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PLANNING YOUR SAND, GRAVEL, TOPSOIL AND EXPORT MATERIAL NEEDS

  Custom homes demand customized services when it comes to the basic materials which are incorporated into your site plan.  Driveways, foundations, garages, parking pads, and future landscape areas all have differing material needs.  Many home sites are also confronted with either an excess or shortage of fill material.  Even when your site has a material balance, setbacks, protected native growth areas, and small building lots often result in a situation where excavated soils cannot be stored on site for future backfill.  Sand, gravel, and topsoil companies are important partners in building that dream home at an affordable price. 

One of the first things to happen at your building site is the provision of an access driveway and construction pad.  A construction entrance of 4”x 8” quarry rock or another bony crushed rock is usually required to minimize tracking onto nearby streets.  Once you’re on site, the most popular materials for access driveways and construction pads are pit run gravel and crushed single pass.  Pit run gravel, as the name implies, is unprocessed gravel straight out of the bank.  Pit run includes all sizes of gravel from sand up to perhaps 8” round rocks.  While pit run gravel is usually the least expensive gravel, the fact that it is round and of varying sized particles means that it may roll and pump.  Another problem with pit run gravel is captured in the old adage that you can’t build a 4” thick road with 8” minus pit run.

 A more attractive option for entrances, driveways, and construction pads is a large crushed product with few fines or binder.  This heavy crushed gravel is usually called crushed single pass or railroad ballast.  It spreads smoothly and the large fractured pieces of rock lock into place providing a firm foundation.  Crushed single pass can be utilized during the construction phase and later covered with a top dressing of crushed gravel or ultimately paved.  Crushed single pass is particularly useful during those wet winter months when many gravels will simply disappear into the mud.  If the driveway is to remain unpaved, your typical choices are 1-¼” crushed, 1-1/4 crushed clear, 5/8” crushed, homeowner’s 5/8” crushed, 5/8” crushed clear, or 3/8” crushed gravel.  1- ¼”, 5/8”, and 3/8” crushed are all specification products with a larger percentage of fines or binder for packing.  Both homeowner’s 5/8” crushed and 5/8” clear crushed have more rock and less fines.  They do not pack as tightly, but many homeowners find them more attractive as the crushed rock shows more prominently.

 Once you’ve established your access drive, it’s usually time to start digging the foundation.  The cheapest option is, of course, to simply pile the excavated foundation soil nearby and use it for a future backfill.  However, if your site is small or there is excess material on site, it’s time to consider export alternatives.  The best option is to find a nearby fill site, but given complex filling and grading regulations, this is not usually practical.  Many sand and gravel pits accept “clean fill” for a modest tipping fee.  Make sure your “clean fill” is free of any stumps, branches, or other deleterious material, as a failure to do so can sometimes result in a rejected load heading to a very expensive landfill.  Some fill sites have varying charges depending on the nature of your export.  Wet or muddy fill is always more expensive to dispose of than dry fill.  Gravelly soils are typically easier to handle and hence cost less to dispose of than clay soils.  Plan ahead and call your sand and gravel supplier to find out what “clean fill” materials they can accept and at what cost.  Prices are usually quoted per cubic yard.  Figure 10 or 12 cubic yards per solo dump truck load.

 After the foundation is dug, some sites require a blanket of crushed or drain gravel to serve as a capillary barrier.  A slab on grade almost always requires a crushed, screened, or drain gravel base.  The more compacted the base, the less likely you are to experience significant cracks in the concrete slab.  Either 5/8” crushed gravel or a 1” minus screened pit run will pack nicely.  Pea gravel or 7/8” washed are usually the drain gravels of choice.  While using a compactor or roller to compact the gravel is best, in a pinch a sprinkler or several days of rain will help settle the base material.

