Part 1 of 6- Introduction
When I got started on my bulk journey last year, I had absolutely no idea what ‘Aggregate’ was. Perhaps you are in a similar position? If so, then you are in the RIGHT place! The team at Chatt Soil has taken their unique expertise and converted it into a six (6) post series to explain the basics and help you get the information you need to be successful with whatever project you are facing! In this post, we will define aggregate, familiarize you with the common types, and go a bit more in depth on the two (2) most ‘common’ categories.
There is a solid likelihood, that while you may not be familiar with aggregate as a whole- you probably interact with the materials/components more often than you realize… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
When landscapers refer to course to medium grain organic materials, they call it “aggregate”- the most common which we will discuss here are:
- Other ‘Decorative’ Products
Each type of product has a unique purpose and application, quite often different elements will be used together to complete projects and jobs. Below we have provided a brief definition of each of the common types and how they are used.
Types of Aggregate
Soil has many different definitions. For our purposes, we will define it as a mixture of minerals, organic materials, air, and water. Ultimately, how these four (4) ingredients interact, determines which ‘type’ of soil it is. These ‘types’ are all based on three (3) distinct characteristics- texture, structure, and color.
While scientifically/technically, there are twelve (12) different ‘types’ of soil- Chatt Soil is focused on offering six (6) varieties due to their typical usage, regional availability, and function (Soil Science Society of America, 2022). In Post #2 of the series, we will dig in further, but here are the basics:
- Fill Dirt: Fill dirt is a heavy, often clay-based, subsoil that is not filtered or processed
- Natural Soil: Unsifted nutrient rich dirt. It will likely contain clumps, and small roots/rocks.
- Sifted Topsoil: This material is light, fluffy, and easily spreadable.
- Planting Soil: While it is sifted, it intentionally contains small bits of twigs and sticks mixed in which decompose over time to provide nutrients to your plants over time
- Mushroom Compost: Compost is a material that is produced by decomposing plant/organic materials. In this case, it is mushrooms.
- Garden Mix: This product will vary depending on who makes it. Chatt Soil’s Mix is a 50/50 blend of sifted topsoil and mushroom compost.
Rocks. Rocks. And more rocks… Let’s start with the basics: there are two (2) primary methods for harvesting/producing gravel- crushed stone and natural gravel.
Crushed stone is exactly what it sounds like- large boulders, or chunks, of rock (often granite) are harvested from the earth at a quarry then processed through the ‘crusher’ to yield smaller more manageable material.
Natural gravel refers to the materials that are made and harvested by the earth naturally.
- Crusher Run: A common and widely used base layer for construction projects, driveways, and thoroughfares
- ¼” Minus: Essentially the base component of crusher run gravel, this material is compatible and versatile
- #57 Gravel: This gravel is a mixture of ¾” and ½” gravel
- #4 Gravel: The ‘big brother’ to the #57 Gravel, #4 is comprised of larger pieces of rock ranging from ¾” to 1”
- River Rock Pea Gravel: Harvested directly from rivers and estuaries, this natural aggregate made smooth and manageable after eons of rushing water flowing over it
From filling a hole or sprucing up the yard with flowers or mulch, to more complicated issues like water drainage, grading issues, or gravel driveways- aggregates are the essential materials needed to get the job done. Compact materials provide a foundation for many different items- such as pavers, construction applications, and base layers. Larger elements, such as gravel, retain little to no water and are used to help mitigate drainage issues or provide a place to drive/park.
Well, that was certainly a bunch of information… in our next post we will dive into the other four (4) categories: Mulch, Stone, Sand, and Decorative! Thanks for reading and see you next week!