How do you build a gravel driveway?

joshuabardwell

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I asked about the length because the shorter it is, the more potentially cost-effective to throw gravel at it or something like that. Gravel is estimated at about $1.50 per square foot installed (per the Internet--local prices will vary). 1/4 mile by 12' wide is 15,840 square feet, so that's $23,760 to get gravel put in.

From the photos, it looks like the drive is plain dirt--no gravel. I have one dirt drive on my property that I keep graded and conditioned with a box blade, but it doesn't see much traffic--just my tractor up and down to the hill on the back of my property. Even with that much traffic, its condition degrades very quickly due to tire tracks and washouts, especially if I drive on it when it's wet. An exacerbating factor is that, when I grade it with the box blade, it sort of "fluffs up" the top layer of soil, and then it is easier for tires to make ruts or rain to make gullies. If I had a large roller, I might be able to compact it, but for the length of road I've got, it's not worth it.

I don't have a ton of experience with dirt drives, but it seems to me that if you are going to use that as your primary drive, you are eventually going to want to put in more of a permanent surface, like gravel or even concrete or asphalt (if you have the money). I see gullies in the photo, and with time, they are only going to get worse. With a tractor and the right implement(s), maintenance of a gravel drive is relatively easy. For your length of drive, a land plane would probably be a good choice, but you could definitely get by with a grader blade, a box blade, or maybe even a landscape rake. Everybody has different preferences and different tools get the job done different ways. You put a few hundred dollars of extra gravel down every few years just to replace what gets thrown off, and dress out the gullies a few times a year when you see them start to form.

Someone on a thread on TBN recently wrote about putting lime down on the ground and disking it into the dirt, then rolling the dirt. Repeat until the dirt was hard-packed and waterproof. I'm not familiar with that approach, but it does sound like one way to have a pure-dirt drive that resists rutting and washout.
 

joshuabardwell

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If gravel or other surface is out of the question or unneeded because this drive won't be used very often, then I suggest the same implements as before: first a land plane, second a box blade or grader/scrape blade. A box blade or grader blade is more of a general-purpose tool, but a land plane is much more efficient for grading long drives, and for me, at 1/4 mile, I think I would rather have the land plane. For plain dirt, I don't think a landscape rake would be a good choice. If you can, go over the dirt with a heavy roller after grading, and if you can find a sheeps-foot roller, so much the better. A vibratory roller would be the absolute best, but you are probably not going to want to shell out for one--I wouldn't. If you don't compact the dirt after grading, it is going to be much quicker to wash out or rut up again.
 

dave1949

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From the pictures, it looks like the drive is laying on a slight slope from high on the left to low on the right. You can work with that to help rain water go across the drive rather than down the drive if you scrape off the high areas on the lower side and pull that dirt to the higher side. I would do this first no matter what you may put on the dirt later.

Erosion speed is a factor of how much water is moving. So, across the drive doesn't give much chance for a large amount of water to get going in the same direction. Trying to keep a good ground cover along the high side will help too.
 

RoadHogg

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First off, Get some media in there and a blade and crown that road so the water doesn't run down the road. You need a ditch on either side so the water runs into the ditch and then down the hill. Otherwise the water will continue to erode the road.
 

enowdwd

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Since I don't have any equipment yet, do you think it would be appropriate to fill the routs with concrete or something similar?
 

muddstopper

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Since I don't have any equipment yet, do you think it would be appropriate to fill the routs with concrete or something similar?

I wouldnt try to just fill the ruts with concrete. I have seen a few drives patch fixed like that and it always comes back to bite you. You really need to put the road on proper grade and install a few pipes across the road to prevent to much water runing down the high side after it is ditched. If you use some sort of TRM, (Turf Re-enforcement Mat), in your ditches, you can slope the ditches where they can simply be mowed with your riding mower. What ever you do, dont use ripraff rock to line your ditches. It just fills up with silt and leaves and will turn the water back into the road after a few big rain events. With TRM's, you plant grass in the ditches and slope the edges so that it can be regularly mowed. The TRM's hold the grass in place and since there is nothing to slow the water runoff, it doesnt fill up with silt, or leaves, and you endup with a almost maintance free ditch.
 

joshuabardwell

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Since I don't have any equipment yet, do you think it would be appropriate to fill the routs with concrete or something similar?

Not at all. If you do that, the water will just run around the concrete and make new ruts. Additionally, the ground may settle below the concrete. You can't usually take a "spot" approach to runoff maintenance. You have to take a holistic approach.
 

jinman

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Not at all. If you do that, the water will just run around the concrete and make new ruts. Additionally, the ground may settle below the concrete. You can't usually take a "spot" approach to runoff maintenance. You have to take a holistic approach.

As Joshuabardwell and Dave1949 said earlier, you've got to get the water flow off the middle of your road. You want the road to be built up on the high side and smoothed to the lower side. What you really need is a barrow ditch or swale over on that right/low side and your road surface smoothed up so water naturally tends to flow off the road and then down the ditch. Even when you get all the water in the ditch/swale you will find that you'll have to control erosion there in some way eventually. After getting the road surface fixed, you can add 4" of rock all the way up the hill. A bobtail dump truck load will cover about 65' to 75' of road (depends on width). There's no magic and no shortcut that will produce satisfactory results. You'll either have to rent equipment and get materials hauled or pay someone to do the whole job. It's not a huge or difficult job, but you won't do anything but cause more problems if you just apply a "bandaid" solution. You have to do it right or fix the road after every small rainstorm.
 

joshuabardwell

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AThere's no magic and no shortcut that will produce satisfactory results. You'll either have to rent equipment and get materials hauled or pay someone to do the whole job. It's not a huge or difficult job, but you won't do anything but cause more problems if you just apply a "bandaid" solution. You have to do it right or fix the road after every small rainstorm.

Bingo. I once had the opportunity to bush-hog in a big empty field that had not been maintained at all. It was adjacent to a five-lane state road, so it got a lot of runoff. For whatever reason, there were areas that had almost no vegetation. The gullies that had been formed were epic, and a testament to what uncontrolled runoff will do to the ground. Let's just say that I had a much better perspective on how the Grand Canyon formed after that. As the water runs, it makes small gullies, and subsequent water tends to flow in them, and the whole thing snowballs really quickly. Road maintenance is the kind of thing that you need to stay on top of. You can do a quick re-dress of your road once or twice a year, or you can do nothing for five years and basically have to re-build the whole thing from the ground up.
 

ENG18LT

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Take a look at the write up in the thread that is linked in my signature. There may be some useful info in there. Good luck.
 
 
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