 Once your foundation is poured it’s time for footing drains.  Well drained gravels are the best choice for backfilling around the foundation.  Pea gravel, 7/8” or 1-½” drain gravel can all work for this function.  Some new construction sites with over 5,000 square feet of impervious will require an engineered on-site stormwater collection system.  One cost-effective solution is to carry the stormwater from roofs and slabs to an infiltration trench lined with a perforated pipe and surrounded by drain gravel.  If groundwater needs to be diverted, a French drain or cut-off ditch filled with drain gravel is an attractive option.  If your new home requires a septic tank and drainfield, specification sands and gravels will be needed.  Cover soil for drainfield areas can be a tricky business.  Consult your drainfield installer for the proper soil mix over drainfields.

 After the home and garage are constructed and the sidewalks poured, it’s time to bring it all together with attractive landscaping.  The basics for landscaping around the house involve covering this former construction zone with either topsoil or beauty bark.  Most construction areas have been heavily compacted which means that the native soils won’t drain as well as they once did.  Many landscape contractors will skimp on the imported topsoil and put down 2-3” of topsoil over hard compacted soil.  Many homeowners are later heard bemoaning the lack of well-drained topsoil as they look at a dying lawn.  Have your site work contractors loosen the compacted soil using the clearing rake on a bulldozer, or you can simply build up the soil layer above compacted areas through the use of cheap fill materials such as pebbles and dirt.  Topsoil manufacturing companies often screen out the small pebbles when creating topsoil.  This inexpensive product can serve as a base material upon which good topsoil is ultimately placed.

 When considering what kind of topsoil to use, there are a number of important factors;  namely quality and depth.  The manufacturing of commercial topsoil is as much an art as it is a science.  Typical ingredients include native soils, sands, silts, composts, and sawdust.  Avoid topsoils with a high clay content.  Clay soils tend to compact easily and are typically poorly drained.  If the native on-site soils are poorly drained, consider choosing a topsoil with a higher sand content for enhanced drainage.  Sandy topsoils are sometimes called golf course mix.  If the native soils are rocky and well to excessively drained, consider choosing a 3-way mix with a higher soil content to help retain moisture.  Whether you plan to sod or seed your site, a good quality topsoil is the key to a beautiful lawn in the future.  Beauty bark and other decorative landscape materials such as quarry rock, screened oversize cobbles, red cinders, or lava rock will help accent your home and landscaping.

CUBIC YARD (C.Y.) CALCULATIONS:

 

CALCULATING CUBIC YARDS  FOR SQUARE / RECTANGULAR AREAS:

 

Length x Depth x Width (all expressed in feet) = cubic feet divided by 27 = cubic yards. NOTE: 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet (3’ x 3’ x 3’).

 

Example: A 20-foot by 40foot rectangular area 3 inches deep.

20’ x 40’ x .25’ (i.e. 3”) = 200 cubic feet divided by 27 = 7.41 cubic yards

 

CALCULATING CUBIC YARDS FOR CIRCULAR AREAS:

 

Radius squared x 3.14 (Pi) x depth (all expressed in feet) = cubic feet divided by 27 = cubic yards.  NOTE: 1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet (3’ x 3’ x 3’).

 

Example: A 50-foot diameter circular area, 4 inches deep.  Note: the radius is 1/2 of the diameter

25’ x 25’ x 3.14 x .33 = 648 cubic feet divided by 27 = 24 cubic yards

 

CONVERTING INCHES TO FRACTIONS OF FEET:

 

1”        2”      3”      4”        5”        6”        7”       8”        9”        10”       11”      12”

.08     .16     .25      .33      .42       .50         .58     .67       .75       .83         .92        1.0

 

ONE CUBIC YARD (C.Y.) OF MATERIAL COVERS:

 

338            Square feet @ 1” deep

169            Square feet @ 2” deep

108            Square feet @ 3” deep

82            Square feet @ 4” deep

64            Square feet @ 5” deep

54            Square feet @ 6” deep

 

SQUARE FOOTAGE (S.F.) CALCULATING:

 

Length x Width (or Height) (expressed in feet) = Square Footage

 

Example: A 3 foot high by 40’ long rockery = 3’ x 40’ = 120 square feet.

