If you want a paved surface that's easy to install, loose paving materials, such as gravel or decomposed granite (d.g., as we affectionately refer to it in the business), are the way to go. However, don't apply loose materials to slopes where they can slide downhill and be dangerous to walk on; they're only meant for level or nearly level ground.
(ttNG/ Many people put a layer of weed control fabric under the gravel. This practice isn't such a great idea because weeds come in from the top, their roots grow through the fabric, and they become impossible to pull out, making spraying with herbicides necessary. Also, gravel dust can change your soil chemistry enough to harm plants. Wash the gravel off before using it. Do this on a paved area where the sediment can be trapped within a ring of straw wattles and swept up when dry for safe disposal. Be sure that only clean water runs off the area.
To construct your paved surface, prepare your subgrade, paying attention to where the water will go during rains. Then place your gravel or d.g. on the subgrade. For gravel or crushed rock, use no more than a 1-inch-thick layer in most cases; deeper gravel can be difficult to walk on.
Decomposed granite goes on 3 to 4 inches deep. Excavate the soil to accommodate the material or install header boards made of recycled plastic lumber so that the d.g. is entirely or partially above grade. Place the d.g. and grade it level with a rake, then wet it with a hose and compact it with a water-filled lawn roller so it will stay in place. Unlike gravel, d.g. forms a pretty solid surface. Many people mix portland cement or special stabilizing agents with the loose d.g. before they place and compact it; this technique helps it last longer but also makes it impracticable to reuse the material.
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