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Old 07-11-2012, 11:52 PM   #1
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


House in Gilbert/Phoenix AZ, yard has an irrigation system but it has several damaged/broken sprinkler heads and who knows what other problems.

So rather than trying to get that fixed up and doing grass, I'm considering just doing the typical gravel/rock layer.

I'm just curious what kind of preparation would need to be done before putting down the rocks? I have seen the black plastic sheeting done but usually with grass/weeds just growing through it, so I'm wondering if it really serves a purpose?

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Old 07-12-2012, 07:56 AM   #2
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


Rocks and gravel just to avoid sprinkler repairs will dissapoint you. Perhaps not if you do some landscape design but most certainly if you just slap it down not to have to deal with growing things. You might look into drip irrigation. Much of it was developed in climates like yours. It is inexpensive and plants love it. You put water just where you want it and in Gallons per Hour not Gallons per Minute.

If you must go with rock, I would use QUALITY landscape cloth under it. It comes in different types and thicknesses. I don't like it for use in planted areas but it has its place.


Last edited by user1007; 07-12-2012 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 07-12-2012, 11:49 AM   #3
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


Yeah, it will look like...you just threw down a bunch of gravel. You get what you pay for. I guess we gotta support not growing grass where you are, but some kind of xeriscaping would be in order, at mimimum around the edges. To look good, probably needs a professional to lay it out but I don't know what that costs.

For the cloth, get industrial grade.

Alternatively, more description (& pictures!) of your situation could probably elicit better advice.
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:01 PM   #4
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


Quote:
Originally Posted by Head_Unit View Post
Yeah, it will look like...you just threw down a bunch of gravel. You get what you pay for. I guess we gotta support not growing grass where you are, but some kind of xeriscaping would be in order, at mimimum around the edges. To look good, probably needs a professional to lay it out but I don't know what that costs.

For the cloth, get industrial grade.

Alternatively, more description (& pictures!) of your situation could probably elicit better advice.
Landscape designers and landscape architects will vary in cost depending on how busy they are and where they are in their careers. I was head designer for a garden center that specialized in hanging baskets, container gardens, and intimate interior growing spaces, etc. They subsidizes what I charged customers and got the plant business. Some real nurseries still have designers on staff working under similar circumstances I presume.

As with other design pros, a landscape architect and landscape designer will have access to things the retail consumer does not. You may end up saving money working with one over trying to get things yourself retail.

Obviously nothing is helping much to move houses in the still depressed real estate market but any agent will tell you a well landscaped yard has a better chance than one slopped together. Usually you get money spent on landscaping back out and you will enjoy a nicely designed yard yourself.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:57 AM   #5
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


If rocks is the best solution, you could make it more interesting by installing some larger, flat boulders grouped together in key locations. You could also group smaller rocks together. How about laying out a path of stepping stones to add interest. You could even group some larger flat stones together and put some chairs on it. Adding sculpture would create a focal point. If you treat the whole front yard like a painting that you are creating, you will end up with something quite interesting.

Definintely lay down some landscape fabric first to keep the weeds down. The key is to not let any soil get in to allow weeds to grow.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:01 AM   #6
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


Some good ideas, I didn't know about the landscape fabric.

I'll try to get a picture of the yard up this afternoon just so you all can see what I'm going to be working with.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:08 AM   #7
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


I'm also considering rock or decomposed granite (DG) for my front yard and am interested in the responses here.

I know very little about landscaping but being a civil designer I frequently see landscape plans and I don't see the fabric called out much but instead about a 4" thick aggregate base course (AB) over subgrade, finished with a few inches of decomposed granite on top of the AB, with each layer being compacted.
But then again when I watch some of the shows on the DIY channel it seems like they regularly use the fabric under the DG.

What's the pros/cons of each?
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:39 AM   #8
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Considering gravel/rock for front yard


First off lets make sure we are talking about quality fabric as the cheap, thin stuff is an absolute waste of money. It gets brittle and tears within a season or two.

My issue with landscape cloth is that it does tear and chasing down where it is leaking is like chasing leaks in flat tar roofing. Good luck. You more or less have to move everything off of it and pull it all up when it starts to fail.

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