Just How Much Landscaping Rock Do I Need?

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How much landscaping rock do i need

If you’re considering upgrades, additions, or even a total overhaul to your yard, you have a lot of decisions to make. From features to plants to pathways, quite a few different elements have to all be considered and balanced with and even against one another. Once you get down to the nitty-gritty, you have to start answering specific questions you ask yourself. One of them is likely to be just how much landscaping rock do I need?

Things to Ensure When Using Landscaping Rocks

Small rocks are useful in landscaping and gardening in many different applications. One of those applications is for pathways, but you might also use them simply as mulch. When you order landscaping rock, you have to be sure that you get just the right amount. Too little will leave bare spots. On the other hand, if you buy excess, you waste money and either need to find a place for them or get rid of them.

Accurate calculations of how much rock you need are based on getting the right measurements from your yard, so you can then figure out how much you need to buy. Landscaping rock is typically sold in measurements of cubic yards, and you can find it in both bags and bulk.

Tools Needed to Calculate How Much Rock is Needed

The tools you need are relatively simple, as you traditionally just need a measuring tape and a calculator. Fortunately, if you’re a smartphone owner, it probably has a calculator app included. You might even find apps for measuring physical distances.

Having said that, they’re relatively new, and for something as important as this (and the dollars you will spend on it), it’s probably safest to do your own physical measurements.

Procedure to Calculate How Much Rock or Gravel is Needed

Step 1:

Go to the area you want to cover, and then stretch out your measuring tape to record the width of it. Mark this information in inches. Repeat this measurement for the length.

Step 2:

Do each measurement at least two or three times to be sure your numbers are accurate. Then, figure out how deep you want the rock to be. For cubic volume, you multiply the width times the length times the depth.

Doing your measurements initially in inches gives you precision measuring without having to deal with decimals and fractions initially, but you will need to eventually do that. The reason for this is because landscaping rock is typically sold in cubic yards.

Step 3:

Assume you have an area 60 inches in length and 50 inches in width, and you want to have rock 2 inches deep across this area. Divide all these numbers by 12 to convert your measurements to feet, meaning you now have a length of 5 feet, a width of 4.1667 feet, and the desired depth of 0.1667 feet.

Step 4:

Multiplying all those together gives you a total volume of 3.4729 cubic feet. In order to convert that to cubic yards, you need to know that each cubic yard has 27 cubic feet in it.

That means you divide your 3.4729 inches by 27 to get 0.1286 cubic yards. Helpfully, there are many online calculators that can help you with this, and you can also usually have a garden center or landscaping supplier employee look over your notes and double-check your math. They don’t want to sell you more or less than you need.

Procedure to Calculate Rock Needed to Fill a Circular Area

If you want to fill a circular area, then the only measurement you need is the radius. That’s the distance from the center point of the circle all the way out to its outer edge. You would multiply the radius by itself, before multiplying again by 3.14 to get your area.

If, for the time being, you just want a general rule of thumb for some quick and easy budget calculations, then assume one yard of rock can cover 100 square feet around 2 inches. You don’t want to do specific planning by this rule, but it’s useful in perhaps determining the scope, scale, and financial feasibility of your landscaping ambitions.

Tips for Laying Decorative Rocks for Landscaping

If you do intend to use landscape rock as mulch, do so only in beds that are home to plants who only need minimal moisture. Good examples are alpine plants and cacti.

Also, install barriers around the areas you fill with a landscape rock, especially if they are next to an open lawn. You want to keep rock in its designated areas so it won’t fall into your lawn and cause damage to mowing equipment.

Things to Ensure When Buying Gravel and Landscape Rocks

1. Using Decorative Rocks

When you shop for landscape rock, you should know that it’s sometimes labeled as a decorative rock. Use it to frame landscape design elements or make walkways and borders. It’s also a great way to offset water features. Decorative rock gives your landscape a bit of visual gravity, and it’s available in many different sizes, kinds, colors, and textures.

2. Grading the Area Properly Before Laying Down the Rocks

Before you lay down the rock, be sure that any area you intend to fill is already properly graded. If not, make sure that it is. If you don’t see this, then the weight of the rock might result in drainage issues.

3. Common Dimensions of Rocks

As stated earlier, there are many different sizes of decorative rock. However, common dimensions you can typically find on the market start at 1/4 and 3/8 inch before moving up through a midrange of 1/2 and 3/4 inch to even 1 and 1 1/4 inch sizes.

4. Can be Delivered in Bulk or Small Quantities

Decorative rock can be delivered to you in bulk, usually via a dump truck. However, small quantities, especially pea gravel and pebbles, can be found in bagged form.

You can have a qualified contractor install the rock, or you can do it yourself. Small-scale installations like require good work gloves, sturdy boots or shoes, a durable wheelbarrow, and both round- and flat-nose shovels.

5. Determining the Depth of Decorative Rocks

If you’re having a hard time determining what depth of decorative rock you should have, the typical installation is around 2 inches, which is why that measurement was used in the above example.

When it comes time to order rock, try to get it all at once. Different batches aren’t going to all match in color exactly. Rock is, of course, a natural product, and variations are going to happen in the shades and hues.

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