Re: Green Roads: Gravel
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 1998 00:34:26 -0500
Probably the "coney pea" gravel the person in Georgia is referring to is 
similar to what we call "quarry fines", which is a small gravel which is 
angular, and therefore will pack in quite densely under use. 

A rounded gravel tends to "smush" as you walk on it, sort of like walking 
on sand. 

Of course the more densely it packs, the less permeable it becomes. It 
won't be as impermeable as asphalt, but it will also be less absorptive 
than, say, grass in dirt. 

A tightly-packed gravel path, like we have for our principal pedestrian 
paths at RoseWind, will stand up well to pedestrian traffic, on a fairly 
flat area. Bicycles tend to move the gravel more, and can cause more 
disruption to the surface. On slopes, gravity helps the gravel move 
downhill. There is a sloped area near my house where the path just won't 
stay gravelled, between gravity and bicycles. Surface water flows will 
also gully gravel, so watch drainage, and install culverts or such if 

Weeds will grow up through gravel, unless it is very deep (a few inches) 
and has a barrier underneath as well. The heavy-duty fabric-type weed 
barrier cloth will work, to a degree, even under a more shallow bed of 
gravel. But some weeds will grow through it (and can then hook their 
roots under the cloth, making them very hard to pull!) and , if the 
gravel is shallow the cloth makes it more slippery underneath, and the 
gravel tends to move more, and even sort of sheet off on a slope. For 
weeds, it helps if you do a thorough job of removing grass roots and such 
before laying the path (the pros use poison as well -- don't know if 
there is an eco-acceptable product that would be effective). The weeds 
that come up anyway are enough of a pain to keep after. 

So-- if you think gravel,
a)  think angular, check with a pro for the appropriate mix of coarse and 
fine, if you want the result to "pack", 
b) think if you want edging of some sort to stop the gravel as it spreads 
out sideways
c) check drainage to avoid gullying after a big rain
d) plan ahead to minimize weeds coming through -- the extra time, money, 
or materials will be worth it in the long run

Lynn at RoseWind, Port Townsend WA
where our last few lots are available --- we would especially welcome 
young families with children. 

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