Crusher fines are small particles of hard rock quarry
They can be used as a surface cover for paths, driveways, lawns, and patios
Crusher fines resist weeds, drain well, and cost less than alternatives
“Crusher fines” may sound like a fee levied on a demolition derby truck driver or the name of a killer metal band, but they’re actually small particles of rock used for landscaping. Depending on where you live, you may be more likely to hear it called decomposed granite, rock dust, breeze, or chat—but these are all different titles for a product that serves the same purpose and functions the same way.
You’ve seen them on rural roads and hiking paths, but you can also use them in your home landscape—not only on walkways but also as a lawn replacement or an alternative to gravel driveways. Read on, and we’ll tell you how.
Crusher Fines 101
Hard rock and gravel quarries employ crushing machines to create aggregate products made up of pieces of particular sizes. The smaller leftover particles become crusher fines (some companies produce fines as the primary product). These pieces range in size from slivers of dust to chunks of 3/8 of an inch and come in all the different colors that rocks do.
Crusher fines that result from hard rock feature rough, fractured edges. When packed tightly on the ground, the fines lock into one another, creating a firm, stable surface for walking and driving. If compacted tightly enough and well maintained, it can even be smooth for wheelchairs and walkers. Unlike pea gravel, basalt chips, and other stone aggregates composed of larger pieces, crusher fines should not shift around or move under foot or tire, and do not make a crunching sound. Crusher fines are also harder than gravel, so they won’t break up and decompose over time.
When left in their natural states, crusher fines are an alternative to mulch. When mixed with a stabilizing product, like organic psyllium binders, it can function as a pathway or patio surface. Similar to sand in texture, crusher fines can give a more flowing, organic appearance to your landscape by softening the appearance of hard lines.
Pros and Cons of Crusher Fines
If you’re thinking about making use of crusher fines in your home landscape, consider the material’s unique advantages and disadvantages.
Hard rock crusher fines are free of water-bearing contaminants like clay. Without it, weeds have no source of water or nutrients and cannot grow. This makes crusher fines a naturally weed-resistant ground cover—and a perfect solution for spaces where you don’t want to be using harsh chemicals or devoting hours to yard chores.
Both water and air easily circulate through a crusher fine surface, avoiding run-off and erosion and preventing the appearance of puddles.
Crusher fine products cost less than other options like pavers or concrete.
Installing crusher fines as a surface cover is more straightforward than many alternatives. You need to dig about six-to-twelve inches deeper than you want the surface to sit and spray a little weed killer. It will not damage fences and walls when placed close by. It’s best to add some kind of edging or retaining material to keep the fines from scattering.
Like any aggregate product, crusher fines are messier than alternatives like concrete, pavers, or flagstone. Over time the material can scatter, ending up in places where it doesn’t belong, and cling to shoes and clothing.
Where to Buy Crusher Fines
You can buy crusher fines from the same places as other ground cover and hardscape products: home improvement stores, stone and gravel dealers, and local landscaping companies.
Expect to pay between $35 and $60 per inch of coverage—or an average total between $125 and $325 to install crusher fines in a 400-square-foot area.