I need help calculating potential cost for building a pebble stone walkway
on the side of an office building. The walkway is made of dirt, and it is
the only way to get from the main parking lot in back of the building to the
front entrance. During heavy rains it floods and you end up getting a lot
of mud on shoes. We had the idea to lay down about 2 inches of pebble
stone, and then set on top of the pebble stone flagstone to use as stepping
stones. This would hopefully raise the steps high enough to get out of the
I had an intern today do a rough volume measurement to calculate the amount
of pebble stone to buy, and I was surprised by the result. The walkway is
about 160 feet long, and varies between 3 feet and 8 feet wide, probably
averaging about five feet. If we lay down under two inches of pebble
stone, we calculated that we would need about 223 cubic feet of material,
which we calculated based on weight and volume of the pebblestone to be
about 13K pounds of stone, a little over six metric tons.
That strikes me as a lot of stone. Does this sound ballpark correct for
the amount of space described here? This assumed we pretty much covered
all of the walkway space with pebble stone that is about two inches deep.
After seeing the amount of stone here, I'm ready for Plan B, which might be
something like building a very narrow strip of pebble stone. I just worry
about that dispersing over time.
What kind of contractor would be good at designing something like this?
The gardeners seem to have fairly random ideas about it. Is there
something equivalent to an "interior decorator" for outside garden areas?
What should I be searching for in yellow pages?
Can you just do a drainage system, rather than raising the area? What would
you use to contain the crushed rock? (you don't want a mower flinging around
This is a more typical method of building a flagstone walkway:
and an article on garden pathways
I'd figure a ton of crushed rock per 100 sq ft 2" deep, so:
160 ft x 5 ft = 800 sq ft, or 8 tons of crushed rock, about $100 here +
delivery and spreading. In cubic feet, that's
160' x 5' x 0.167' = 133.6 cu ft or just under 5 cu yards.
Call up some sand and gravel companies and tell them your dimensions, and
ask how much stone (I'd ask for 3/4" minus) and delivery would be.
Prices will vary all over, depending on who you call (cheaper from the quarry
than from a "landscaping materials" dealer, and a whole lot cheaper than
buying bagged stone). The actual weight is going to be dependent on
the density of the materials -- I'm just giving you ballpark figures from
my little corner of the world.
In some instances, a good delivery driver can help spread the stone by
dumping while the truck moves along the area -- this will depend on
the stability of the area and how open it is, as well as on the driver.
When we have gravel delivered to our private road, we ask for a driver
who can do this... saves time and money that we'd otherwise pay the
dozer driver to spread it evenly. Sure beats having to spread rock
that's in a big heap, though. <g>
There are also "side dump trucks" that might be more appropriate
for dumping in your location. The guys at the gravel plant can tell
you what's available and what is possible for your jobsite.
Can't tell you who to talk to in the yellow pages... I'd just walk across
the road and talk to Tom, who has a grader for spreading, and call the
local quarry for the crushed rock. Not very helpful, I guess. <g>
You should also check on whether a permit is required for this work...
For a nice quality river-washed stone that was about 1/4 inch diameter per
stone on average we were being quoted $260 per ton. So at 8 tons that
gets to be serious money. You really get 8 tons for $100 there? I guess
I should start calling quarries and that's a good idea.
In terms of types of stone, I was hoping to find something with a smooth
surface, maybe brownish tones. River washed rock would be perfect. What
do you spend for small pebble stone of that type in your area? I guess I
need to do more aggressive shopping on price.
Your response was very helpful on many levels, thanks!
"Kay Lancaster" < email@example.com> wrote in message
That's what they're telling me now... two years ago it was $89 for 11
tons, delivered, and I slipped the driver a little extra for starting the
spread for us by dumping while moving (which saved everyone from having to
drive around the pile of gravel till Tom got home.)
Gave Tractor Tom another $80 for spreading it and
reworking the crown on the road and taking out the beginning of an
erosion gully and some potholes -- that was about an hour and a half's work.
On the other hand, friends who didn't know about
ordering from the quarry paid something like $150 for 2 tons of
crushed rock for their driveway. Not spread.
Yah, washed river rock is basically decorative aggregate. Rolls underfoot and
is often slick when wet, and then it sinks into the mud. Perfect for putting
a top decorative layer on concrete (though it's still slick when wet -- how's
your liability insurance?. Crushed stone
will tend to interlock and stay on the surface, at least for a few years.
Eventually, you get to sort of a steady state with crushed rock.
My personal choice for cheap would probably be a good thick layer of
often obtainable for free from tree trimming companies who want to avoid
dump fees, followed by a little work with a bobcat with a blade or such.
Yes, you'll have to renew them every few years, but they're safe and pleasant
to walk on, and a nice color. If you've got anyone who is a "bad walker",
decomposed granite over a compacted stone base is probably a better choice.
If you want to do it right, you probably need to go in with drainage tile/
tubing covered with crushed stone (washed to remove fines) or pea gravel
and then topped with your surface rock. Here's an old book with a
pre-geotechnical fabric path cross section (pp. 73-74)
Hey, if you want to come get 'em, I've got plenty of little round rocks
in our yard... just pick a spot and start digging and sifting. Most of 'em
are a nice reddish brown. We would
appreciate it if you'd dynamite anything bigger than a Volkswagen, though.
Kay, who has Tractor Tom bring his backhoe when she plants trees
My PC calculator approximates to just under 15 yards of your material.
There's 9 cubic feet in a cubic yard. Such material is sold by the yard,
otherwise known as a cubic yard. The larger "Dixie" version dump trucks can
carry 12 yards of material.
I don't think you want a pebble and flagstone walk 150 feet long for a
commercial building... the cost of that stone is peanuts... just make
certain your liability insurance coverage is into the many, many
So the issue is the pebble is too unsecure if someone falls of the flagstone
step in rain, or would you object to flagstone itself, even if it were
secured in a firm concrete or sand base?
Thanks for raising the liability issue. I'm trying to run a fine line
between cheap/ugly and expensive/nice-looking. Now I have to worry about a
third dimension of safety. But you are right it needs to be part of the
Methinks you're gilding the lily, attempting to incorporate every
meduim you can think of without a clue how to bring them all
together. If you want a safe walk that incorporates pebbles in an
aesthetic format the best rendition would probably be concrete with
exposed aggregate... you could probably insert flat stones too but
then that lily is going past gilded and all the way to grotesque...
you aren't building a doublewide trailer center? Of course it would
help to know what climate... with ice and snow I wouldn't consider
Of course I have no clue about how to bring it together. But you have to
start asking questions and learn. And better to start ignorant and learn
something than to stay ignorant but pretend to be smart. At least I will
become familiar with alternative approaches and can better evaluate
proposals we get. No harm in learning what amounts of materials are
involved and what wholesale costs are. That lets me get a handle on what I
am being charged for labor.
The Concrete Network site was great, and it immediately zeroed in on exactly
the type of contractors we needed to contact in our area. Thanks for that.
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