Raking and maintaining gravel or dirt driveways is the best way to prevent potholes as well as keeping the gravel in the road rather than along the edges where it eventually ends up from daily driving and winter snow plowing.
Please remember all the men and women who have served, those currently serving and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Great Country!
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
Although I do not repair paved driveways I do correct drainage issues to prevent flooding or overflow that can wash out your nice pavement. I do however have a point of contact for repairing, resurfacing and even striping asphalt.
Driveways are a unique issue as we use them constantly but put little effort, time or money into maintaining them. I have repaired a lot of driveways over the last few years and have found that on many occasions I can rebuild the driveway using the existing, displaced gravel that's already there. This is not always the case but since it can be an expensive endeavor I always recommend trying this re-utilization methods before breaking out the pocket book to buy more gravel. If the purchase of additional gravel is required I can pretty much guarantee the absolute lowest price in the Spokane area. How can I make this claim? Well, I operate my business on a cash basis meaning I do not establish credit accounts at any of my wholesalers. I pay for the products/materials immediately upon acquisition so each vendor knows they will always get paid. I also establish a business "relationship" with these wholesalers just as I do my customers which in turn allows me to get the absolute best price possible. I pass this savings on to my customers.
Now as I make these statements above, on many occasions the driveway is so far gone that new gravel is a must. If new gravel is required I do not simply spread the gravel over the existing bad driveway. The existing surface must be ripped up to a depth of about 3"-5", regraded for re-utilization of existing materials and to move the material back to the center of the driveway where it should be and then have the new gravel spread over the top. This ripping and loosening of the existing surface allows the new gravel to merge with the old. If the ripping process is not done then any new gravel will simply be pushed out to the sides when driven on. Therefore, my process is simple; (1) RIP, (2) GRADE, (3) NEW GRAVEL, (4) GRADE and crown the center, (5) ROLL and COMPACT.
There is one additional step that should be considered, however only a few elect this additional step due to the elevated cost. This is applying a layer of Geotextile Fabric which is a permeable fabric which, when used in association with soil, has the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect, or drain. You can tell when you're driving on a gravel driveway that did not have this layer included because the driveway virtually has no gravel remaining because it's been packed deep into the soil with the surface being indented or rutted where driven on. Another option, although higher in cost and better suited for smaller driveway areas near the house are Grids that lock together.
Costs normally vary depending on the following variables:
2. Ground Composition
3. Existing Road Condition
4. Location and distance from gravel pit
5. Amount of Gravel Required
6. Requirement for heavy or specialized equipment
7. Unknown or unseen factors prior to excavation
This album of pictures below shows the condition of a culvert washing out in 2015. The drainage ditch along the southern side of the driveway (picture 3) was no longer allowing for good flow due to all the years of dirt and debris building up in it. This was a primary cause of the erosion. Rain and snow runoff was actually flowing down the driveway and beginning to wash out both sides of the culvert area. Since the south side of the culvert was on the high side with more severe damage, pictures and work were focused mostly on that side.
Rather than simply piling large rocks into the washout I decided to cut out a water trough and place it in the collection point of water flowing from east and west. This prevents the fast flowing water from washing out the soil under the rocks. The idea is that the fast rush of water will catch in the trough and then slowly filter in the culvert and therefore prevent future erosion.
The photo album below is a driveway leading to a a barn where this client boards horses. The continual traffic over the years has done a toll on this driveway and it was time to rebuild to keep the boarders happy. This driveway is also one that I plow snow from every winter and it's held up wonderful. Although it's a challenge, I take great care to try and avoid removing the gravel from any driveway when removing snow. Just as any other driveway job the first order of business was to rip the existing driveway up before introducing new gravel. It was also nice that this particular driveway sets on sandy ground so ripping was easy without the added challenge of base rocks underneath. Now, the reason this driveway was in such bad condition was because it had no base rock or geotextile to prevent the gravel from being compacted into the soil. Since the budget was very small this client decided to forego the addition any new base rock or geotextile so we'll see how it holds up over the next few years. So far, after two years of rebuilding it it's holding up extremely well.
Crushed Rock - Minus comes in a range of sizes from 3/8' < up to 3"<. The crushed rock labeled as minus (<) is ideal for requiring compaction such as driveways because of the "minus" which is the fine particles of crushed rock known as particles and the angular shape of the rock that bind together making a firm solid surface. That's why this rock is commonly known as Driveway Rock / Gravel.
Common uses for this rock include (but not limited to):
- Foundation Bases
- Other projects requiring a compacted surface.
Now let me pass on a little knowledge I've gained over the years in hopes that it may save you time, money and headaches. If you're not familiar with the proper surface material(s) to use for varying projects then you will likely, as many have done, use the wrong material(s) resulting in wasted money and time, and sadly have to redo the job in short time. I will present this information based on the assumption that the job (driveway) will be constructed or rebuilt in proper sequence, using the proper and recommended materials. Budget is not the driving factor here.
1. Whether grading / excavating a new driveway or re-grading an existing one, consider drainage ditches and culverts to keep the water flow where it should be...off the road.
2. Whether grading down and removing layers of surface material or simply building on top of what's present, plan to use the geotextile and base rock. It will last many years longer.
