What is the Best Soil you should be using for your Flower Bed?

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

soil uses

When making a flower bed, you are putting your blood, sweat, and tears into a project that you want to look beautiful all year long. You are going to want to make sure you are using the right materials and giving your flowers the proper chance to bloom and grow with enough strength. Soil uses are going to be your main concern. The particular plants you are putting in the flower bed will need the proper conditions and soil for it to thrive. Additional soil than what your yard is currently providing is sometimes necessary for your new flower bed. This mostly comes down to a choice between garden soil uses or topsoil uses.

To someone outside of the gardening scene, they may think that all soils are the same. They would not realize the need for the proper nutrients and fertilizers to ensure long and strong plant life in their flower beds. They might get in contact with the cheapest topsoil delivery only to later find their flowers dying rather quickly. Here are a few tips for garden soil and topsoil.

Garden Soil

Although the term “garden soil” is used on many premixed soils sold in stores, truthfully it is not one natural soil, but multiple. Garden soil sold in stores are made up of a combination of fill sand, silt, clay and various minerals and will have a distinct texture to them. The variety of soils combined in that package were made specifically for a particular plant or type of garden.

Before purchasing any garden soil from a store, be sure to ask what kind of materials are in the mix to ensure that your garden and plants are getting the right soil. Soils are evaluated on their fertility and texture. They are the two basic features you need to know before buying soil. According to Home Depot, “Different plants need different types of support from their soil, so it’s important to determine what you’ll be planting before you pick out the corresponding soil.”


If you are asking yourself, “What is topsoil made of?”, it is the uppermost layer of soil on the earth. It is usually between two and eight inches thick, but in some areas can be up to twelve inches thick. Topsoil is sold in larger quantities for large-scale landscaping needs when compared to garden soil. It is also more of a general mixture of nutrients and not mixed with as many fertilizers or organic matter compared to garden soils.

You might be asking yourself, “What kind of topsoil do I need for my garden?” First, you are going to need to figure out what soil your yard is currently working with. According to SF Gate, “Adding topsoil that is different from the flowerbed’s current soil can change drainage in the flowerbed, leaving plants too dry or waterlogged.” Basically, in order to ensure consistent drainage, mixing soil types should be avoided. Of course, if you are unsure as to the type of soil in your flowerbed, contact an expert for a soil analysis.

All soil uses can differ from each other quite a bit, even if found in the same yard or moved from one flower bed to another. The sand, silt, and clay is all going to be combined in differing proportions. When combined together with the just right proportions as well as in the right location, you will have the best chance to grow healthy, strong flowers. If you end up adding soil that is different from what is currently in the flower bed, you risk changing the drainage in the bed. This can leave your plants too dry or waterlogged. Be sure to do the proper research and provide your plants with the proper soil they will need.

Understanding Sand: Different Types Used in Landscaping

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

utility sandSand, which is one of the three types of topsoil that exist (along with loam and clay), is often a bit misunderstood. Although we’re used to wiggling our toes in the sand at the shore, the sand you find along the coast isn’t the only kind that exists. What’s more, commercial sand can be used for countless purposes (other than sunning yourself and listening to the sound of the waves). In today’s post, we’ll take a look at some of the different types of construction sand that may be used in landscaping projects to give you a better idea of what materials your building sand suppliers might recommend.

  • Utility Sand: Also known as fill sand, utility sand is rather coarse in texture and is a mix of white, gray, beige, tan, and brown particles. It’s typically used underneath paving stones (e.g., as a base material for concrete) or even to fill holes and trenches. It compacts especially well, despite the fact that it’s not processed or washed. Although utility sand isn’t the type of soft, pure sand you associate with your favorite beach destination, it does serve many important purposes in landscaping and in construction.
  • Beach Sand: Fine-textured beach sand is essentially what it sounds like — it’s similar in feel and look to what you might see on vacation. It’s often found on playgrounds, on beach volleyball courts, and in sandboxes. It may also be referred to as “play sand,” which indicates that it’s free of silica and safe for children to play in. If you want to have a soft spot to play in your backyard or your business is constructing a large athletic space outside, beach sand might be an excellent option.
  • Masonry Sand: Masonry sand is sometimes called white sand, although it can come in beige and tan varieties in addition to a white-gray color. This fine-grained, clean sand is utilized in the creation of mortar or concrete; the final product is typically used to lay bricks, blocks, or stones. It’s actually a bit easier to work with than utility sand, which is why white masonry sand is so commonly found in patio construction. It can also be used to create a clean, white line between blocks or bricks, a desirable feature for many homeowners.

