If you haven’t discovered the hidden secrets of landscaping gravel, it might be because . . . there aren’t any.
“Gravel is pretty much gravel,” says Bruce Manring, manager at All Star Materials in Guadalupe. Gravel’s biggest virtue is its enduring reluctance to do anything. “People get it because they don’t want to mow a lawn,” he says.
Gravel’s dogged inertness inspires most homeowners to farm selection and installation out to a landscaper, which involves a moderate surcharge. “We usually sell gravel for about $24 a ton,” says Manring. “If you go through a landscaper, it might cost you $27 to $28 a ton. If you buy it and spread it yourself, it isn’t easy work, but you can save yourself some money.” DIY’ers will need a strong back, a sense of color and an understanding of how their yard will be used.
Homeowners should find a color of gravel that blends or complements their home exterior and landscaping without running afoul of their HOA.
“Many homeowners associations specify a range of colors and sizes, at least for the front yard.” says Manring. ”You want to find out what they’ll allow before coming to us.”
While classic colors like Desert Gold or Yavapai Coral remain popular, a broader range of mined stone means more color choices. Buyers beware, though: Natural desert hues do not match as precisely as paint swatches.
“If you find a color you like, bring it in. We’ll try to match it,” says Curtis Royer of A&A Materials. “But color can vary, even if the gravel comes from the same pit.”
He advises homeowners to see the various samples and bring at least a baggie full of anything you’re looking to match. “You want to get a look at the stone in quantity,” he says. “A ton of it might not look like you expect, and it’s better to find that out here (at our pit) than at your home.”
Type and size varies with usage. “There’s two basic types of gravel: Minus, which is crushed granite, has 75 to 80 percent smaller stones or fine powder,” says Royer. “And screened rock, which has the fines taken out of it, and is more expensive.”
The rock is generally sold in 1 /4-inch, 1 /2-inch and 3 /8-inch sizes.
“A 3 /8-inch size will stand up to a rake, but if you’re tending your yard with a blower, you’ll need a bigger rock,” he says. “You generally want larger rocks in areas where you don’t want foot traffic, and smaller rocks near the pool so they don’t fall in and tear up your pump motor.”
Homeowners must first determine the square footage of the area they wish to cover. (A ton of 1 /2-inch rock, for example, can give 2 inches of coverage to 120 square feet.)
One piece of advice: Call several sources to compare prices. “There are some guys out there who will quote you for 25 tons, deliver 18 tons, and you’ll never know the difference. So, get a number of quotes,” Royer says. “Prices that are way high are probably guys you don’t want to go with.”
Resources A&A Materials
10333 E. McDowell Road Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (480) 990-0557
All Star Materials
9730 S. Interstate 10 Guadalupe (480) 839-1442