Long-Lasting Gravel Driveways
Get the drainage and base right, and gravel can be an economical alternative to asphalt
Author David Crosby has built unpaved roads in mountains, deserts, forests, coastal regions, and swamps. Each location is unique, but Crosby has found that problems with unpaved driveways are the result of one or more of the following: bad design, moisture, or unsuitable soils. In this article, he discusses how to avoid these problems. He includes instructions on conducting tests for soil composition and moisture content, and he explains how to design a driveway to drain properly.
<p>When John Denver sang, “Country roads, take me home,” he probably wasn’t singing about paved roads. There’s a certain charm to an unpaved road or driveway that you just can’t get with asphalt. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that gravel is also far less expen-sive up front and over time, and that if you ever have to remove or realign a gravel driveway, you can just rip it up, rake it out, and re-vegetate.Because many people opt for a gravel driveway as a cost-saving measure, it tends to be used as an excuse for poor site prep and installation. But that’s a missed opportunity, because site prep and installation mean the difference between a job so good you never notice it and a hassle that you live with because you can’t afford to fix it.Like any unpaved road, a properly built gravel driveway is as much art as science. It’s not just dirt and rocks; it’s a built struc-ture. The right approach may vary not only from state to state or climate to climate, but possibly from one end of your property to the other. Depend-ing on where you are, the available materials will differ, as will the site conditions, drain-age, and existing soil types.I’ve built unpaved roads in mountains, deserts, forests, coastal regions, and swamps, and…