20 Pros and Cons of Decomposed Granite

Pros And Cons Of Decomposed Granite

Are you considering using decomposed granite for your landscaping or hardscaping project? Before making a decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this popular material.

Decomposed granite is a type of crushed stone that is commonly used in pathways, driveways, and other outdoor areas. It’s made from weathered rock that has been broken down into small pieces, giving it a natural appearance.

One of the biggest advantages of decomposed granite is its low-maintenance nature. Unlike other types of paving materials, such as concrete or brick, decomposed granite doesn’t require sealing or regular upkeep. It also tends to be easy to install, making it a popular choice for DIY projects. Additionally, decomposed granite is often more affordable than other types of paving materials, which can make it an attractive option for those on a budget.

However, there are also some downsides to consider before choosing this material for your project.

Pros of Decomposed Granite

  1. Cost-Effective: Decomposed granite is generally more affordable than other hardscaping materials. This can make it a go-to choice for larger areas or for projects on a tight budget. It’s often used in patios, driveways, and walkways where cost savings is a significant factor.
  2. Natural Aesthetic: With its natural, rustic appearance, decomposed granite can blend seamlessly into a variety of landscapes. It provides a harmonious look, especially in gardens or outdoor spaces that emphasize a more organic and earthy theme.
  3. Permeability: Decomposed granite is permeable, allowing water to seep through and replenish groundwater. This can be especially beneficial in areas prone to drought or where water runoff is a concern, as it helps prevent puddling and erosion.
  4. Versatility: Its adaptability means it can be used in various applications, from paths and driveways to garden beds. This multi-use characteristic ensures that homeowners and landscape designers have flexibility in their design choices.
  5. Ease of Installation: Installing decomposed granite does not require specialized equipment or skills. With the right preparation and materials, even DIY enthusiasts can lay it down, making it a potentially time-saving option.
  6. Low Maintenance: Once settled and compacted, decomposed granite requires minimal maintenance. Occasional replenishment or a light mist of water to keep it compacted is generally sufficient, reducing long-term care costs.
  7. Erosion Control: When properly compacted, decomposed granite can act as a barrier against erosion. It can be particularly useful on slopes or in areas where heavy rain can wash away other types of ground covers.
  8. Compactability: Decomposed granite can be compacted to create a hard, firm surface. This can be particularly advantageous for creating pathways or driveways that need a stable footing but still want the natural look.
  9. Weed Deterrence: When applied thickly, decomposed granite can deter the growth of weeds. This can reduce the need for frequent weeding or the application of chemical weed killers in the area.
  10. Sustainability: As a naturally occurring material, decomposed granite can be more environmentally friendly compared to some manufactured or non-renewable resources. Its use can be a step towards a more sustainable landscaping approach.

Cons of Decomposed Granite

  1. Shifts Over Time: One of the main drawbacks is that it can shift over time, especially in areas of heavy traffic. This might result in the need for periodic maintenance or replenishment to keep the area looking its best.
  2. Dust and Erosion: In dry conditions or during windy days, the finer particles can become airborne, creating dust. This not only can be a nuisance but also can pose health risks if inhaled frequently.
  3. Stain Potential: If not properly sealed or if it’s of a lighter color, decomposed granite can be prone to staining. Oil from vehicles or organic materials can leave marks that are difficult to remove.
  4. Limited Color Choices: While it offers a natural look, the color choices are limited to the hues available in nature. This might not suit everyone’s aesthetic preferences or design needs.
  5. Wear Over Time: In areas with heavy traffic, decomposed granite can break down and become thin. This might necessitate regular top-ups or replacements, which can increase long-term costs.
  6. Not Suitable for All Plants: Its compact nature might not be ideal for all plants, especially those that require looser soil for root growth. This can limit planting options in areas with decomposed granite.
  7. Heat Reflection: On sunny days, decomposed granite can reflect a significant amount of heat, potentially making the surrounding area hotter. This might not be ideal for areas where people or pets spend a lot of time.
  8. Drainage Concerns: Even though it’s permeable, if the underlying soil is not well-draining, water can get trapped, leading to pooling or even mold growth.
  9. Wheelchair Accessibility: While compacted decomposed granite can be firm, it might not always provide the smoothest surface for wheelchair users, potentially making it a less inclusive choice for public areas.
  10. Attracts Pests: In some regions, decomposed granite might attract pests like ants, who can build colonies underneath. This might necessitate additional pest control measures.
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Low-Maintenance and Easy to Install

It’s incredibly easy to install and requires minimal upkeep, making it a great choice for those who want a low-maintenance option. Decomposed granite is made up of small particles that pack tightly together, creating a stable surface that can be used for pathways, patios, and even driveways.

Installation tips include laying down a weed barrier before spreading the decomposed granite and compacting it with a rented plate compactor. Longevity concerns may arise due to the fact that decomposed granite is not as durable as other paving materials like concrete or brick. However, adding stabilizers such as resin or polymeric sand can help increase its lifespan.

Additionally, regular maintenance such as sweeping debris off the surface and occasionally adding more decomposed granite can keep it looking fresh for years to come. Overall, when considering the pros and cons of decomposed granite, its low-maintenance nature and ease of installation make it a popular choice among homeowners looking for an affordable yet attractive paving option.

Affordable and Natural Appearance

Looking for an affordable and natural-looking landscaping option? Look no further than decomposed granite!

One of the biggest benefits of using decomposed granite is its cost-effectiveness. Compared to other landscaping options, it’s relatively inexpensive and can help you save money on your project. Plus, since it’s a naturally occurring material, you’re not paying for any added manufacturing costs.

Another advantage of using decomposed granite is its natural appearance. The earthy tones and textures can complement a variety of design options, from modern to rustic.

