How to Pack Gravel

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Gravel is used in a variety of places because of the large coverage it provides and the expense.
Gravel is used in a variety of places because of the large coverage it provides and the expense. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Packing gravel is necessary when it is used as a subgrade for a concrete driveway or sidewalk. Compacting the gravel before pouring the concrete slows down the sinking process that happens over time due to the weight of the dried concrete. The gravel is tightly pushed into the ground, and provides a hard, sturdy surface for the concrete to rest on. The same process is needed when laying bare gravel for roads. Packing the gravel ensures that the crown formed in the road requires less maintenance, and reshaping.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Wooden forms
  • Landscaping Fabric
  • Gravel
  • Garden hose with misting sprayer nozzle
  • Metal rake
  • Compactor

Dig and place wooden forms for the area needing gravel.

Cover the area with landscaping fabric. Overlap seams by 6 inches.

Fill the area with 4 inches of gravel. Dampen the gravel with a garden hose set on mist. Wetting the gravel while it is being shoveled or dumped into location reduces the amount of dust. Do not soak the gravel. If small puddles begin to form and do not soak into the ground turn the water off and wait for some of the water to be absorbed into the ground.

Push the gravel into the desired location with a metal rake.

Position an electric compactor over the gravel. Slowly push the compactor over the gravel. The compactor is loud and will cause a lot of dust. If an excessive amount of dust begins to form dampen the gravel more. The compactor will pack the rocks in the gravel together and create a strong subgrade or tightly compacted road.

Repeat Steps 2-4 until the desired height of gravel has been accomplished. Concrete sidewalks require an 8-inch bed of gravel. Gravel driveways and roads require a 12-inch bed of gravel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a face mask during installation of gravel to prevent inhalation of dust. The dust can be harmful to the environment and health of those who inhale it.

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