 CALCULATING TONNAGE NEEDED PER S.Q. OF ROCKERY:

 

Length x Height (all expressed in feet) divided by 18 (for half-man rocks) = tons needed.

 

Length x Height (all expressed in feet) divided by 15 (for one man rocks) = tons needed.

 

Example: A rockery 3 feet high by 40 feet long using one-man rocks.

3’ x 40’ = 120 square feet divided by 15 = 8 tons of one-man rocks.

 

APPROXIMATE POUNDS / TONS* PER CUBIC YARDS (C.Y.)*:

 

PRODUCT

POUNDS PER C.Y.*

CONVERSION (TONS PER C.Y.)* 

PIT RUN GRAVEL

3,050 lbs

1.52 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

CRUSHED GRAVEL

3,000 lbs

1.50 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

WASHED GRAVEL

2,800 lbs

1.45 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

SCREENED SAND

2,700 lbs

1.35 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

TOPSOIL

2,000 - 2,400 lbs

1.00 - 1.20 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

1/4" RED CINDERS

2,000 - 2,200 lbs

1.00 - 1.10 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

3/4" RED CINDERS

2,000 - 2,200 lbs

1.00 - 1.10 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

1/4" LAVA SAND

1,800 lbs

0.90 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

3/8" LAVA ROCK

1,500 lbs

0.75 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

1/2" - 1" LAVA ROCK

1,400 lbs

0.70 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

1" - 2 1/2" LAVA ROCK

1,350 lbs

0.65 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

SAFECO FIELD MIX

2,000 lbs

1.00 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

GOLF COURSE SAND

2,200 lbs

1.10 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

GRAY CLAY

3,000 lbs

1.50 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

COMPOST

1,000 - 1,300 lbs

0.50 - .65 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

4" QUARRY ROCK

2,400 lbs

1.20 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

4" - 8" QUARRY ROCK

2,400 lbs

1.20 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

HALF MAN ROCK

2,800 lbs

1.40 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

ONE MAN ROCK

2,800 lbs

1.40 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

BOULDERS

3,000 lbs

1.50 +/- Tons Per C.Y.

 

 

ROCKERY ROCK SPECIFICATIONS (per W.S.D.O.T. 9-13.7(1) 

 

ROCK SIZE

ROCK WEIGHT*(LBS.)

AVERAGE DIMENSIONS

Half Man

25 - 50 lbs.

6" - 12"

One Man

50 - 200 lbs.

12" - 18"

Two Man

200 - 700 lbs.

18" -28"

Three Man

700 - 2,000 lbs.

28" - 36"

Four Man

2,000 - 4,000 lbs.

36" - 48"

Five Man

4,000 - 6,000 lbs.

48" - 54"

Six Man

6,000 - 8,000 lbs.

54" - 60"

     

* NOTES: All of the product weights and conversions are approximations only and there is no warranty, expressed or implied, that our products equal those weights or conversions. There can be wide variances in the weight of various products due to a number of factors, including the moisture content, season, recent weather (dry vs. wet), the material density, the composition of the product, the absorptive qualities of the product, changes in the product, etc.  As a general rule, denser material without much void space is heavier, such as rockery rock or pit run gravel.  By the same token, bigger rocks and boulders are denser and thus heavier than smaller loose products, such as sand, which is lighter.  The greater the capacity for a product to absorb water (particularly weather sensitive materials such as topsoil, cinders, clay, etc.) the more prone that material is to changes in weight due to moisture, rain, or other wet conditions.  By the same token, well-drained materials such as pea gravel, 7/8”, or 1-1/2 drain gravel are not very susceptible to weight changes due to the presence of moisture.  A crushed gravel product with a higher content of fines (or sandy binder) such as State Spec. 5/8” or 1-1/4” crushed gravel (typically 50% fines) is typically heavier than a clear crushed product such as 5/8” or 1-1/4” Clear (typically 5-10% fines), due to there being more void space and the better draining characteristics of  the Clear crushed product.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 1999 Palmer Coking Coal Co LLP., Redesigned by J Ross