Characteristics Of Aggregate That Affect Its Ideal Uses

When choosing an aggregate for any landscaping or construction application, you'll need to consider what characteristics you need that aggregate to have and why. This will ensure that you choose the correct type of aggregate that will perform the job well and won't erode too quickly, for example.

Here are a few of the factors that can affect the ideal uses of aggregate types.

1. Size of the aggregate

Larger aggregates (that is, those with larger individual pieces) tend to behave quite differently than those with tiny, densely packed pieces. For instance, topsoil is an example of an aggregate that's densely packed. Compared to topsoil, an aggregate such as river rock or gravel has much larger pieces, which will affect its ideal applications.

Large aggregates are typically more suited for applications such as erosion control (since larger pieces don't wash away as easily). In addition, they can be great for areas that require excellent drainage, since the large spaces between the gravel or rock chunks allow for an easy flow of water.

Smaller aggregates such as topsoil can be excellent for applications where you want to grow something (you can't grow a lawn on gravel, for example).

2. Texture of the aggregate

Another distinguishing feature of the aggregate is its texture. For instance, a crushed stone aggregate will tend to have a very different texture than a pea gravel, which will have more rounded pieces.

The texture can affect how the aggregate behaves. For instance, an aggregate with softly rounded pebbles will tend to slide more, whereas a crushed stone or gravel aggregate may give better traction, making it better for road or driveway surfaces.

3. Content of the aggregate

If you're considering a more complex aggregate, such as wood chips or topsoil, you'll want to consider the different materials and how they can change the behavior and pros and cons of that aggregate.

For example, a batch of fresh wood chips may behave quite differently than an aged, composted batch, and may have different characteristics if it contains a lot of leafy material versus if it's made up of mostly tree trunks. And because different trees contain different chemicals, some types of tree trunks (such as cedar) may give the aggregate characteristics such as insect resistance or decay resistance.

Another example is topsoil. If you're planning to use the topsoil for a garden bed, you'll need to make sure you choose one with plenty of organic material content (such as peat moss and compost). On the other hand, if you're using the topsoil to backfill around a pond, you'll want to choose one with less organic material, since organic material decomposes over time, which could cause unwanted settling.

These are just a few of the characteristics to consider when matching aggregates to their potential uses in your construction or landscaping projects. Contact your contractor for more information on the best aggregates for a specific application.