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River rock sizing for mulch replacement

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by ernie_h, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. ernie_h

    ernie_h LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    We recently had a drainage issue in the beds in front of the house addressed by having a contractor install a drainage system (multiple catch basins, interconnected and draining to the sides of the house). I'm going to cover the front beds with river rock. The only plantings are what's there now.....one large oak, a few Japanese maples, and a few low bushes. No more plantings will be added, maybe a few larger (1 man) boulders, any plantings will be potted.

    My question is, what size river rock to go with?? The ones in the pic are from a 4"-6" lot, and are there simply to hold the landscape fabric in place until I get the pins/staples in and tighten things up. Thought about making the swales (shallow, connecting to and running to the catch basins) into a "dry creek" look using different size/type of rock, but that's not practical with the way the various swales run. Right now, I'm thinking of just going with 1"-3" lots (or 2"-4", which I believe the local supplier carries) to cover the whole thing.

    I'd really appreciate any comments/suggestions [I kind of really did not want to do this myself, but my wife seemed to feel that I.....oops, we :)...could do this....unfortunately, all of the good landscape contractors we could find are quite a distance away and, for reasons I understand, have minimum charges for these 'long distance' projects.....one was quite honest with me and said they could do it, but their minimum charge was well over what the project would cost if done locally].


    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  2. Barnabas

    Barnabas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 117

    For that size area 2-4 or 4-6 would both work, it would come down to what you find more appealing. if it was my house id do 2-4"
  3. Gilmore.Landscaping

    Gilmore.Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 645

    Looking like you may be getting into a situation where you gets lots of leaves/seeds falling in that area. For this reason alone I would tend to go with a small stone as they tend to not hold the leaves and debris in the fall as much. (Easier to clean up with a blower)

    It may look better to create maybe 1 long dry creek area working its way across the entire space out of larger stones and the rest smaller. Smaller I mean 1-3".

    Around this area we typically use a 4-6 as the larger stones but this does catch alot of dedris and can be harder to maintain.
  4. ernie_h

    ernie_h LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Thanks for the replies so far folks.....I'm leaning toward mostly the smaller rock as well (as you both suggested), with perhaps the larger stuff as a dry creek bed in some of the swales as G.L suggested [If I were to use it in all of the swales, it would appear more as 'veins' rather than a dry creek, if that makes sense]. G.L., good point about the leaves....since what you don't see in the pics is the lawn to the right (and beyond the end of the front walk) that has quite a few very mature post oaks.

    Out here, most of the suppliers are restricted (as far as decorative river rock) to Colorado or Arizona river rock. The 4"-6" ones in the pic are Colorado. One thought was to get the smaller rock in the darker Arizona, and use the larger Colorado as the dry creek (or the other way around.....I can use the rock in the pic elsewhere). We did a much smaller project on a prior house using Colorado as a base, and Mexican beach pebble (black, unpolished) as the dry creek bed....wife loved the look, but this project is much larger and the Mexican rock (as you know) is really, really $$$$.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  5. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Depending on the exposure to the morning and afternoon sun you should notice an increase in your cooling bill since the rock will reflect any sunlight back onto your home. Have you had any Tornado's in your part of Texas?
    Reason being all of the rocks will make many bullets when a Tornado strikes. I have personally seen after Hurricane Andrew and Charlie the damage that is caused from rocks from beds flying into wood and block framed homes!
    easy-lift guy
  6. ernie_h

    ernie_h LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Ouch....that's gotta hurt :-(
    Fortunately, tornados out here are not common. High winds on occasion when fronts come in (up to ~50 mph gusts). That said, there are always a few every season, but it seems to me they don't 'usually' stray this far East of the DFW area.
    Heat is a consideration and it is a Western exposure, but there enough trees in front so the area gets full sun for an hour or two at most [but thanks for the reminder....had to think about that one for a minute]. OTOH, might help in the winter, as my heating bills (heat pump) are higher then my cooling bills!

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