There are some landscape materials I cannot get enough of. Decomposed granite is a material comprised of pieces of granite 3/8ths of an inch across, and smaller. The smaller pieces are known as “fines”. The fines sift down in between the 3/8 inch pieces, and interlock the decomposed granite. This makes for a surface that delivers that beautiful sound with every step that says garden, dead ahead. Decomposed granite looks like sand when it is delivered. I have taken plenty of panic stricken phone calls from clients. But once it is laid down, graded, compacted and washed, it is a surface that won’t give no matter how high those heels are. I have no love for asphalt as a surface; does it not seem like a symbol of all those places we have paved over without cause? Concrete is a great material, as long as it is used with architecture that asks for it. Concrete aggregate is beautiful for modern or contemporary landscapes-I hate to see it used by a client who really wanted gravel, but was too afraid. My mentor and dear friend Al Goldner, told me once his only regret as a designer was that he was not bold enough; be bold!
Decomposed granite, properly installed, makes for a driveway impervious to tire marks. In this landscape, the driveway flowed seamlessly into paths for a vegetable and cutting garden.
A driveway of decomposed granite requires an expert installation. GP Enterprises does these drives for me. They are so careful to install with a careful eye to grade and drainage. They compact the granite with the same machinery that compacts asphalt.
Decomposed granite makes a great mulch for comtemporary landscapes. This landscape did not ask for mulch-that granite completed a thought.
Decomposed granite can finish a formal planting, as well as a contemporary one. It is clean, fresh, and crisp. It is easy to make shapes, and moves; it does a great job of giving the eye a place to rest.
I have done many a terrace in decomposed granite. It is a clean surface, not so demanding of attention as stone. This garden makes much of the pots and the furniture-the granite is a quietly beautiful surface. It is the color of nature, a texture that celebrates all that is set on it.
This material is useful for more than driveways and paths. Some plantings need a special space of their own.
Wherever people may be in a landscape, I wonder if this surface will play a part. The granite did a great job of featuring the stone from the 1920’s original to this garden.
Some materials are so versatile, which makes decomposed granite a major player in my palette of hard surfaces. Great for driveways, friendly to plants-amazing how it can work in contemporary landscapes as well as vintage ones.