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!

drain rock

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!

pea gravel

4 Tips for Choosing the Best Stone Color for Your Gravel Project

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

pea gravelGravel and rock of any kind play important roles in the world of landscaping. From lining pathways to mulching gardens, rock in all shapes and sizes provides both beauty and utility in a variety of applications.


Choosing the perfect stone for your project can be a tricky task. Should you choose small pea gravel, washed gravel, or crushed rock for your pathway? What size should the stone be? What color would look the best?


While size and shape largely come down to practicality, selecting the color of your stone is a matter of personal preference. To choose a stone color you’ll love for years, try using the following guide:


1. Coordinate With Other Elements In the Space


Though pea gravel can be a pretty and charming aspect of your yard, chances are, it’s not the star of the show. When designing a landscape, most homeowners want to show off other lawn elements, like flowers, trees, or yard furniture. Consider these features when choosing a gravel color– if you have a lot of black patio furniture, consider choosing a light stone to contrast the dark. Or, if you already have stone features, pick a similar stone color to help unify your overall landscape.


2. Play With Contrasts and Multicolor


Contrast is a useful tool for calling attention to other yard features. If you have a display of bright white flowers, dark gray, deep brown, or black pea gravel will offset the pale blooms. If you want your gravel pathway to be more visually interesting, you can even order pea gravel in mixed tones and colors.


3. Add Drama with Monochrome


Many designers prefer the bold, stark appearance of saturated monochromes. For example, deep black or nearly white drain rock can create clear borders around flower beds and walkways, which call attention to their shape. If you want a bold, modern look, a single dark or light pea gravel color might be the perfect choice.


4. Consider Temperature


Dark black gravel tends to retain heat, while white rock and utility sand tend to reflect hot temperatures. Consider the amount of sun and shade if your outdoor landscape, and choose colors to help manage temperatures throughout the seasons.


When properly installed, gravel and stone elements can least for years. Even a gravel driveway can last three to five or even 10 years with regular upkeep and maintenance. Use this guide to enjoy the color stone you select for years to come. For more information about gravel and rockery rocks of all kinds in the Seattle area, visit today!

rockery rocks

Bring the Outdoors Inside with Rock-Based Interior Design

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

rockery rocksAccording to a study conducted by Houzz Landscape Trends in 2017, 38% of homeowners upgraded their pathways, driveways, patios, and terraces use crushed gravel or rock. However, crushed gravel, river rocks, and rockery rocks can be used in a variety of home improvement projects beyond outdoor spaces.


The natural beauty and durability of river rocks make them a prime choice for many interior design applications. Different shapes, sizes, color tones, and variations in natural stones are all part of what makes them so appealing in any aspect of your home design.


If you’re looking to upgrade the appearance of your home’s interior, here are a few ways to incorporate all kinds of rocks for a beautiful, modern approach:


Fireplace Upgrades


From residential home design to commercial ski resorts and mountain cabins, natural elements like rock contribute to a homey, cozy feeling when sitting next to a fireplace. Large rockery rocks can make any fireplace truly wow your guests, since the natural stone makes the fireplace seem like an ancient cave. For a subtler approach, smaller river rocks create neutral tones and interesting textures for your mantle and chimney decoration. As a bonus, stone is naturally heat resistant, which helps your fire stay contained and your home stay safe.


Spa-Like Bathrooms


Incorporating washed gravel and other stones give a bathroom a muted, relaxed atmosphere, and enhances feelings of natural rejuvenation. River rock is generally very smooth to the touch, which makes it a great sensory addition to your bathroom. Try using a layer of drain rock over the floor in the shower to feel like you’re bathing in a waterfall, or build a sink out of a layer of natural rock for a statement vanity area.


Indoor Garden Elements


Rock gardens and rockery rocks elevate your home’s curb appeal when used outdoors. However, just as plants look good indoors and outdoors, so can rocks! Try crafting a small stone garden in the corner of your living room or porch where you keep your house plant display. If you manage the interior of a hotel or a resort, you can even build a large-scale indoor rockery rock garden for natural beauty that doesn’t need regular watering or pruning.


While rock features can make a home’s exterior stand out, using rock indoors is even more bold. For unique blend of modern home design and natural, traditional elements, try out any of the ideas listed above. Bring rockery rocks, river rocks, and pea gravel inside for a more beautiful and daring interior space.

uses for landscaping rocks

Rock It Out: Creative Ways to Use Landscaping Rocks on Your Property

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

uses for landscaping rocksAlthough winter is on its way, that doesn’t mean you can’t look ahead to your spring landscaping plans. In fact, there are certain landscaping elements that can make your property look aesthetically pleasing all year round. Rocks and stone features, for example, can add depth, texture, and color to your outdoor space — no matter the season. If you need a bit of inspiration to get started, here are some excellent uses for landscaping rocks in your front lawn or backyard.

