All About Topsoil: Your Questions Answered

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


If you’re landscaping at your place of business or creating a garden at home, you’ll certainly have heard the term “topsoil” thrown around. But what exactly is topsoil and why is it so important? We’ll answer some of the most common questions (including the “what kind of topsoil do I need for my garden?” query) in today’s post.what kind of topsoil do i need for my garden

What Is Topsoil?

Technically speaking, topsoil is the top layer of the earth’s surface. Usually, the topsoil layer extends about five to 10 inches down into the ground. This dark-colored soil is rich in organic matter and microorganisms, so it makes sense that this layer is also where the bulk of biological activity takes place. In other words, the topsoil layer is where plant roots can be found, as nutrients are easy to obtain here.

What Is Topsoil Used For?

As you might have guessed, topsoil is often used for gardening and landscaping. But topsoil uses extend beyond planting. It can also be used to repair damage to lawns and level out a yard, as well as to improve soil drainage on a given property. It can even be used to change the slope of the ground surface.

Are There Different Types of Topsoil?

Yes! Although all topsoil contains the same ingredients, there are actually three distinct types of topsoil. It all depends on the proportion of components. That may prompt you to inquire: “what kind of topsoil do I need for my garden?” Before you can determine that, it helps to know your options.

Sand, loam, and clay topsoil make up the three categories available to you. Sand topsoil, as you might have guessed, has a higher proportion of minerals and rocks. This category can be further divided into two types: silica (which is quartz-based) and aragonite (which is made from shellfish, coral, and other beach lifeforms). Sand topsoil is often used for commercial and agricultural projects. Loam topsoil contains even proportions of silt, clay, and sand. It’s often used in farming and can be found in naturally fertile areas; it generally contains more moisture and nutrients than sand topsoil. Clay topsoil contains a greater proportion of decayed organic material (often, powdered rocks and dried plants). Because it’s less prone to water erosion, clay topsoil can be a good choice when creating barriers.

What Kind of Topsoil Do I Need For My Garden?

Now, it’s time to answer your “what kind of topsoil do I need for my garden” question. Ultimately, there’s not one definitive answer to this. That’s because the type of topsoil you need will largely depend on the type of topsoil you naturally have in a given space. If you don’t know what type of soil you already have on your property, you might want to consider having a sample tested. That can allow you to know more about what your garden is missing and what it really needs to thrive. In the end, you’ll want to choose a topsoil with the correct proportions of sand, clay, and organic matter, as well as the nutrients your plants need to survive. Your topsoil should also retain enough moisture for your plants without creating drainage issues.

Where Can I Get High-Quality Topsoil?

While there are many places that offer topsoil for sale, you should consider working with a resource for topsoil delivery Seattle homeowners and business owners trust. Not all topsoil is created equal, but when you work with a great provider, your property will look its best for the whole season. To learn more, please contact us today.

what are rockery rocks used for

Thinking of Starting a Rock Garden? Here’s What Rockery Rocks Can Do for You

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

what are rockery rocks used forSummer is here, which means that home renovation season is upon us. Not only can weekend warriors looking to add value to their homes have more space for indoor projects, it also means that there’s more time and good weather for landscaping projects as well. If you’re looking for the opportunity to spend time in your yard and add beauty to your landscape, but you’re concerned about the hefty addition to your water bill, consider a rock garden! These eco friendly and striking additions can provide stability and majesty to any landscaping project. Today, we’ll be discussing rockery rocks, the larger end of the spectrum of offerings your gravel dealer can provide. We’ll not only talk about what they are and what advantages they can offer your landscape design project, but we’ll also tackle the question everyone’s asking: “what are rockery rocks used for?

What Are Rockery Rocks?

If you’ve ever made a visit to a gravel dealer, you’ll know that you can find options from pea sand to river rock and more. Rockery rocks are the boulders that range in size from half-man (8-12 inches in size and 10-50 lbs in weight) to five-man, which can weigh over 1,000 lbs. Actual weight depends on the density of the stone, which will determine whether your new addition can be carried by hand, or if you should leave the movement to the professionals. Make sure to ask your quarry what your options are in terms of residential delivery.

What Are Rockery Rocks Used For?

