Gravel driveways are very appealing for many reasons. Some homeowners appreciate the versatility they provide in terms of color and style, while others choose them for their reasonable cost compared to other driveway materials. They are also eco-friendly, have great permeability, and they can be installed quickly.
If your driveway contains a lot of loose gravel, compacting it will make it more stable and easier to walk across. Properly laid gravel will also stay intact, despite repeated use and heavy rains. Here is a look at how you can make a gravel driveway solid.
Making an Existing Gravel Driveway Solid
Here is a look at what to do if you wish to make an existing driveway more solid.
Remove Organic Matter
First, you should remove any tree roots, leaves and dead grasses from the driveway as these will prevent you from being able to compact the gravel thoroughly.
Dig a Parallel Trench
Next, you should dig a trench running parallel to the driveway where water can collect when it rains. This will prevent the water from standing on the driveway and pooling.
Fill in Potholes
If your driveway has any potholes, fill them with gravel fillings to stop water from collecting there when it rains. Otherwise, water could move under the driveway and separate from its sub-base. This can make your driveway less stable over time. In addition, filling potholes will ensure that vehicles that pass on the driveway will remain stable.
Compact the Gravel
There are a few ways you can compact the gravel in a gravel driveway. For smaller driveways, you can drive a heavy vehicle over the driveway repeatedly. You can also use a mechanical compactor for more professional and even results.
Should You Add Concrete to Gravel?
Some homeowners believe that adding concrete to a gravel driveway will help make it more solid. However, this approach will result in a driveway with a surface that breaks up easily. This is a waste of time, money and effort and will not yield the desired results.
Laying a Solid Gravel Driveway
If you are creating a gravel driveway from scratch, you will want to set the project up for success by ensuring you use appropriate layers. A solid gravel driveway will be made up of three layers.
The first layer after the sub-base should be made up of stones that are roughly the size of a baseball and a diameter of greater than two inches. Gravel #3 is a good choice for this layer. It should extend to a depth of four inches.
For the second layer, use stones that are the size of golf balls. They should be around four inches thick and extend four inches deep. A good choice for this is #57 gravel, and it can be mixed with sand and dirt. The angular shape of these stones promotes good drainage in your driveway and prevents rocks from sticking together.
Some people refer to #57 gravel as being self-compacting due to the lack of fines that can interfere with movement, allowing it to go where there is direct contact between particles. The interlocking of the edges makes it more stable. Washed clean stones are also suitable for this layer.
Finally, the top layer of your gravel driveway should be composed of smaller gravel fillings that have been mixed with rock dust. Fine-textured crushed stones, pea gravel, white marble chips, or Jersey Shore gravel can be used to suit your home’s aesthetic. Crushed stones will make the driveway more stable.
Once it is in place, be sure to compact the gravel down with a tamper. This is a tool featuring a square end made of heavy metal that can be used to force the gravel down using pressure until it becomes even and compact. You can continue to add additional gravel on top of the compacted gravel until you reach the desired height, taking time to compact newly added gravel with the tamper as well. If you find it difficult to compact the gravel, spray it lightly with a hose and try again.
Tips For Solid Gravel Driveway Maintenance
Although there are many compelling reasons to opt for a gravel driveway, it is a material that requires some maintenance to ensure it performs well. Once you’ve made your gravel driveway sufficiently solid, follow these maintenance tips to help it stay solid and in good condition for as long as possible.
Spray It Down
Over time, gravel can be easily crushed into dust that will then get kicked up when you drive across it. This dust often ends up getting your vehicle dirty. Therefore, you may want to consider spraying the driveway down every once in a while to help keep dust to a minimum. A basic garden hose is enough to spray down loose gravel and keep dust weighed down, in addition to loosening up any clumps of dirt that are stuck in the driveway.
Avoid Snow Plows
It is important to avoid using snow plows in the winter on your gravel driveway. In addition to catching snow, they also often catch gravel. This means that when winter is over and the snow has melted, you will have to redistribute all the gravel in the driveway.
Repair Potholes With a Compactor
If you find any bare spots in your driveway, you may be able to fill them in by redistributing gravel with a rake. However, fixing potholes requires reapplying gravel and then compacting it using a heavy roller. If you do not do this properly, you will continue to see the same potholes reappearing.
Keep Drainage Ditches Clear
You will also need to clean out drainage ditches along the driveway using a shovel. This can remove debris that is stopping water from flowing away from the driveway and facilitate drainage.
Reach Out to The Gravel Driveway Experts
For help creating and maintaining a gravel driveway, contact the driveway specialists at Dirt Connections. We offer residential and commercial driveway services throughout Northern Virginia, and our team can help you find the best materials to suit your needs and budget.
Dirt Connections was started with one goal in mind: providing quality residential and commercial construction services to clients on time and on budget. Reach out for more information on how we can support your next project.
For your convenience our estimates are free and by appointment. Call 703-940-9949 for a free estimate today!