Crushed slate is a versatile and inexpensive landscaping material that can serve a number of purposes. The irregularly shaped broken-down stones range in size up to 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Smaller stones compact down to form a sturdy, water-permeable foundation or walkway, while larger stones add a decorative touch to gardens. Working with crushed slate is simple, but you should wear gloves to protect your hands from the rocks' sharp edges.
Crushed slate patios are a casual alternative to pouring concrete or installing pavers. The installation process involves digging out 6 to 8 inches of dirt for the foundation and filling the expanse with the crushed stone. The loose stones will take the shape of the foundation and compact down to form a relatively stable surface. Use furniture with wide, flat feet, and set your grill or portable fire pit on bricks so they don't wobble.
If you want to lay a secondary path or a garden walkway, crushed stones add contrast to plants and other growth. The best way to install a crushed slate path is to first remove grass and weeds from the path so they won't grow through the rocks later. If your soil has a clay consistency, lay down geotextile fabric and a base of larger stones, and tamp it down to protect the smaller pieces from sinking into the moist ground. Install fieldstone or timber edging to contain the small stones and block encroachment from plants.
Using crushed stone as mulch helps moderate ground temperatures and retains moisture. Unlike wood and other organic mulches, stone mulch does not degrade, so you don't have to replenish it. It's a good choice for landscaping a steep hill and other areas that are difficult to reach. Use large stones to allow water to seep through, and note that crushed stone is difficult to separate from the soil if you decide to remove it in the future.
Garden borders define a shape, deter foot traffic and block weeds. Laying down a crushed slate border is a simple project that only takes a few hours. Use a flat shovel to remove grass from the perimeter of the garden, and pin landscaping fabric to the ground to help deter weeds. Lay a 3-inch layer of stones and tamp them down. The smooth, dark stones will bring out the vibrant colours and textures of flowers and foliage.