Whether you’re using sand between your stone pavers to create a garden path or want to design a safe play area for your kids, it helps to understand the main differences between the main types of commercial products you’ll find that are available for outdoor applications. For more information about the sands we carry or their uses, please contact us today.

Summer Sandbox Fun: 5 Design Ideas Your Kids Will Dig

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

crushed gravelAs summer draws near, your thoughts may be turning to fun afternoons outside enjoying your yard and getting you and yours some fresh air and sunshine. A survey for the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 75% of Americans value time spent outside in the yard. A new sandbox makes a great addition and extra attraction, and is relatively easy to build. Sand for sandboxes comes in various forms. You can use fine sand or a combination of utility sand, construction sand, and crushed gravel for your fill. Sand and gravel delivery service makes the fill process that much easier. There’s always the classic sandbox, but consider these creative ideas for the coolest sandbox in the neighborhood.

The Pallet Box. Rather than tossing out those used pallets, they can be sanded, painted, assembled into formation and filled with sand for an easy play piece.

The Picnic Table Box. This idea is great for those with smaller yards that may not have sufficient room for a full-size sandbox, and provides both seating and sand play. Simply build a frame around the table top, fill it with sand, and add pals and shovels. Your kids can sit or kneel on the table’s seats while building sand castles on the tabletop.

The Tire Box. If you’ve got an old tractor, or other large tire, you can simply lay down liner under the tire, paint the tire in fun colors if you wish, and fill the center with sand. Adhering pool noodles to metal edges keeps things safe.

The Bed Box. This one requires a flat platform bed frame. Fill with sand or a combination of sand and crushed gravel and you are good to go. Bonus points for bed frames with a headboard. Fasten a chalkboard onto the headboard for extra fun.

The Tent Box. Repurpose that old or unused camping tent that’s just taking up space and turn it into a sandbox complete with shade. Once the tent is set up and filled, kids can play inside. This option is also great for kids especially sensitive to direct sun exposure.

One caution: If you make your sandbox cool enough, your yard may become the go-to fun spot for the neighborhood. You may need to stock up on lemonade and refreshing cocktails for your parent friends.

5 Reasons to Use Washed Gravel in Your Landscaping Plan

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

when to use washed gravelThere are a number of reasons to use washed gravel in your landscaping. Some people wonder about when to use washed gravel, what is the answer? Whenever you want! But what are the benefits of using washed gravel when updating your landscaping:

  1. It is very cost effective. This is one of the biggest pluses of using washed gravel. When you are looking to change up the look of your property, this is a great way to go if you are on a tight budget. Washed gravel is less pricey than other kinds of materials for landscaping. If you are wondering when to use washed gravel, it works well for driveways and paths around a property. It has a lot of benefits that concrete and asphalt cannot match. It is also less expensive to have delivered and installed.
  2. It is easy to maintain. Washed gravel is very easy to maintain. In order to get the best results, you should order a little more than is needed when you get your gravel delivery. If you see a patch in the crushed gravel that is uneven, all you need to do is rake it over. This is way easier than fixing cracks in concrete and asphalt. With gravel, there is no need to get coatings that cost a lot or spend a lot of time sealing the area. You will have to schedule a new gravel delivery every two years or so.
  3. It is great for weed control. If you live in an area of the country where weeds are always on the verge of taking over your property, you may want to answer the question of when to use washed gravel, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! No one likes to deal with weeds and they can wreak havoc on an area covered with concrete or asphalt. The roots from the weeds can do a number on other landscaping materials.
  4. You can get your gravel in a number of styles. It also comes in different textures, sizes, colors, and grades. The two most popular styles are crushed and washed. There are a lot of other gravels you have to choose from. No matter what kind of look you want for your landscaping, you can get it with gravel.
  5. It is great at soaking up rainwater or letting it flow right by. All gravel is drainage gravel. If you have your gravel installation done correctly, you will eliminate any problems with drainage. When you have asphalt or concrete, rainwater can really do a lot of damage. Especially when it teams up with the weeds that have popped through the surface. Gravel is comprised of individual rocks. Water can wash through them and not cause any problems. Because a surface of gravel cannot crack, water cannot get in and make cracks larger. This is another reason this is a good material that needs little in the way of maintenance.

