General advice sought on gravelling a garden

Hi list!
I'm interested in putting gravel down to replace the grass in my small front garden, mostly to reduce maintenance (terrace house, so to mow it I have to drag the mower through the house). Would I be right in saying the job is roughly:
1) dig out existing topsoil down six inches or so 2) lay impermeable plastic layer to kill weeds 3) get gravel delivered from local builders yard 4) haul gravel up onto garden (it's about 2 feet above ground level, so I think this necessitates a 'barrow and has to be done by hand) and spread it out with a rake.
The garden is quite small -- about 12ftx8ft, or thereabouts. The guy in the local builder's yard reckoned a half-ton of chippings, quite chunky ones (10-15mm or so, by eye). Does the amount seem about right to everyone?
What about compacting, either the earth underneath or the gravel once laid? This garden won't be walked on often or driven on, so is compaction necessary?
Finally, costs. Seems like the DIY approach will be pretty cheap -- a decent shovel and barrow, 10 or so for the impermeable layer, and about 35 for the chippings. Have I missed something off the list? And does anyone have any idea roughly what it would be cost to have the job done by a professional? I've rung a half-dozen firms but none of them are answering the phone.
Any help greatfully received!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You could probably get the delivery driver to postion the ton bag of chips over where you want them and then you could slash the bottom of the bag that they are being delivered in and voila - a ton (or half) chips right where you intend them to be! Then just rake them about a bit...
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Cuprager wrote:

Aye, that'd be ideal. Might not work though! The garden is about 3 feet above street level, so I'm not sure if we'll be able to deliver them straight onto it. To make matters worse, the driveway that runs alongside that garden is quite sloped (3 feet vertical climb in about 16 feet of horizontal distance) so unsuitable for tipping onto. I have the horrible idea he'll have to deliver onto the street and we'll move the chippings by hand -- probably the hardest part of the whole job.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

3' shouldn't be a problem for a "hi-ab" - it's probably about the level of the flatbed of the lorry anyway.
Owain
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: [snip]

[snip]
Don't you want a semi-permeable barrier? It stops weeds growing but allows drainage.
If you put down an impermeable barrier you'll get puddles unless you arrange enough slope to ensure rainwater can run off.
Mike
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MikeH wrote:

D'oh, yes, that is of course what I mean. Usefully, the Terram factory is only a few miles from my house; I wonder if they have a factory shop...
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MikeH wrote:

And both will in time get infested with weeds anyway..dust and water collects, and seeds, and off go the weeds.
Only sure way to stop weeds is to use pathclear every year.

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

It is best to use woven Polypropylene sheet. It allows water through but weeds will not come through, (though they sometimes grow in the gravel).
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Park your car to keep a space, so that you can be certain the truck can get to the best position when it arrives. Tell the delivery driver how impressed you'll be if he can swing the semi-bulk bag into the middle of your ex-lawn.
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Bookworm wrote:

They won't "come through" 4" of gravel anyway. They WILL seed in almost anything.
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Bookworm wrote:

I've had this before though, at a house I used to live at -- weeds in gravel are no problem as they are very easy to pull up. Weeds rooted in the earth are a lot harder to get at. I realise no solution will be totally weed-free, I'm just happy to only have to weed for 5 minutes a few times a year!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Well thats all I do..go round with path clear once a year.
No polypropylene at all.
just a deep layer of crushed limestone and a deep layer of gravel.
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Hi list!
I'm interested in putting gravel down to replace the grass in my small front garden, mostly to reduce maintenance (terrace house, so to mow it I have to drag the mower through the house). Would I be right in saying the job is roughly:
1) dig out existing topsoil down six inches or so 2) lay impermeable plastic layer to kill weeds 3) get gravel delivered from local builders yard 4) haul gravel up onto garden (it's about 2 feet above ground level, so I think this necessitates a 'barrow and has to be done by hand) and spread it out with a rake.
The garden is quite small -- about 12ftx8ft, or thereabouts. The guy in the local builder's yard reckoned a half-ton of chippings, quite chunky ones (10-15mm or so, by eye). Does the amount seem about right to everyone?
What about compacting, either the earth underneath or the gravel once laid? This garden won't be walked on often or driven on, so is compaction necessary?
Finally, costs. Seems like the DIY approach will be pretty cheap -- a decent shovel and barrow, 10 or so for the impermeable layer, and about 35 for the chippings. Have I missed something off the list? And does anyone have any idea roughly what it would be cost to have the job done by a professional? I've rung a half-dozen firms but none of them are answering the phone.
Any help greatfully received! [==================]
A couple of my neighbours have done this. One didn't use a plastic or another membrane, and one used black butyl fish pond liner. Neither have any weeds growing through. I have also seen it done with bark chippings instead of gravel, which is much lighter to spread about. Again, no weeds have come through. A lot of parks departments use bark chippings to avoid weeding in flower beds.
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Phil Anthropist wrote:

For heavens sake dont use Bark Chippings. They are APITA. They attract woodlice by the million. They rot down and need replacing. When the wind blows the top ones dry off and blow everywhere.
Bark Chippings OK in local Parks and Gardens. Shit bad news in front gardens. I know from experience.
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I have the entire back garden bark chipped - the birds love it...
Yes, they rot and need adding to on an annual basis, but our two dogs probably scatter more than the wind blows...
Ours is very shallow (2" max in places) but it still does a very good job at keeping weeds down generally.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yup - only not that deep.