Ground Cover

One of the most popular uses for river rocks — which are more akin to gravel than to big boulders — is to utilize them as ground cover. While many gardeners will opt for grasses, mosses, or even low-lying shrubs for this job, you may want to consider using river rock for landscaping in this way instead. It’s a viable alternative to mulch; though rocks won’t moisturize the soil, they’re often more affordable and require far less maintenance. As a bonus, a one-inch layer of small rocks can provide good weed control, meaning you could reduce the amount of time you’ll have to spend pulling out dandelions and other unwanted species. Using river rocks in this way may appeal to homeowners who live in hotter and dryer climates, who want to minimize their yard work, or who want to focus on hardscaping features instead. Business owners may also benefit from using river rocks, pea gravel, or other options in their landscaping plans.

Visual Accents

Rocks can make for a neutral foundation, but they can also act as the star of the show. Accent boulders could be a welcome focal point in your garden or front yard, particularly when it’s of an unusual shape or color. They may even be slightly sculptural in feel, which can make your green space feel more akin to an outdoor gallery. Ideally, you’ll want to plant some flowers or greenery around the base of these larger rocks. As an alternative, you could place gravel or other small rocks underneath to make the boulder appear more natural.

Flowerbed Borders

Another one of the many uses for landscaping rocks is to define your garden in an attractive way. For example, rocks make for a beautiful and natural edging option for your flowerbeds. You can use flagstones, small boulders, or even river rocks to create a border around these areas of your garden. This results in a rather enchanting garden space that invites family and friends to stop and smell the roses (or other favorite blooms). But of course, edging your flower beds also serves a practical purpose: you’ll define the space and can more easily keep weeds out.

Charming Pathways

Keep in mind that the most beautiful landscaping rocks Seattle has to offer can also be used to form natural-looking pathways around your property. Pebbles, gravel, and even larger stones are often used for this purpose as an alternative to concrete or brick. These materials can instantly add a bit of vintage charm to your yard and boost your curb appeal. Plus, these walkways will welcome your guests and keep them safe, particularly if your other terrain is a bit uneven.

Of course, there are countless uses for landscaping rocks on your property. By utilizing natural stone, gravel, and river rocks in the ways outlined above, you’ll likely improve your property value and your overall satisfaction with the look of your home.

drain rock

Landscaping Projects to Divert Storm Runoff

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

drain rockSpring showers, summer storms, and dreary fall and winter rainfall can all wreak havoc on a yard. Too much moisture can accumulate in your grass or garden, creating a spongy mess. In some cases, poor lawn drainage can even damage your home’s structure through flooding. 

Luckily, smart landscape design using drain rock can redirect storm runoff to minimize property damage. Try any combination of the following projects for better control of rainwater and better protection of your property:


  1. Swales

    Swales are essentially man-made riverbeds that channel runoff in more desirable directions. Often resembling a dry creek, swales can be used at the base of slopes and hills or around a house to divert water towards a drainage area. Thick-rooted plants are often used to slow water’s progress to a drain to prevent overflows. Though swales can be simple grassy ditches, drain rocks or washed gravel is often used to prevent the swale from eroding. 

  2. Rain Gardens

    Another attractive way to control runoff and floodwater is to build and plant a rain garden. Rain gardens provide a place for water to pool during downpours, and incorporate plants that love a good soak. Beneath the flowerbed, a catch basin is used to trap water temporarily and slow its flow into the surrounding soil. The soil in the garden itself is fast-draining to encourage rapid absorption. Sometimes, an underdrain of drain rock is needed to ensure water is dispersed back into the surrounding earth. 

  3. Self-Draining Driveways

    Finally, self-draining driveways that utilize drainage gravel can help prevent water from pooling during storms. Concrete and asphalt driveways are non-permeable, which means rainwater puddles and are directed to surrounding soils, which are often already saturated. Using gravel in combination with drainage trenches can help redirect the flow of rainwater away from more important areas, like basements or garages. 

Some driveways use layers of crushed gravel to create a drainage basin beneath the driveway’s surface for greater protection. When installing any gravel driveway, experts recommended using three layers of different sizes of rock: baseball-sized rocks at the bottom, golf ball-sized rocks in the middle, and marble-sized rocks for the uppermost layer.