There are a lot of reasons washed gravel makes a great addition to any landscape plan. It is cost-effective, can match and meet any style, is easy to install and maintain, and is versatile.

Ensure Optimal Plant Growth By Picking the Right Topsoil

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

gravel deliverySpring is upon us, and many are looking into different types of flowers to add to their garden. Picking out new arrangements and preparing for new things to blossom in your yard space is exciting, but knowing your soil is important for ensuring your plant life thrives.

Good landscaping can bring happiness and contentment to a homeowner’s mindset, and it will increase your home’s curb appeal, too. In fact, some have reported a 14% increase in resale value thanks to improved landscaping. If you are ready to get started, but aren’t sure what steps to take in terms of topsoil, let us help you out.

Read below, then contact Builders Sand and Gravel for all of your landscaping needs. We have the tools and products to set you up right.

Fertility and Texture

There are two main components when it comes to picking the right soil for your needs: fertility and texture. Fertility has a lot to do with the physical features of the topsoil. The texture actually plays a big role in soil fertility, but soil structure, as well as how well it holds water, will make a difference in how successful the plant life is, as well.

Now, when it comes to texture, there are three different thing types of topsoil you can pick from. These are sand, loam, or clay. Clay will retain the most water, which seems beneficial for plant growth, but can wind up drowning them if you are not very cautious. Sand, on the hand, is typically too dry. Plants in sand need a lot of water and can easily dry out on days where the sun is especially hot.

The ideal topsoil comes in the form of loam, which is a mixture of sand and clay. It creates the ideal texture and will be able to hold water well, without leaving your plants in a puddle.

Need Gravel Delivery?

Once you have your flower bed all set up and ready to grow, it may be time to invest in landscaping rocks and gravel. Not only will this help complete the look, but it can help control weed growth, as well. Gravel delivery services are just a phone call away, and it could add the perfect finishing touch to your landscape.

Here at Builders Sand and Gravel, we offer gravel delivery, as well as dirt removal services and topsoil delivery, and we are happy to sell you all kinds of landscaping materials, such as rockery rocks, pea gravel, utility sand, and more. Give us a call today, and we would be happy to work with you.

Peaceful Playground: 3 Ways To Transform Your Backyard With Sand

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

utility sandUtility sand is an extremely versatile product. With the right application and creative idea, you can turn an ordinary backyard into a landscaping dream. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a challenge to come up with clever and inventive ways to use a somewhat generic material. We figured we’d give you a push in the right direction with these three ways to use utility sand in your yard.

  • Sand Bed: If you live in the southern U.S. — or simply prefer its climate and flora — you know that grass is hard to come by. Many homeowners switch to the very low-maintenance utility sand and rock lawns to conserve water without sacrificing appearance. Succulents and cacti thrive in sand, but you must make sure your climate is suited to their health before beginning your own sand and rock garden.
  • Natural Sandbox: Kids love to play in the sand. Encourage imagination by building them a sandbox of their own; they can even help you design and construct the final product as an added bonding experience. Soon enough, your afternoons will be filled with sand castles and grand adventures.
  • Modernize It: You don’t need to love the south to crave the simplicity of a sand or rock garden. In fact, many modern homes (especially those with small yards) are doing away with grass voluntarily because lawn care can be so taxing. With the right design, your sand and rock yard will carry the sophistication of a well-manicured lawn without actually needing any real manicuring. Let the stress of yard work go by transforming your green oasis into a desert oasis and bask in the relaxation.

The creativity doesn’t have to stop at sand. Crushed rocks, washed gravel, and rockery rocks can all contribute to a backyard that is elegantly styled, and uniquely your own. In fact, approximately 38% of homeowners are interested in upgrading their driveways to the more rare gravel and crushed rock look. Landscapes are very flexible when it comes to design; rather than sticking to the classic (and somewhat boring) clean-cut backyard, experiment with landscaping rocks and see where your imagination takes you.

