That’s right. If you did not flinch at the title, let me repeat it. 18 TONS of gravel. EIGHTEEN TONS.

It’s a good thing they delivered it, except that there’s always a hitch. The first delivery of 8 tons came when I was not present. It was scheduled for the afternoon, but they came in the morning instead. So the driver just dumped the stone on the shared driveway, next to the big pit that I had recently dug out. Even if I was around, the pit was not ready for the stone either. I of course had to prepare the foundation.

8 tons of gravel

Anyway, they came and dumped 8 tons of gravel into a mound that was a little less than 4 feet high. I know it does not look very big in the picture - more like a pile of sugar - but really, it’s a lot of gravel. The yellow and black machine is a plate compactor. I used the plate compactor to “compact” the earth in the pit to make a nice solid base. There was no way I was going to do that manually with a 8″x8″ hand tamper.

8 tons of gravel

Next, I laid down landscape fabric over the compacted earth. Normally large staple-like spikes are used to hold the landscape fabric in place. But I had 8+ tons of gravel to hold the fabric in place, so I skipped the spikes.

compacting

After moving about half of the 8-ton pile of gravel into the pit and then spreading it out evenly, I compacted. The plate compactor runs like a lawnmower, except that it’s louder. Ear protection comes in handy. Gravel is supposed to be compacted in 3-4″ layers (called “lifts”). That’s why I split the pile of gravel. And then I repeated the process, moving another 4 tons of gravel into the pit, raking, and then compacting. In one day, I had to move eight tons of gravel. It may seem easy to just push the pile into the pit and rake, but it’s not. It was actually easier to shovel gravel from the pile into a wheelbarrow and dump the wheelbarrow into the pit where I wanted it. Oy!

Repeat again the next day when 10 more tons of gravel arrived, and you got one sore person the next few days. (I did cheat a little and employed the services of a plow truck to help move the 10-ton pile of gravel into the pit.)

filled with gravel

The next step, setting the bed and placing the pavers. How exciting.