Considering a build it yourself gravel driveway? What a pleasure to dispense with things like sealing, patching, cleaning, and the overall general expense of concrete or asphalt! Of course, you will not be in the keeping up with the Joneses league any longer, but you can still have an attractive, functional driveway for a fraction of the cost and even less of the headache.
Figuring out how to build a gravel driveway does not take a lot of planning other than simple measuring. You will need to step off (or you can get technical and use a tape measure, if you insist) the length and width of the area and multiply for square yardage. You will need layer of gravel about 3 to 6 inches deep, including the sub-paving base layer.
Your driveway base should be slightly convex, i.e., higher in the middle than the edges, so as to promote drainage runoff. The convex should not be sloped more than about 10% or else your car will not have enough clearance on the bottom.
The driveway gravel will sit on a sub-layer of paving material, which bears the vehicle weight load, so gravel will not be your only expense if you are building a brand-new driveway.
For light vehicle use, a good sub-paving to use is a layer of fist sized gravel or rock, under a second layer of ping-pong ball sized gravel, compacted with a roller.
This is also a good time to deal with any soil issues- if you have standing water or muddy spots, locate water sources and try to divert moisture away from the driveway area. You may need to install a french drain.
Gravel companies in most towns and cities abound, so the next step of picking up the phone and calling one to have the product delivered does not take a lot. Just make sure you have no overhanging branches from trees or other obstructions to prevent the truck from backing in and dumping your gravel.
You do have a few choices in types of gravel for driveway installation. Besides typical gravel, which consists of small stones and course sand, you can also purchase gravel made from larger crushed rock and sometimes you can buy gravel made from seashells.
Gravel is composed of small rocks, 5-30mm diameter in size. A good size for driveways is between 10-20 mm for the top layer. Angular gravels generally come from a quarry, and are produced by mechanical crushing. River beds and beaches produce rounded gravels. Either can be just about any colour, or mixed colours blended.
Whichever type of gravel you have delivered, after it is spread over the driveway area evenly, it should be compacted so it not too loose. You can drive a loaded truck back and forth for awhile, rent a heavy roller to tow behind it, or even better, hire a contractor with a vibrating compactor to do the job.
It goes without saying that gravel driveways are probably more appropriate in a rural or semi-rural area. If you live in a town or city and are thinking gravel driveways, it will pay you to check out local ordinances and city codes. Otherwise, all that work and the gravel you have just spread might turn out to be the base for a concrete or asphalt driveway if neighborhood housing rules disallow gravel driveways in your neck of the woods.
So check everything out, measure, and pick up the phone. You are on your way to a good old-fashioned driveway made of headache-free gravel, and that wonderful sound of car wheels on a gravel road.
See Also: Flagstone landscaping ideas
photo by Asbestos Bill / CreativeCommons