Building a Gravel Driveway

How to Build a Gravel Driveway to Last for Decades

By Mark J. Donovan

Paving a long driveway can be very expensive. Consequently many homeowners with long driveway entrances choose to build a gravel driveway instead. Building a gravel driveway costs significantly less money, and in many cases a handy do it yourself homeowner can tackle this type of project. To build a gravel driveway a small bulldozer or bobcat is required. In addition, a mechanical roller is necessary for packing the gravel. For the homeowner looking to construct a gravel driveway they can typically rent this type of equipment on a daily or weekly basis.

Building a Gravel Driveway

To build a gravel driveway you need to first start by ensuring that the soil underneath the future driveway will be well drained.

To ensure good drainage all of the organic matter such as topsoil, leaves and sticks should be removed from the driveway area.

Next, in order to prevent silt material that is contained in the subsoil from working its way upwards into the gravel layers, install a geotextile filter fabric over the subsoil.

The silt, if left unchecked, can quickly cause the gravel driveway to unpack and crumble.

Once you have the geotextile filter fabric in place, cover it with a layer of fist size stones. These stones act as the base layer for the gravel driveway. Make sure to use angular shaped stones versus river rock stones. River rock stones will slide on one another and not lock into place. After distributing the stones with the bulldozer or bobcat, run the mechanical roller over them to lock them into place.

For the next step in building your gravel driveway, add another 4 to 6 inch layer of smaller stone over the base layer.

For this second layer, use stones that are near the size of ping pong balls or golf balls, and again make sure they are angular in shape. Again, after distributing the stones with the bulldozer or bobcat run the mechanical roller over them to lock them into place. Make sure, however, to crown the gravel driveway so that the center of it is slightly higher than the edges. This will enable water to run off of the driveway.

For the final layer of stone, apply 4 to 6 inches of ¾” size stone with stone dust mixed in. Again, shape this layer of stone so that the gravel driveway maintains its crown.

Finally, lock in the last layer of stone with the mechanical roller and make sure to maintain the crown.

In total, your completed gravel driveway should consist of approximately 12 to 14 inches of stone.

With this simple process for building a gravel driveway, you should have a driveway that will last for decades. However, keep in mind that every few years you will need to put a little money and time into it.

Maintaining a Gravel Driveway

Periodic gravel driveway maintenance is essential for preventing it from slowly crumbling apart. Water runoff and automobiles can cause potholes and gullies to form, and the gravel driveway edges to where down.

Gravel Driveway

Also, if you live in a rocky and cold climate area such as northern New England, large stones hidden under the gravel driveway often work their way to the surface. Frost heaves push large stones upwards and cause the gravel driveway to form humps.

Maintaining a gravel driveway can be performed by a homeowner, however again a bobcat and mechanical roller are required.

To maintain a gravel driveway you typically need to bring in additional ¾” stone and stone dust. The new gravel has to be spread and the driveway re-graded and crowned. In addition, any adjacent side ditches should be cleaned out and culverts replaced or reseated if damaged or heaving, respectively. Finally, the mechanical roller needs to lock the new gravel into place.

For more help on Asphalt Driveway Paving, see’s Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid sheet. The Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your driveway is paved correctly and you get the finished driveway you are looking for.

Related Information

Additional Driveway Paving Resources

Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet

Driveway Paving  Price Quotes For FREE, No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on painting & staining from one of our pre-screened and licensed painting & staining contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your painting price estimate. Click here.