No, absolutely not! You will get waterlogging etc.
If you want a membrane then you need a proper geofabric. The purpose of this is not to stop weeds, but to prevent the sub base from subliminating into the soil.

Yup
A builders merchant ought to be able to deliver into the garden as long as it is not too far from the road (had them do this for me recently - over a 6' wall at about 5m from the lorry - it was just on the limit of their hi-ab).

The volumes don't add up. That is about 9 sq m in area. If you are digging down six inches, you are removing about 1.3 cubic m of soil which would require over two tonnes of gravel to fill.
You have a couple of options here - the "built to last" approach, or the "quick and cheap" decorative solution.
If you want a professional quality result then I would go for 2" of compacted type 1 MoT granular sub base (about 0.5 cubic m) first - it is cheap and can be compacted down with a plate vibrator. That will stay put and not sag any further, and will also prevent any weeds coming up through the base. It would also take foot traffic without sagging and remain permeable to save causing drainage problems. Then finish it with 2" of your choice of decorative gravel.
If you want the cheap and chearful option, then go for a geofabric with 2" of uncompacted decorative stuff on top. As long as you don't drive or walk on it much it should stay put and not let the weeds through.
Note that with any gravel surface, if you let soil, or leaves or other bio matter fall onto it, it will eventually support weed growth on the top anyway. A garden blower or vacuum can be a good way of clearing leaves without sucking up the gavel!

It is worth it if you are using a sub base, but you can miss it out for a "decorative only" finish. A small plate vibrator will probably cost 25 - 40 to hire for a day and will do the job nicely.

Probably more like 50 for the gravel once VAT and delivery is on top. Don't forget a mini skip to take away the soil. If you need a cheap source of type 1, ask the skip people if they can deliver it in the skip - many can. It would most likely work out cheaper than to get it from the builders merchant.

300 to 500 perhaps less if just going for the decorative finish.
--
Cheers,

John.

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If that is all gravel, it will be difficult to walk on. Lay a couple of inches of well-compacted MOT sub-base and a couple of inches of gravel on top of that.
1a) remove large volume of topsoil from site

As others have pointed out, semi-permeable membrane is the right stuff.

The driver should be able to dump the bag on your new gravel area.

Doesn't sound enough to me. It took six tonnes to do a 3m radius circle and some paths in my house to 50mm deep. It is also worth specifying 20mm grid chippings. They are far less attractive to cats as a litter tray than smaller sizes.
Colin Bignell
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On Tue, 29 Aug 2006 18:27:54 +0100, "nightjar" <nightjar@<insert my surname here>.uk.com> wrote:

Agreed. They also don't get picked up in the soles of your shoes and walked into the house as much as the smaller stuff (nor get stuck in car/bike tyres)
Cheers,
John
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

No barrier will stop weeds because they grow from the top down not from underneath, that is to say, seeds blow in and are delivered by birds and take root, there will be enough dust, dead leaves and other debris under the gravel for them to survive easily unless you use pathclear every 6 months, in which case you don't need a weed barrier.
6 inches is way too deep, and if you do choose to go 6 inches, you will require almost 2 tonnes (1 tonne covers 10m2 @ 4 inch deep)
Aside from the problems of gravel mixing with surrounding soil, or soil coming up through the gravel, you seem to be making an awful lot of work just to get rid of a bit of lawn, why not just lay paving flags over it and put some planters on it? - as others have said, you will need a skip to get rid of the soil (120), 2 tonnes of whatever (60) plus delivery. If you lay flags on it you only need to remove the turf (about 2 inches deep), these can be composted or someone may take them away if they want them... Twenty-four 2X2ft flags @ 3 each = 72, plus a few bags of sand and cement at about 10, it should be finished in less than two days (DIY) and you'll have a solid surface for walking on, putting ladders on etc and it's easily kept clean.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Dont bother, gravel right over it.

Use a decent weed control fabric. http://www.wickes.co.uk/invt/160172

Yup. In 1 Tonne bags. Go for 18mm gravel, it won't move about as much as 10mm.

The Hiab on the delivery truck will easily lift over that.

About right for 18mm

Not unless you drive/walk on it.

A back support belt if you are 40+ ! Gravel in 1 tonne bags doesn't spread itself when you cut the bag open. You have to shovel, barrow & rake.

I would charge about a days labour + gravel + weed control fabric, + a margin on a job like this, so about 300.
--
Dave
The Medway Handyman
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