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!

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!

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.

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.

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!