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider. While decomposed granite is durable, it’s not as strong as traditional paving materials such as concrete or asphalt. It can also shift over time due to weather conditions or heavy foot traffic, so regular maintenance may be necessary to keep your landscape looking great.

Dusty and Messy

You may want to consider that using decomposed granite can create a dusty and messy environment, which could potentially be difficult to maintain. The fine particles of the material can easily become airborne, leading to dust settling on nearby surfaces such as furniture or vehicles. This can cause inconvenience and discomfort for those who are sensitive to dust.

To mitigate this issue, it’s important to implement proper dust control measures when installing decomposed granite. This might include using a stabilizer or watering the surface regularly to keep the dust down. Additionally, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of using decomposed granite since its mining and transportation contribute to carbon emissions.

That being said, with proper maintenance and consideration for these factors, decomposed granite can still be a viable option for landscape design projects.

Alternatives to Decomposed Granite

If you’re searching for other options to incorporate into your landscape design, there are various materials available that may suit your needs and preferences.

One popular alternative to decomposed granite is pea gravel, which is composed of small, smooth stones that come in a range of colors. Pea gravel has a similar texture to decomposed granite but doesn’t produce as much dust or mess. It’s also easier to walk on and maintain than decomposed granite.

Cost comparison is another factor to consider when choosing between materials for your landscaping project. While decomposed granite can be more affordable than some alternatives, such as flagstone or pavers, it may require more maintenance over time.

Additionally, the environmental impact of using decomposed granite should be taken into account, as it requires quarrying and transportation of the material. Alternatives like pea gravel or recycled glass offer a sustainable option that can also add unique visual appeal to your outdoor space.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve explored the alternatives to decomposed granite, it’s fascinating to note that using recycled glass in landscape design can reduce landfill waste by up to 50%. Recycled glass is a sustainable and eco-friendly option for landscaping. It looks beautiful and adds a unique texture to your outdoor space. However, proper installation is crucial when using recycled glass, as it can be hazardous and cause injuries if not installed correctly.

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Longevity and durability are also important factors when considering any landscaping material. Decomposed granite has been a popular choice due to its longevity, but recycled glass is just as durable if installed properly. With regular maintenance, both materials can last for years without needing replacement.

In conclusion, while there are many alternatives to decomposed granite available in the market, recycled glass stands out as an eco-friendly option that offers beauty and functionality in landscaping design with proper installation and care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can decomposed granite be used for high-traffic areas like driveways or walkways?

If you’re considering using decomposed granite for high-traffic areas like driveways or walkways, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Different grades of decomposed granite will have varying levels of durability and stability, so be sure to choose one that’s appropriate for your specific needs.

Additionally, maintenance requirements can vary depending on factors like climate and usage patterns. However, with proper installation and care, decomposed granite can make for an attractive and functional surface option for these types of areas.

How does decomposed granite hold up in extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or snow?

If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, you may have some concerns about the durability of decomposed granite for your driveway or walkway. It’s important to keep in mind that while decomposed granite can hold up well in most weather, heavy rain and snow can pose some challenges.

Durability concerns may arise if your area experiences frequent flooding or extreme cold temperatures. Additionally, maintenance requirements will be higher if you’re dealing with heavy precipitation as water can wash away the decomposed granite over time.

To ensure the longevity of your decomposed granite surface, it’s essential to properly install and maintain it by compacting it regularly and reapplying new layers as needed.

Is it necessary to add a stabilizer to the decomposed granite to prevent it from shifting or eroding?

You want your decomposed granite pathway or patio to withstand the test of time, so you might be wondering if adding a stabilizer is necessary.

Think of it like this: just as roots anchor a tree, a stabilizer can anchor your decomposed granite in place.

There are various stabilizer options available on the market, such as organic binders or synthetic polymers.

While they may come with an additional cost, they can provide long term maintenance benefits by preventing erosion and shifting.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the cost and benefits for your specific project needs.

Can decomposed granite be used as a substitute for lawn or grass in landscaping projects?

Looking for a low-maintenance alternative to grass in your landscaping project? Decomposed granite could be the solution you’re looking for.

Benefits of using decomposed granite as a substitute for grass include its affordability, durability, and versatility. It can be used for pathways, patios, and outdoor living areas. Additionally, it requires minimal maintenance compared to traditional lawns and doesn’t need to be watered as frequently.

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider such as its tendency to shift and erode over time if not properly stabilized. You’ll want to factor in the cost of adding a stabilizer when considering this option.

Despite these potential drawbacks, many homeowners find that decomposed granite is a great choice for their landscaping needs due to its unique aesthetic appeal and low-maintenance requirements.

How does the color of decomposed granite vary and can it be customized to match specific design needs?

Imagine a blank canvas waiting to be painted, and the possibilities are endless. Just like decomposed granite, it can be customized to match any design needs you have in mind.

The color options are vast and can add an aesthetic appeal that’s unique to your project. Color customization allows you to create a cohesive look throughout your landscaping project or even incorporate contrasting colors for a bold statement.

With so many options available, you can bring your vision to life and make your outdoor space truly remarkable.


So, you’ve read through the pros and cons of decomposed granite and you’re wondering if it’s the right choice for your landscaping project.

It’s important to weigh the benefits of low-maintenance and affordability against the potential drawbacks of dustiness and messiness.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for your specific needs.

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If you’re looking for a natural appearance that blends well with your outdoor space, decomposed granite may be a great option.

However, if you prefer a cleaner look or want to avoid the dusty aftermath of installation, there are alternatives available.

Remember, as with any landscaping decision, do your research and make an informed choice.

As they say, “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

While decomposed granite may have its challenges, it also has unique qualities that make it an appealing option for many people.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and explore different choices when creating your dream outdoor oasis!

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