What Is Topsoil and Why Is it Important?

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

types of topsoilHealthy and good-quality topsoil can do wonders for your overall landscaping process, and it ensures your plantlife stays happier and healthier. Topsoil is the outermost layer of soil in which you plant your flowers and other plants. Most topsoil will be around five inches thick, but it could range anywhere between two and ten inches thick.

It is essential to find the right types of topsoil for your specific needs and preferences, so do not just assume any bag of dirt will do. Learn more below.

What Kind of Topsoil do I Need for my Garden?

There are three different types of topsoil you can invest in for your gardening needs. You can choose between sand, clay, or loam, and each has different benefits. 

Clay will form into a ball when squeezed together, and it is known for having good water retention. While most assume this is perfect for gardening, it could cause you to drown your plants if you are not careful enough.

Sandy topsoil is made up of larger particles that tend to drain quicker than other types of topsoil. You will need to water plants in sandy soil a lot more often, especially in the summer when the heat causes it to dry out quickly.

Loam is a mixture of sand and clay, and most gardeners will deem this as the ideal type to invest in for plant growth. You can think of it as the best of both worlds, in that it holds moisture well, but you face less risks when it comes to over-watering.

Depending on what you are planting, different types of topsoil might work better based on your needs, so do your research, and never hesitate to ask a professional for advice. In no time, your landscaping will be right where it needs to be.

Other Types of Landscaping

Many feel that topsoil is a solid investment when it comes to the look and functionality of their yard space, but many other options out there could work well, too. If you are looking for something a bit different, try investing in rockery rocks, pea gravel, utility sand, crushed gravel, or something similar.

Just one inch of rock can help you out a lot when it comes to gardening. For example, rock is great for weed control, and certain types can last up to a decade if you maintain them properly

No matter what, find something you love and work around that. Great landscaping can guarantee a healthier lawn and can increase your home’s overall value. Get started today to ensure you get the most from your space day after day.

What Are Rockery Rocks, Anyway? Your Quick Intro to The Big Boys

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

what are rockery rocksMany different styles of rock provide the beauty and stability for completing various landscaping projects. From lining a pathway to building a retaining wall, rocks are essential building and design tools. However, different types of rocks are appropriate for different projects.

Most rock and building sand suppliers offer extensive sizing options, from pea gravel and utility sand to large rockery rocks. In this article, we’ll be discussing stone options on the larger end of the spectrum: rockery rocks.


What Are Rockery Rocks?


The term “rockery” refers to rock gardens or alpine gardens, which feature decorative stones the size of small boulders. Rockery rocks, then, are the stones used to fill these beautiful and unique garden landscapes. However, rockery rocks can be used in a variety of application beyond decorations. 

Just How Big Are Rockery Rocks?


Generally, rockery rocks refer to boulders about half-man size and up to five man and beyond. For reference, a half man rock might weigh between 10 and 50 pounds, and be eight to 12 inches in size. Some half man rocks can weigh considerably more, depending on their density. The sizes increase quickly from there– rockery rocks that are five man in size might weigh well over a thousand pounds!


While half-man and one-man rocks may be moveable by hand, rocks that are two man or more might require special equipment to maneuver. Ask your quarry or construction service if they offer rock and gravel delivery.


What Are Rockery Rocks Used For?


Though rockery rocks are a favorite decoration for stone gardens, their applications are only limited by the architect’s or landscaper’s creativity. Rockery rocks can be used to build retaining walls or to create stone borders around properties and driveways. Sometimes, rockery rocks are used to build stone steps, benches, and columns. Large stones are also popular in marine applications, such as stone outcroppings for fishing or boat guidance.


Though humble, rockery rocks are incredibly useful for many landscaping projects. By offering stability, beauty, and the sheer impressiveness of their size, they make a great addition to nearly any property, especially since landscaping can increase a home’s resale value by up to 14%. To learn more, give us a call ad Builder Sand and Gravel today!

How Big is Too Big? Choosing the Right Size Rock for Your Landscape

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

rockery rocksRockery rocks come in all shapes and sizes to serve a variety of purposes. From smooth pebbles and washed gravel to boulder-sized landscaping rocks, the huge range of size options allows builders to find the right rock for nearly any outdoor project.