Rockery rocks are primarily used in rock or alpine gardens, offsetting both smaller stones or plants grown at high ranges. In addition to the aesthetic contrast they can offer to smaller stones, they are also useful in retaining walls, stone pathways, and borders surrounding properties. They can also create striking bases for architectural features such as columns or benches. When you ask yourself “what are rockery rocks used for,” the ultimate answer is that the only limit to their use is the garden designers imagination. These versatile stones offer a visually and texturally striking addition to any landscaping project.

What Are the Advantages of Rockery Rocks?

In a recent report from Houzz in 2017, 38% of homeowners reported making the switch or adding rocks and gravel in their updates to patios and terraces. The reasons for turning to quarry products instead of greenhouses range from increasing curb appeal to cutting down on lawn maintenance and the associated water fees. Because of their sheer size and easy visibility from the curb, rockery rocks also offer an alternative to cookie-cutter landscape design in order to add a unique and environmentally conscious twist to home improvement.

Today, we’ve had a chance to discuss some of the finer points of rockery rock placement, but we’d love to hear about your ideas for your projects. When you imagine your dream rock or alpine garden, what does it look like? Let us know in the comments below.

Is Pea Gravel A Good Choice for Your Driveway?

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pea gravelEvery driveway deserves an upgrade, and if you are thinking of sprucing up your driveway in that long overdue DIY project, then you must be shopping for gravel. For the longest time, this has been one of the best materials to use in your driveway. First, this crushed gravel is easy to install, and second, it gives your driveway that rustic, rural feel that brings upcountry to the city. Before you shop for pea gravel, it may help to have some in-depth information about it, and if you were not aware, such simple landscaping automatically increases your home’s resell value by 14%.


How Do You Define Pea Gravel?


Pea gravel is a small stone, usually the size of a pea that is mostly found near a water body such as a creek. The gravel is often a result of natural weathering caused by the natural movement of water which gives the stones its shape and smooth texture. Some of these stones are so pretty that people use them as ornaments and to decorate their homes. Pea gravel is valuable in a variety of colors including white, grey, translucent, buff and brown. In most driveways, you will get a mixture of all the colors and textures.


Is Pea Gravel Good for Your Driveway?


The type of gravel for driveways used and whether it is suitable for your driveway depends on a few factors. For instance, if you have a wide driveway and you drive in and out a lot, using small size pea gravel will suit you best. The smaller sizes make it easy for you to drive compared to the larger size gravel available. It will also give you better aesthetics by making your driveway look more refined.


The disadvantage with the small river rock is the possibility of dislodging them off the driveway and into the nearby landscape. This is especially true if your driveway will be used a lot of times, and if you have kids who play around that area. Their interest is likely to take over as they pick up the rockery rocks in their little hands and throw them around for fascination sakes.


Larger stones will be stay put more compared to the smaller size, but they will make your driveway look haphazard, which is a down point for beauty. If functionality without charm is your idea, then this is the best option for you.


Just because small landscaping rocks are easily dislodged does not disqualify them, however. Their maintenance happens to be extremely low, which makes them perfect for any driveway and an even better extension as a sidewalk towards your house. Asphalt driveways tend to crack with time, and ill require regular coat to keep them intact. Concrete driveways also crack and chip, which will be an expense to repair.


A pea gravel driveway, on the other hand, only needs you to top up the dislodged stones and you are good to go. You do not need to call in a professional to help you since the installation is pretty straightforward. You can do it yourself with the help of your family and have your driveway up and running within the shortest time possible.


What Sizes Should You Expect?


We have said the driveway gravel usually comes in small sizes, but how small is driveway gravel exactly? A small sized pea gravel will range from 1/8 of an inch to 3/8 of an inch. Their small size, which is usually the size of a pea, is where they derive their name from. This small size is also what makes them excellent for driveways, paths, patios, and playgrounds.


To keep them intact in your driveway, use edging materials such a brick, metal edging or bender board. This will reduce the amount of travel your gravel does, which will see them serve you longer and lower your maintenance cost significantly. Mixing the gravel with dust can also help stabilize it and make it more comfortable and reduce gravel traveling.


The result of using pea gravel is beautiful, put together driveway that’s easy to install without much technical know-how.

How to Create a Rockery Garden to Remember

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

river rockEveryone loves a good garden. You can use different types of topsoil, a variety of flowers, and maybe even a few vegetables in the mix.

But have you ever thought of building a rockery?

