How to Lay a Gravel Driveway


Laying a gravel driveway is an inexpensive way to replace an asphalt driveway that is in disrepair and a legitimate way to lay a permanent, functioning driveway at a new home. Gravel driveways drain efficiently and, if they are installed correctly, have no places where water pools or fills. Although laying a gravel driveway requires hard work and time, with regular maintenance, it will give you years of use.

Things You'll Need

  • Hose
  • Shovel
  • Backhoe
  • Tamping machine
  • Measuring tape
  • Edging material
  • Landscaping cloth
  • 3 gravel sizes
  • Line the area where you will lay the driveway with a hose. With a shovel, dig in along the sides of the hose so you have an edge showing exactly where the driveway will be. Remove the hose.

  • Excavate a 10-inch-deep path the length of the driveway usng a backhoe or tractor. A tractor makes the job less strenuous, but if you don't mind doing the work yourself, a shovel can do the job. Remove sticks, leaves or other material that will disrupt a smooth, level surface.

  • Compact the soil with a tamping machine. Measure to make sure that the depth is consistent.

  • Lay down landscaping cloth to prevent the lower soil from coming up and mixing in with the gravel. Too much soil in between the stones can cause the driveway to breakdown prematurely. The cloth also prevents roots from growing up from the soil below, but it's porous enough so water will drain through.

  • Add a 4-inch layer of large, softball-size gravel to the driveway. Heavy stone at the bottom adds a solid foundation. Choose gravel that is angular and not rounded. Round gravel doesn't sit closely next to another piece of gravel; it pushes the piece next to it away when pressure is put on top. Angular pieces of gravel mesh into their neighbors and fit like puzzle pieces. Use the tamping machine to flatten this layer.

  • Add the next 4-inch layer of gravel. For this layer, the stones should be slightly smaller. Tamp the stones down with the machine.

  • Place an edging material at the point where the driveway meets the grass or landscaping if you want to driveway to have a clean edge. Use brick, steel edging or wood.

  • Lay down the final layer of stones that are even smaller in size. Pea gravel is a good size to use for this top layer. Build a mounded crown down the center of the driveway so the water drains down the sides.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you encounter roots when you are digging, cut them with garden shears and take them out of the driveway.
  • Measure your driveway to determine the square footage. Professionals at a gravel company or a home building store will use a gravel calculator to determine the amount of gravel you need based on your measurements. Gravel is measured by cubic yards.
  • Don't attempt to carry the gravel to your home yourself. It is best to have gravel delivered to your home.
  • If you aren't skilled at driving a backhoe, call a professional to remove the dirt.
  • Photo Credit Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images
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