Monday, October 9, 2017

Project Runway

Seeing as how the weather stayed dry and I had a way to move gravel, I went all out and ordered not one, but TWO more loads of gravel. 

One truck load was more of the crusher-run gravel that I put around the barn.  This is a mix of crushed stone, stone dust and sand.  It is what most of the gravel roads and driveways in the area are made of.  It will pack down tight and become a fairly solid surface. 

I've had several people ask me about what kind of gravel to use.  This varies so much depending on your region that telling you that I used crusher-run may be of no use to you.  However, if you are battling mud, you will need some kind of crushed stone mix that will pack down.  If you want your gravel to pack in hard, then you need finely crushed stone or stone dust.  If you want it to remain loose, you do not want it crushed.  Unless you are trying to fill deep ditches, you want small stone, not a bunch of baseball sized rocks rolling around under your feet and hooves.  Generally, look for #1 or, at most, #2 stone, no larger. 

The very best thing for hoof health is a 3-4" layer of pure pea stone, which is nothing but very small, pea-sized stones:

Pea stone has a polishing effect on hooves that helps keep the walls short while the depth of the stone layer encourages sole growth. 

If you are looking to install some gravel, call around to the different gravel pits in your area and find out what is available at each.  They will vary a lot in price and product even in a fairly small area.  The loads I brought in cost about $240 each, but I had one place quote me a price of $850 for the same thing.  I told those folks to have a nice day and got off the phone real quick.

I put down a layer of crusher-run to combat mud and a layer of pea stone to the drier area to help with hoof health.  The two loads have made a sort of runway that is about 250 feet long.  I will narrow the fence along the runway so that the herd will have to use it to reach the rest of the pasture. 

More important than the kind of gravel you use is what you put underneath it.  If you put the gravel over bare dirt it will mix with that dirt and simply disappear into the mud within a year or two.  If you happen to have a bulldozer lying around and can afford to truck in lots of gravel, then you can peel the topsoil off with the dozer and replace it with gravel as long as there is solid hardpan under the topsoil. This is a big endeavor beyond many of us and isn't necessarily what you want in a pasture.

A better option for most equine owners is to put down a layer of heavy landscape fabric and put the gravel over that. The fabric prevents the gravel from mixing with the soil so that the gravel stays in place instead of getting sucked into the void.  They say that a layer of fabric is worth 20 inches of gravel.  I'm not sure about that, but if you want your gravel to last, this is a must in wet areas.

Pea gravel that I will spread out into 3-4" Layer to form a hoof-i-ciser:

The models scoping out the runway...

Ready for takeoff...

We're expecting heavy rain tomorrow so I guess we will get to see how it all works fairly quickly. 


  1. Nice work and informative post.

  2. Yikes. We've had so much rain again over the weekend, over 3". However it dries fast and the only time we have real mud issues is when the spring thaw occurs. Then it is pure slop. I will need a bulldozer to redo the driveway soon just so we can get in and out during the spring muck season.

  3. Looks great, Kris! We had a big mud problem at the pasture gate right after we moved here. I read on a Paddock Paradise site that old carpeting works to keep gravel and sand in place, so that's what we did. There's always someone giving away old rugs or carpeting on CL or Facebook Marketplace, and free is always appreciated!
    We dug out a 10'x10'square on either side of the gate, 10-12" deep with straight sides. Laid the carpet in the hole and filled it with five yards of gravel. I couldn't find pea gravel at the time, but I would have used it if I could. It's been seven years since we laid that load of gravel and it's still doing its job.

    Great post, Kris!

  4. Your projects are always so well thought out. It's great that you share your endless pool of knowledge with others. No doubt your runway will be appreciated & put to good use.

  5. Nice.. the fabric is worth at LEAST 20 inches of stone.I put a driveway in around my pole barn last November when the yard was nothing but mud. Fabric right on top of the grass, 6 inches of Crusher Run on top of that. Solid as a rock now.