With variety, however, comes difficult choices. To the inexperienced landscaper, it can be tough to know which size and variety of rockery rocks to use in a project.

If you’re planning a project and are unsure which size rock is best, read on. Here’s our quick guide to common rock sizing options and their applications:

Large Boulders and Landscape Rocks

Larger rocks create beautiful centerpieces for different landscapes, and are also commonly used in retainer walls. These large rocks can be anywhere from half-man to 4 or 5 man in size, making them incredibly heavy. These sturdy giants are useful for supporting decorative gardens, building bench rocks, and building outcroppings as well.

Two to Four-Inch Quarry Spalls

These larger, jagged, baseball-sized rockery rocks are often used in smaller retaining walls, or embedded in wet landscapes to provide greater stability for building other structures. Spalls can be compacted fairly well while still allowing water filtration.

3/4 Inch to 2 Inch River Rocks

River rock is a popular type of smooth gravel, typically one to two inches in diameter. This type of rock commonly comes in slightly larger diameters due to its application. Since smooth rocks are often used to mulch flowerbeds and line garden pathways, larger, heavier gravel is less likely to scatter. If you’re creating a pathway or other more decorative garden element, medium-sized river rocks might be the perfect choice!

5/8 Inch Minus Crushed Gravel

This type of gravel includes dust and chips that are all 5/8 of an inch or smaller. Due to its sharper edges and the inclusion of smaller pieces, this gravel compacts easily to create a smooth surface. As such, it is ideal for creating support beds for patios and driveways.

3/8 Inch Pea Gravel

One of the smaller gravel options available, these small round stones create excellent walking comfort when used in by a pool, a pathway, or playground. Pea gravel is ideal for decorative elements as well, like aquariums and fountains.

While this list provides a good introduction to different rock sizing options, there are many, many size alternatives beyond these to meet nearly any construction or landscaping need. To learn more, contact Builders Sand and Gravel Incorporated today!

What is Drain Rock & How Is It Used?

Written by Builders Sand & Gravel Inc. on . Posted in Blog

drain rockRock is one of the oldest, simplest, and most useful resources available to landscape architects today. Though we may never really think about it, there is a huge variety of stone materials, shapes, and styles that can be used in endless building applications.

One style of stone that builders and homeowners depend on is drain rock. Rather than its size or shape, drain rock is primarily identified by its purpose– as the name suggests, drain rock is a porous gravel material designed to manage the flow of water in a drain.

Common Drain Rock Features

This style of stone comes in a few common sizes: 1 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 7/8 inch, or 3/8 of an inch. This smallest size is sometimes called pea gravel as well. These stones can come in rough, jagged varieties, or be smooth in texture, depending on the builder’s preference and their intended application.

Additionally, drain rock color can range as widely as the color of stone, from white to black to different shades of grayish-blue. Often, the color of drain rock will depend on the location of the quarry it came from.

Common Drain Rock Applications

Drain rock is valued for its use in many different drainage techniques. Here are just a few examples of water management and redirection that utilize drain rock:

  • French Drains: A French drain is a style of trench that contains a perforated pipe. The trench or hole is filled with drain rock, which allows water to easily flow towards the pipe for redirection. French drains are essential for protecting building foundations from water damage.
  • Driveways:Drain rock is sometimes used to line and support paved driveways. When used beneath and around asphalt or concrete, drain rock quickly absorbs runoff water that flows from the impermeable pavement. Since topsoil (the uppermost layer of dirt) is between two and eight inches thick, it doesn’t always absorb rain quickly. Drain rock near driveways can help prevent flooding when topsoil has become saturated.
  • Gardening:Finally, gardeners value drainage gravel for its ability to prevent soil erosion when used as a mulch. Additionally, drain rock can provide a base layer for garden beds that prevents roots from becoming over-hydrated.

Though a simple tool, drain rock is surprisingly useful. From gardening to construction, crafters of all kinds value its ability to divert and control the flow of water.

If you’re looking for drain rock, washed gravel, or utility sand in the Seattle area, contact Builders Sand and Gravel today!