Using these smart drainage techniques, you can protect your home from floods and unwanted moisture during storms and rainy seasons. 

For more information regarding drain rock, topsoil, rockery rocks or gravel delivery in King and Snohomish Counties, contact Builders Sand and Gravel today! 

Go Big or Go Home: Using Large Rocks in Landscape Design

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

A beautiful landscape design involves many elements. Gardens, trees, pathways, and buildings require clever and artistic arrangement to create a cohesive and attractive outdoor space.

Using a variety of rock elements in a design can help marry both beauty and function in any landscape. In particular, large rockery rocks can serve multiple functions in a yard or other outdoor area.

Here are just a few rockery rock design ideas for landscapers looking to incorporate large stone in their next project:

    1. Stone Walls

      Building a wall is one beautiful and functional use of large boulders and rocks in a landscape. Crafting a stone wall near a driveway or around the borders of a property can deter unwanted guests, and can give the lawn greater curb appeal. After all, a good landscape can increase a home’s resale value by 14%.

      Stone retaining walls are also particularly useful for protecting steep slopes from erosion and sliding over time. A rockery rock retaining wall can even create the perfect opportunity for planting a hanging garden.


    1. Natural Seating

      Large rocks near gardens and pools not only provide visual interest by contrasting smaller rocks and plants, but they can also provide clever seating opportunities. Smooth and semi-flat rocks can be arranged to form a natural stone bench or stool. You can even arrange medium and large rocks in a ring around a stone fire pit to create an outdoor entertaining area that blends with the natural environment.


    1. Rock Garden Centerpieces

      One of the simplest uses for landscaping rocks and boulders is visual appeal. Rockery rocks have their own natural beauty, with colors, textures, and shapes unique to the region they originated. Use a large boulder or rockery rock as a centerpiece in your rock garden. Let it stand out by placing it in direct sight in a well-lit part of the yard. For a more natural look, ensure that part of the rock is buried underneath the soil, since in nature few boulders sit above the grass and the dirt.


  1. Get Creative

    Though a boulder might seem like just a big, heavy rock, the possibilities are endless. Consider painting a boulder for a unique artistic addition to your yard. A collection of boulders and sand for sand boxes can create a climbing-and-digging play area for children. Boulders and smaller rocks can even be arranged to create a natural-looking waterfall fountain. The only limit to rockery rock design ideas is your own imagination!

What Kind of Gravel is Best for My Driveway?

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

pea gravelUnless you are a landscaping expert (or maybe if you work in a quarry), you probably did not realize there were so many different varieties of gravel until it came time to update or install a gravel driveway. Gravel driveways are relatively inexpensive and easy to install as a do it yourself project, and a carefully maintained gravel driveway that was properly installed can last up to ten years. People choosing which kind of gravel to install in their driveways will make their selection based on availability, cost, appearances, and drainage. Some popular choices for gravel include river rock and pea gravel, which we will discuss among others below. 

River rock: a natural look. River rock is composed of gently rounded and semi-glossy stones that have been dredged up from the beds of rivers. Because of this, it gives the driveway a natural and almost rustic look. However, if your driveway contains steep slopes, inclines, curves, or other features that may be difficult to maneuver, take extreme caution in choosing river rock just for its attractiveness: the smoothed stones shift significantly under vehicles. 

Quarry stone: practical, not pretty. Also known as crusher run, quarry stone is a popular, practical option for driveways. The gravel stones are typically smaller and mixed with a great deal of gravel dust, which allows the gravel to compact and form a semisolid surface. However, due to these properties of the crushed gravel or quarry stone, it does not serve as a good drainage gravel for driveways in wet climates. 

Pea gravel: Like river rock, pea gravel stones are also naturally weathered. They are typically small, round, and smooth, hence their name. Pea gravel is usually multicolored in appearance and has the same attractive, natural look as river rock, without as much of the vehicle instability that river rock yields. However, since the pea gravels stones are round and not angular, they don’t interlock like crushed stone tends to, and can spread out off the surface of the driveway over time unless it is properly edged to keep the stones in place. Pea gravel tends to be a better drain rock option than quarry stone since it allows water to flow through between the round rocks. 