3. Measure the length x width x depth of materials so you're knowledgeable on how much material(s) you'll need. Here's a link to a great website with a Measuring tool I use. They even have an app you can download to your smart phone. It's the only measuring tool I use any more.
4. Know what the cost of the materials are BEFORE starting the job. Most all of the local rock companies charge close to the same price for the rock. The greatest varying factor is quantity and distance to transport. DO NOT buy your materials form a landscape supply company if doing the job yourself. If contracting the job out you can guarantee the contractor is going directly to the rock pit such as I do. It's much cheaper. The more you buy, the lower the price....at least it should be. The rock pit WILL sell directly to the consumer.
Many contractors have a set price for the rock regardless of how much you need and will quote you that price immediately when providing you an estimate for the job. Do your homework. My method is simple. I won't give you a price on rock, sand, dirt, etc. until I know the quantity needed and how far the job is from the rock pit. When I get that information from the pit then I will mark it up slightly only so I can reward the driver for spreading it for me. Why do I do this? If the driver is good and can spread the material then typically all I have to do is groom and compact it which saves me time and obviously saves you money. I don't know of a single other company that will do that for you.
4. If you're doing the job yourself then drive to the supplier and get eyes on the product(s) so you know what your getting. I will almost always carry samples with me so you can see and touch the product.
5. If contracting the job, offer to pay for the materials up front even if they don't request it. This way the contractor knows you're serious and that you will award them the job. And, if they by some small chance do operate like me then they will be paying for that material up front and out of pocket and that is sometimes difficult. The main reason however is that if you decide at the last moment to cancel the job then the contractor isn't stuck with materials he can't use.
Gravel driveways and crushed stone driveways can be seen all over the United States! They’re affordable, easy to maintain and you can create unique colors and designs with different types of gravel. In snowy regions such as here in the Inland Northwest they are much more difficult to maintain however, due to regular snow removal. If you’re planning on installing a gravel or crushed stone driveway and you live in a snowy region, plan on putting all of the gravel that was pushed off with the snow plow back onto your driveway every spring!
Gravel driveways can be installed in the shortest amount of time with very little impact on the use of your driveway! They should also be accompanied by meticulous drainage planning to minimize the ongoing maintenance as much as possible. Depending on the size and scope of work involved, the construction of a new crushed stone or gravel driveway can be installed by an experienced grading contractor generally over a 1 to 3 day period. Crushed stone or gravel driveway installation is relatively simple. Most of the work is done with grading equipment and front end loaders so it can be completed fairly quickly with minimal impact on your daily routine. You can also expect to drive on and use the driveway throughout the construction of of a gravel driveway!
If you already own a gravel driveway and it’s beginning to show the signs of aging and deterioration, has a tremendous amount of weeds and has severe rutting issues, starting from scratch may be in order! This absolutely should be performed by a reputable gravel or grading company that will do it right the first time. If the existing gravel driveway shows signs of unstable sub-grade, the soil should be excavated and new base or structural material installed and then the new gravel driveway design installed on top of that for a solid, long lasting gravel driveway.
Life Expectancy Of A Gravel Driveway
A gravel driveway, if installed properly, can last up to 3 to 5 to even 10 years with regular upkeep and maintenance. The variation in age can be determined by the amount of slope on your driveway if any, the amount of curves in your driveway, the stability of the sub-grade, and the climate you live in. Types of ongoing maintenance you can expect to perform on a gravel driveway? Annual or bi-annual herbicide application, weed pulling, raking and replacement of displaced gravel from car tires and snow removal.
A properly installed gravel driveway will need an herbicide applied annually or bi annually to minimize vegetation growth. Fine tuning and sprucing up and/or additional stone may need to be added every two to three years to keep it looking clean cut! The amount of maintenance of a gravel driveway is directly correlated to the quality of the installation and the amount of slopes and curves you may have on your driveway, combined with the amount of moisture and water runoff you receive. Applying a herbicide and liner prior to the initial installation can help to minimize the amount of vegetation growth that will occur during the life of your gravel or crushed stone driveway. Keeping drainage planning in mind during the entire installation process will also help minimize ongoing maintenance. Keeping drainage ditches cleaned out and guiding the water runoff will also help extend the life of your gravel driveway.
Crushed Rock - Chips comes in a range of sizes from 3/4" up to 3". Angular in shape and clean crushed having no binding materials. This rock is ideal for projects needing a base allowing for drainage. Ideal for road and driveway bases. Because this rock is clean crushed it does not compact as well into a solid surface such as the "Minus" material. It is however more preferred and better suited than round rock.
Common uses for this rock include (but not limited to):
- Driveways Bases
- Pathway Bases
- Foundation Bases
- Water Features
- Drainage material for planter boxes
Ballast / Quarry Spalls are similar to chips and range in sizes from 4" up to 6" and is often seen along railroad tracks. This rock is great for areas that need lots of drainage and for soft ground needing extra support for traffic.
Common uses for this rock include (but not limited to):
- Road / Driveways Bases
- Construction Projects
- Traffic Entrances
- Ditch Lining
- Subgrade Stabilization