Gravel has many uses for landscaping, patios, walkways, driveways and construction work and is fairly inexpensive and easy to come by. A variety of crushed stone and gravel options come in many colors and sizes, making customizing your driveway, path or garden simple. Before purchasing gravel, however, you'll need to determine how much you need. Since gravel is typically sold by the ton, you'll need to convert the cubic yards you wish to cover to tons before ordering.
To determine the area you wish to cover, you'll need a tape measure. It's also helpful to have a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper. With the help of another person, if possible, stretch your measuring tape from one end of the area you wish to cover to the other. If your measuring tape is too short to measure the entire length of the area at once, clearly mark its stopping point with a stick or other thin object and then measure the rest. Add the total measurements to find the length. Write this number down on your sheet of paper.
Next, follow the same procedure to find the width of the area you'd like to cover. Once you have done so, write that number down, as well.
You'll need to determine how deep you'd like the gravel or crushed stone to be in your landscaped space. One to 2 inches is common. Once you have made this decision, considering any surrounding vegetation that might require rainwater, note the depth on your paper.
To determine the cubic yards of gravel you'll need, first convert all measurements to yards if they're in inches, feet or another unit of measure. Then, multiply your length by the width by the depth of gravel. This number is the cubic area.
Converting Cubic Yards to Tons
Most gravel and crushed stone products have similar weights per ton. A general rule of thumb when converting cubic yards of gravel to tons is to multiply the cubic area by 1.4. For your reference, gravel typically weighs 2,800 pounds per cubic yard. In addition, there are 2,000 pounds to a ton.
For instance, if your area to be landscaped is 100 cubic yards, multiply that by 1.4. You'll need 140 tons of gravel to cover this space.
Things to Consider
While multiplying the cubic area by 1.4 to determine the tons of gravel needed for a project is common practice, it won't be accurate for all types of crushed stone. While it may not seem like the difference would be significant, if you're working on a large project, your calculations could be off by orders of magnitude. It's best to consult with your supplier to find the specific multiplier for the product you'll be purchasing.
Certain products, like washed gravel, weigh more like 2,835 pounds per cubic yard. Screened stone (which is very fine) weighs 2,970 pounds per cubic yard. If you'll be using sand for your project, it weighs in at about 2,700 pounds per cubic yard.