A rockery displays different types of landscaping rocks to create a unique and outdoorsy look. Upon creating something cool to look at, rocks are useful for your garden, too – a small layer of rocks, about one inch in size can fight off the mean weeds attacking your plants.

Rockeries best suit alpine plants, like primrose, tulips, or daffodils. You want to make sure your rockery rocks can maintain the garden you’re aiming for.

First, you want to choose the best base for your rockery. Crushed rock will not be your best bet here. Start with finding local rocks with features. This would be a great time to fish out some river rocks from your local bodies of water.

Rocks such as river rocks have a better ability to contain your garden. River rock also has character, making your garden much more interesting. Make sure to include a variety of sizes within your river rocks.

You must consider your wants and needs for your rockery. When choosing where to locate it, consider how far you will have have to carry your rocks (if it’s far away from your river rocks, that’s a lot of heavy lifting for you!) different soil uses, and whether the land is slanted or level.

Place your rockery in a place that gets plenty of sunlight. If you are using a slanted slope, large river rock can keep your garden from sliding down the hill.

It’s time to get much more specific than just simply river rocks to decide what types of rocks to use.


Sandstone have well-defined lines that make your rockery the coolest in the neighborhood. They also make adjusting the size of the rock much easier.


Tufa is nutrient rich, which makes it great for helping your alpine plants grow. It also typically has a porous surface, so plants can mold to it. However, it’s not a common rock, so you’ll probably have to search for it.

Decorative Rocks

While not having so much practical use, decorative rocks will add a touch of personality to your rockery. Consider having your family name engraved in a larger bolder or memorializing your lost pet in a smaller stone. Whatever you decide, it will truly make your rockery, “yours.”

No matter how you go about designing your rockery, it will be sure to set you apart from all of the normal gardens on the block. Happy planting!

gravel delivery

Gravel Driveways: Maintenance Tips to Follow

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

gravel deliveryAdding a gravel driveway at your home or place of business can be an inexpensive way to create your own place to safely park and navigate vehicles. But while a properly installed gravel driveway can last anywhere from three to 10 years with regular upkeep, it can quickly fall into disrepair if you aren’t diligent. To ensure your driveway lasts as long as possible, you’ll want to stay up-to-date with your maintenance. Here are a few important tips you’ll want to follow.

Set a Speed Limit

Although gravel used for driveways is fairly durable, it’s a lot looser than what you’d expect with a paved or poured driveway. Therefore, the materials you obtained during your crushed gravel delivery could potentially be dispersed due to recklessness. Driving too fast over a gravel driveway could cause some damage to the driveway itself. If you want to prevent divots and potholes from forming, make sure to institute a speed limit on your property. By posting signs for guests or for employees, you can ensure that rough driving won’t cause problems.

Remove Debris Regularly

Keep in mind that while crushed gravel delivery is affordable (and a great choice in a lot of other ways), these driveways do require some ongoing maintenance. While you could easily hose down an asphalt driveway, you’ll need to rake a gravel one. This can remove debris like sticks, leaves, and other items that could eventually lead to damage. You don’t have to go over your driveway with a fine toothed comb, but you should make it a point to rake any obvious debris out on a weekly basis. Putting that time in now will allow you to avoid more significant issues later on.

Fill Holes Properly

Sooner or later, you may notice a rut or a pothole start to form. Instead of taking gravel from another part of the driveway to fill in those areas, you should always opt for a new crushed gravel delivery. The first option will actually end up creating more weak spots within the driveway, which can cause damage in the future. But filling the spots in with new gravel will provide a resolution quickly and will allow the entire driveway to retain its strength.

Add Fresh Gravel

In addition to filling in holes and ruts, you’ll also need to apply additional gravel once every couple of years. By obtaining a new crushed gravel delivery at regular increments will make the driveway more stable and address any low spots you might have missed. Adding a fresh layer once a year or once every two years will keep your driveway healthy for many more years to come.

Looking for a resource for gravel Seattle residents can count on? We’re here to provide exactly what you need. From gravel for driveways and parking lots to river rock for landscaping features, our materials are sure to fit the bill and keep your home or business looking its best. For further information, please contact us today.

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.

utility sand

Understanding Sand: Different Types Used in Landscaping

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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.

crushed gravel

Summer Sandbox Fun: 5 Design Ideas Your Kids Will Dig

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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.

when to use washed gravel

5 Reasons to Use Washed Gravel in Your Landscaping Plan

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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.

gravel delivery

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.