A gravel driveway, even a loose gravel driveway, can be just as long-lasting and durable as one made of asphalt or concrete, if not more so, as long as you know how to properly lay the gravel. In fact, the most significant trait that distinguishes gravel is that it’s more affordable and easier to lay without professional labor or expertise than concrete or asphalt. Plus, you don't have to wait for it to set or dry before using it.
Here's everything you need to know to install a gravel driveway of your own.
Step 1 - Make the Measurements
Plan your driveway by determining the width and length of the space. Measure this area so that you can order the right amount of weed barrier fabric and gravel. When your gravel arrives, rent a bulldozer with a scraper blade and roller attachment. Heavy equipment rentals are available in most areas of the country.
Step 2 – Purchase the Gravel
For this project, you will need to purchase three varieties of gravel that come in successively growing sizes: gravel #3, gravel #57, and gravel#21. When you order your gravel, all you need is the length, width, and depth. The depth should account for the driveway's height, about 1 foot. The attendant at the rock quarry or building supply warehouse will help you calculate the correct amount of each size of gravel
Step 3 - Dig Out the Ground
Using a bulldozer, dig out the ground where your driveway is going.
Dig 1 foot deep. Be sure that the driveway is level side-to-side, but is gently sloping away from the house or garage. This allows the water to drain away from the structure.
It's a good idea to save all of this topsoil you dig out for other uses around the yard. Even if you don’t have a direct use for the dirt, you can reduce the overall cost of your driveway install by selling it to someone who needs topsoil for fill dirt.
WARNING: Follow all instructions provided by the bulldozer renter and the manufacturer. If the rental agent does not automatically give you this information, ask for it. If you do not feel safe or confident operating this heavy machinery, hire a professional for at least this step.
Step 4 - Lay Down the First Layer of Gravel
Before laying your gravel, put down the weed barrier, which will work to prevent weeds and growth that would otherwise come up from the dirt from reaching the gravel and potentially shifting the position of the rocks and puncturing through the surface of the driveway.
Next, lay a single layer of the larger #3 gravel. This larger gravel is about the size of a man's fist and will serve as the foundation for the gravel driveway. Use the roller attachment of the bulldozer to pack down this layer well so that the stones set into the soil and won't move around once you place the other layers on top.
Step 5 – Place the Second Layer
Next, spread a layer about 4 to 6 inches thick of the #57 gravel. Use the roller attachment of the bulldozer to pack this layer down onto the layer of larger gravel beneath.
Step 6 - Lay Down the Final Layer
Finally, add a 4-inch layer of #21 gravel (the smallest) on top of the second layer. Smooth out this layer using the scraper blade attachment of the bulldozer.
During this process, you should leave the center of the driveway with a slight rise over the edges. This allows water to drain down off of the gravel driveway.
Step 7 - Set the Layers
After you've situated the top layer of gravel the way you want it, use the roller attachment again to pack down all of the loose gravel and set it firmly into the foundation of the other gravel beneath.