Gravel Driveways: Knowing How To Get The Most Out Of Your Investment

Posted on: 20 February 2015

If you're tired of driving on a dirt driveway, gravel is a popular choice when it comes to selecting a durable yet economical driveway material. While the advantages to building a gravel driveway are numerous, to maximize this driveway's benefits, you need to know how to maintain it to make it last.

Benefits to installing a gravel driveway:

  • Less expensive option than an asphalt or concrete driveway.

  • Doesn't take as long to install. If you keep the layout simple, installation requires less work than for other types of driveways.

  • You can drive on it during construction.

  • Can last for year with proper, ongoing maintenance

  • Available in a range of colors, which can add to the curb appeal of your home.

Tips for maintaining a gravel driveway

Filling Potholes

When your gravel driveway develops dips and potholes -- which it will -- it usually doesn't take much to smooth out the gravel. For an immediate repair, shovel more gravel into the pothole and then tamp it down with the back of the shovel. It's a quick fix that won't last permanently. You'll be dealing with the pothole again within a short time.

For a longer-lasting repair, remove any loose stones, leaves, or topsoil in the hole. Next, use a shovel to widen the pothole to make it bigger, especially if the sides are loose. Holes are easier to fill when the sides are firm.

Shovel layers of coarse gravel into the hole, but don't fill it to the top. Leave a couple of inches and then fill in the remaining space with the same type of gravel that's on your driveway. Keep adding gravel until it's slightly higher than the surrounding driveway surface. Use a steel tamper to pack down the gravel for a smoother finish. Once the hole is filled, slowly driving over the spot several times will compact the gravel more.

Snow Plowing

Plowing snow off your gravel driveway pushes gravel off to the side with the snow. When the snow melts, you'll need to rake or pull the gravel back into the driveway. You may even need to add a few inches of fresh gravel. Either way, the gravel must be packed to prevent water problems.

To minimize the damage when you plow, lower the plow shoes to raise the blade. That way, the cutting edge of the plow won't be right on the surface of the drive. Although this won't allow you to plow the driveway clean of snow, you won't be scraping off the gravel like you would if the blade is too low.

Drainage

If your driveway washes out or gets ruts in it, you have a drainage problem. Both surface and subsurface water can wreak havoc on a gravel driveway. To keep water from puddling on the surface, build up the center of the driveway higher than the edges. This lets water run off to the sides. Installing drainage ditches along the sides is another option for collecting surface water to keep it from running across the driveway.

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