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Landscape Design Idea: Decomposed Granite Pathways

On June 20, 2012

European and Rustic Garden Style

Decomposed granite or “D.G.” is a great choice for a natural pathway material. It compacts well, looks good in rustic gardens and has been used for centuries throughout Europe. And compared to concrete or pavers, it  is relatively inexpensive and much easier to install.

Enjoy D.G. Pathways for Years to Come

Follow proper installation techniques to create a pathway or patio that will stand the test of time. The trick is to properly compact the different materials in each step.
Before you begin, think about where you want the water to drain off your path or patio and grade accordingly. You can crown the center of the area and sheet the water off to the sides or slope the surface off to one side to provide the necessary drainage.

  1. First excavate the area you have marked out to allow for 4 inches of base material and 2 inches of D.G. minimum. If you expect heavy vehicle traffic in this area you will need to increase the base and D.G. amounts accordingly. For now we will assume this is for pedestrian traffic only.
  2. Before you add the base course, install any piping that may be needed in or through this area for irrigation, lighting, electrical, and so on.
    Note: The use of a weed fabric can weaken the stability of the base materials and not allow for optimum compaction, so I do not encourage using it underneath the base. If you use the recommended process stated here you should have very little trouble with weeds.
  3. Using a mechanical vibrating plate (available at rental stores), compact the existing soil and then add the 4-inch base course. The base course can be simple Class 2 road base or crushed granite. Lay the base material down, then level, wet and compact making at least two passes with the vibrating plate.
  4. Finally, add your layer of D.G. at least 2 inches deep.
  5. Level, wet, and compact the surface again, making at least two passes. Rake the area smooth after each pass of the compactor to even the surface.

Choosing a Border for Your D.G. Landscape Design

There are many border options available for decomposed granite areas, including concrete, plastic, aluminum, rock and railroad ties. You can also omit a border altogether to achieve a more natural look in your garden.

A word of caution: I do not recommend using decomposed granite near an entry door to your home as it can adhere to the treads of your shoes and get tracked in, damaging soft flooring surfaces such as wood, bamboo and cork.

Garden Design – Desert Garden photo gallery
Houzz – an article on Mediterranean Garden Style

Tell Me About Your DG Project

Are you looking for a new pathway material to use in your garden? Or maybe you have some experience installing DG in your own landscape design? I would love to hear your comments below and am always happy to answer any questions you may have.