As long as you have gravel delivery arranged (since gravel tends to be quite heavy and difficult to manage by nonprofessionals in a non-commercial vehicle) installing and maintaining your driveway is simple and easy. Just make sure you choose the stone type right for you, to avoid corrective expensive or even vehicular damage and accidents in the long run. 

river rock for landscaping

4 Reasons Landscaping with River Rocks is Eco-Friendly

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

river rock for landscapingRiver rock is a type of washed gravel known for its smooth, rounded texture and versatility. River rocks come in a range of sizes, but are typically one to two inches in diameter. Creative landscapers choose to use river rock for landscaping because of its wide range of beautiful and practical applications, including:


    • Lining a garden
    • Building a walkway
    • Creating borders around buildings and patios
    • An alternative gravel for driveways
    • Outdoor shower flooring
    • Filling a play area
    • Decorating fountains and pools

The many uses of river rock for landscaping are impressive, but what is possibly more impressive is its potential to be environmentally friendly. Here are a few reasons why river rock features are a great choice for any habitat-conscious homeowner, landscaper or gardener.


    1. They Limit Soil Erosion

      By choosing to line your outdoor areas with river rock, you’ll be adding an extra layer of weight between the soil and the air. This can help limit wind erosion that might occur on your property, particularly after building projects or at residential construction sites that remove grass and expose soil. River rock can also help limit gravitational erosion in sloped yards and gardens.

    2. They’re Permeable

      One of the many uses of river rock is to encourage drainage. Because the round stones do not fit as tightly together as other materials, water can flow through cracks between the stones. This means that your landscaping project will let rainwater return to the ground and help prevent the destructive flooding that can come from other, less-porous surfaces. This type of drain rock is also a great tool for xeriscaping, which is a style of gardening that requires very little irrigation. If you live in a drought-prone area, gardening with hardy plants and drainage gravel like river rocks can help limit your water consumption.

    3. They Deter Weeds Naturally
      River rocks can be used to mulch around flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees, pathways, and buildings. The weight of the stones and the way they block sunlight discourages weed growth. Rather than resorting to pesticides to keep the edges of your property’s features looking neat, you’ll be using something far less toxic to the habitat. As a bonus, river rocks are much less susceptible to wind erosion and decomposition than wood mulch, meaning that their weed-suppressing ability lasts much longer.

    4. They are a Natural Substance

      One of the main uses for river rock is simply to make your garden prettier. Luckily, rocks are just rocks! River rocks, in particular, are often colorful, bringing natural beauty to your home or garden, no paint or dye required.

If you’re looking to make your home more beautiful without damaging the natural environment, use the natural environment! Choosing river rock for landscaping is a great way to make your lawn look amazing for years to come, without hurting the fields or forests beyond your backyard.


drainage gravel

Landscape Improvements: 3 Drainage Gravel Projects You Can Do

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

drainage gravelCertain landscaping projects can actually increase a home’s resale value by as much as 14%. 

Many homeowners think that they don’t have the skills, knowledge, time, or resources to perform some of these landscape improvement projects. There are plenty of do-it-yourself projects that you can do, however, that don’t require too much money or physical effort. 

By simply placing drainage gravel around your property in strategic locations, you can easily improve your landscape’s look and even boost its overall resale value. According to the 2017 Houzz Landscape Trends study, 38% of homeowners upgrading their pathways, driveways, patios, and terraces are using crushed gravel or crushed rockery rocks. 

Here are a few drainage gravel projects you can easily perform this summer to significantly boost your home’s value and give yourself that nice looking landscape you’ve always dreamed of: 


    • Crushed gravel pathway — You can simply place down a few layers of crushed gravel on your lawn and create a great-looking hardscape pathway. If you’re constantly walking back and forth to one part of your property, after a while you’re going to damage your lawn. A gravel pathway can help preserve your lawn and can look fantastic. Lay down gravel in whatever pattern you want from your front door to your mailbox, your back patio to the pool, or anywhere else on your lawn.


    • Outline for fencing — Installing a fence on your property can provide plenty of great benefits, but laying some nice crushed gravel at its base can look amazing. You can certainly outline the inside of your fence, but if you have a few feet left over on the other side of the fence (without intruding on your neighbor’s property), you can place another layer on the outside, which will look wonderful.


    • Gravel garden border — A garden can help your landscape look terrific, as well, but a nice gravel border can significantly improve its look. You can get creative with your gravel bordering, as well; utilize different colors, place the material down in various patterns, and place as many layers as you want.


Don’t let your landscape remain the same for years — it’s time to start upgrading the look and feel of your property. If you’re in need drainage gravel delivery or concrete removal services or would to learn more about how to use rockery rocks in order to boost your landscape’s appearance, give Builders Sand and Gravel Inc. a call right away.