Is This You? The size of dirt

Do you know anyone who has never traveled a dirt/graveled road? Me neither. Oh, some of us know the odd person who buys a truck that’s so pretty it never gets off the oil. But for the sake of this discussion, most of us have come home after an outing just to look in a mirror, grab a brush and pull tangles of dust out of our hair from that Sunday ride to somewhere on a dirt road. I would hazard a guess dirt roads cause more hair breakage than peroxide!

So now you know I know what a dirt road is. But what I didn’t know until ... Well, let me start at the start — always a good place to start.

We have a yard. Actually, we have what might be considered two yards. One yard has grass and trees and flowers. Then the yard-yard is graveled and is where we drive to get to our house or shop. That’s the yard I’m going to be referring to today.

The yard-yard doesn’t just become a yard as I have learned. It needs to be created. If you don’t tend to a yard it becomes a dust bowl in the dry times and a mud bog in the wet times. Creating a yard, you would think, would be a snap. But nope, it’s scientific. It’s about the size of dirt.

If you want a bucket of dirt to fill a hole your dog has dug under a fence, darn dog, or fill a hole left when you pulled out a dead tree, poor tree, you just go get some plain ole dirt and fill the hole. Easy, right? Well when your yard-yard needs to be tended to there is a whole array of gravel decisions to be made.

Gravel it turns out comes in different sizes. It’s like, do you want cherry tomatoes, pear size tomatoes, slicing tomatoes or giant beef steak guys? FYI don’t put beef steak tomato sized gravel in your yard. Those pieces of gravel are real ankle breakers! And you know when you twist an ankle you will twist it over and over again all season until you STOP and give it a rest. But I’m stepping off the gravel path.

When it was being explained to me we needed gravel in our yard I assumed we could go to the nearest gravel pit with the loader, grab a bucket full and spread it out in the yard. Silly me. All of a sudden we’re discussing pea gravel. Rounded vs. sharp gravel. Mixed with dirt as opposed to washed gravel. Yes I learned about washed gravel. Like I don’t have enough laundry to do!

So how many sizes, you might ask, of gravel are there? Well, let me tell you it depends on what you’re going to do with your gravel. Use it for xeriscape? Not only will you need to know the size but maybe the color you want too. Gravel for roads? Well is it for the top of the road or the bottom, aka base, of the road? There really is a difference. Then, needing gravel for your yard? Well, it all depends on what you have now, what you have used in the past and on and on. For goodness sakes.

Did you know gravel doesn’t just come out of the ground? No way! It comes as rocks of all sizes. Then the rocks are put through a crusher — a noisy, dusty machine. (Dusty enough to make crusher operators win all broken hair awards). These machines make “little ones out of big ones” — or medium sized ones — or something in-between. Really! Come on its dirt.

I think we have gone on about the making of rocks long enough. What I want to get to is the business of dirt. Yes, dirt is a business. I once sold a ton of dirt to a gold mine so I know of what I speak. Why would a gold mine need a ton dirt? Well it was a special kind of dirt and I looked long and hard to get just the right dirt delivered. But about the gravel in our yard.

Seems all of a sudden the gravel in our yard was disappearing. Over the years mother earth sucks the gravel you put on the top to keep the mud at bay, back down into the layers below so you then have to re-gravel. Which is what we did earlier this summer. We bought, yes bought dirt. It was a specific size of pea gravel, kind of washed, but mostly just clean from the crusher, pea sized gravel.

You know you have been living out of the mainstream of life when a gravel truck shows up in your yard, dumps two loads of new gravel — and you’re excited by the whole thing.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at


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