With over 25 bulk gravel, sand, and garden products on-site, we have fielded a lot of questions over the years about proper application and use of the materials for gardening and home-improvement projects.
Provided below are answers to the more common questions to give you an educated starting point on your own project.
We carry Bedding Sand, Concrete Sand, and Masonry Sand.
Bedding Sand is most commonly used for establishing a new lawn, topping established lawns, bedding irrigation and other underground utility pipes, and as an underlay before all paving stone installations.
Concrete Sand is coarse sand, very much like that of bedding sand. However, the critical difference is that Concrete Sand has been washed. Removal of organic contaminants from this sand is critical for the chemical reactions between cement and water (called hydration) to properly take place.
Masonry Sand is composed of much finer granules than concrete sand, this fine-textured sand has also been washed and is typically used in mortar and stucco work. Because Masonry Sand packs well when moist, it is THE sand to use if you are building a sandbox for someone special.
We carry four products that are angular in nature, meaning they will pack in a tight, stable configuration that is solid under-foot or under-wheel.
Driveway Chip is a mixture of fractured rock combined with smaller fines (fractured sand). It looks quite nice and works really well in doing an entire driveway or expanding a parking area.
Road Base is a special blend of fractured rocks and dirty sand that is made specifically for compaction into structural fill. With the use of a plate compactor, this material can be packed down hard enough that a pick will be needed to remove it at a later date. It is used most commonly under paver installs, concrete slabs and asphalt road sub-base. This material does not settle and helps to prevent cracking of the concrete or asphalt over time.
Limestone Driveway is composed of limestone rock and limestone powder. Lime being the main component of cement means that this product will pack almost as hard as cement. This is the hardest packing material available. It has a great number of uses, but this product is most commonly used for very attractive garden pathways.
1/2" Dark Fractured is the newest addition to our yard, and is best when used for laying pathways or for building additional parking stalls. (Note: A major difference between the 1/2" Dark Fractured and the other "packer" gravels is the lack of fine material in the mix – the stones in this product are generally all half-inch in size.)
We carry two sizes of Drain Rock, 3/4" and 1-1/2". Both are used for perimeter drains around building footings, french-drains for removing standing surface water, and behind retaining walls.
3/4" and 1-1/2" Drain Rock – when installed properly with drainage pipe – keeps water out of basements, crawl spaces, and protects retaining walls from being pushed over.
This round rock is also very effective in certain landscape applications such as water features and recently popular, the "dry river bed".
A special note: even though Pea Gravel is essentially 1/2" Drain Rock, it is not suggested for drainage because the gaps between the round rocks are not large enough to allow sufficient water percolation in severe rain events.
We carry three grades of Top Soil, Bark Mulch, and the ever-black Fish Compost for creating, topping, and amending your gardens and lawns.
Bark Mulch is among the most versatile products we carry. Ask any landscaper and they will tell you they go through mounds of the stuff each season. Mulch has many uses including weed control, retaining soil moisture, reducing erosion of soil, "tidying up" the look of a planting bed, and gradually adding organic material to the underlying soil as the mulch decomposes.
Fish Compost is composed a mixture of wood mulch and composted fish. This compost has many of the same benefits as bark mulch but also offers a boost in nutrients and has the unique benefit of being very dark in color, which helps plants to "pop" out in a planting bed.
Regular Soil is an economical blend, commonly used where large volumes of soil are needed to build or fill planting beds before adding Garden Soil on the top layer, or mixing in some Fish Compost.
Premium Lawn Soil is a sandy soil, consisting of a mixture of peat and chicken manure. It is easily spread and is excellent for building a lawn.
Black Garden Soil is a heavy peat soil with chicken manure mixed in – excellent for flower beds or vegetable gardens.
When used in the correct context, virtually every bulk product we carry can be used for effective landscaping.
Pea Gravel, for example, can be used in a Japanese-style raked-rock garden, traditional non-skid exposed aggregate concrete driveways and pathways, and for safety in playground areas: when put down in a deep layer it will cushion a falling child.
Some of the better known "look good rocks" we carry include Grey Decco, Lava Rock, and 1" Dark Fractured.
Grey Decco is a unique limestone rock from Texada Island that it is a steel-blue grey color not commonly seen in nature. This provides many interesting contrasts in the landscape combined with plants or other landscape components. Grey Decco is available in three size: 1/2", 3/4", and 1-1/2".
Lava Rock is the most expensive bulk material in our yard. It is unique in its color: brick-red, and has an added benefit. The rock looks a lot like bark mulch, but only has to be applied once, as it does not decompose over time.
1" Dark Fractured is often called the yard's "best bang for your buck". This product is a very nice, consistent, olive-grey colour. Great for loose pathways, driveways, or parking spots, or as an alternate to drain rock in certain projects.
Finally, we sometimes carry a White Limestone that is also mined from Texada Island, available in 1/2" and 1-1/2" sizes. It is uniquely snow-white rock that twinkles in the sun, but is subject to availabilty. Be sure to call to check our stock if you’re interested in this product!
Navvy Jack is the specially blended mixture of washed round aggregate and sand to be used in most typical concrete work such as pouring patio slabs and building retaining walls.
Navvy Jack is combined with cement and water to make concrete.
Many homeowners, and even some landscapers don’t realize our bulk products can be mixed to create an array of effects from subtle to bold. Whether it is creating a woven tapestry of different colors, or a blend of two or more materials, many appealing effects can be created with some imagination.
For decorative purposes, a gravel depth of 2" to 3" is usually suitable. As a general rule, the smaller the diameter the rock, the thinner you can go with it (while larger rocks need to be applied at a thicker depth for acceptable coverage).
For example, our 1/2" Grey Decco could be easily spread at 1-1/2" over an area and completely cover it. On the other hand, if the 1-1/2" Grey Decco is used it may need to be spread around 4-1/2" thick to cover an area so that soil/weed barrier is not seen underneath.
To determine the number of yards required for your project you need three measurements - length, width and depth.
(length x width x depth) ÷ 27 = yards needed
Note: the above formula requires all measurements to be in feet.
Use the yard calculator below to instantly determine how much material you need.
The costs of each bulk product at Sharecost are influenced primarily by the cost of fuel: we need to fuel the machines to dig it out of the ground, to fuel later processing equipment (such as crushing and washing), to fuel the trucks that get the rock to our yard, and finally to fuel the Bobcat that loads your pickup or our delivery trucks.
This is one reason why Masonry Sand costs more than Bedding Sand: Masonry Sand must be washed at the pit, while Bedding Sand is not. As well, Masonry Sand is harder to find and less abundant in gravel pits. And the reason that Lava Rock is our most expensive product? It travels hundreds of miles to get here!
We hope that this gives you a basic idea of the sand and gravel products on offer at Sharecost Rentals & Sales. We also hope it gives you an idea of the unique qualities and applications for each of these products.
Feel free to request more information, or just let us know what you thought of this article by using our instant contact form.
We offer an extensive range of commercial-duty rental tools and equipment for both the amateur and the professional.
Phone (250) 758-2401 or visit 1716 Northfield Road in Nanaimo, BC. You can view all of our contact details here.