptus: We have a down spout off of the back of the house that shoots water out at an alarming rate when it rains. It floods the area around it and flows down the hill into the natural valley we have between the patio and the wooded area in our yard. There are a couple of things we could do to fix this: (1) rain barrel, (2) bury a flexi pipe all the way down the hill and have it empty near the trees, (3) spread out a bunch of gravel.
  • Flat area next to the house: With the down spout off the back and another on the side emptying into a very flat area right next to our house, it was a swamp land. Having a swamp with a furry dog… bad idea.

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  • The gate. The gate stretched across the swamp. Whenever it rained, the gate would get caked in mud. Not a huge deal, but not pretty either.

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In reference to the down spout situation above, we haven’t ruled out a rain barrel. But because we had multiple problems, we decided to go for the gravel first.

2. Measure, price out gravel, go look at rocks in person at a landscape supply place, order ‘dem rocks. This is pretty self-explanatory. Like I said before, we decided to have both types of rocks delivered at once to save some moolah.

3. Clear the area. We raked out all of the pine straw and pulled weeds where we wanted to put the gravel. There was also a collection of landscaping pavers by the chimney.

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4. Install the edging. We bought aluminum edging at Lowes to contain the gravel. It was pretty easy to install and bends easily. Adam and I did this together.

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5. Bring in the gravel! Adam did 99% of the heavy lifting for this project. Poor guy. It cannot be fun to shovel gravel into a wheel barrow and then wheel that barrow down the front yard to the side yard, dump, repeat. I tried to shovel up some gravel into the wheel barrow for Adam. It was too heavy. Talk about a total body workout. So while Adam went back and forth loading and dumping and flexing his muscles, I took a stiff rake and used it to spread out the gravel.

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6. Spread the gravel. I learned pretty quickly that using the stiff rake to push the gravel into place was much more effective than pulling. I also used my feet and my hands. Mason helped by licking the rocks and sticking his whole face into 3” of rock. Then he helped by jumping up and yanking my work glove off and running across the yard with it. Fun times.

7. Hose it down. This is optional, but the rocks were so dirty and dusty that I wanted to give them a nice shower.

That’s it. It’s easy except for the hard labor.

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Leaves galore, but it looks so much better!

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It’s three months later and I am happy to report that the gravel is working perfectly! There is no swamp, there is no river, and there is no giant puddle underneath the down spout. I couldn’t be happier. The gate opens easily over the gravel and this area of the yard has a purpose.

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[…] Get gravel, stepping stones, and hedge borders to help with water on this side of the house – DONE. […]


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