How To Make A Gravel Driveway Solid: Top Tips

A gravel driveway offers a very pleasing appearance and can boost the aesthetic value of your property. However, this type of driveway can be fraught with problems and one of the most common is the gravel doesn’t provide a very solid surface. 

If you have a gravel driveway, you will be familiar with those loose stones that fly off the driveway and create nothing but a mess. Not to mention that this loose surface isn’t always safe to walk on. But there are a few things you can do to improve the stability and solidity of your gravel driveway. In this guide, we will be giving you some of our top tips. 

Perfect Planning

For anyone that is considering installing a gravel driveway, you must keep in mind that you can’t just buy a bunch of stones, throw them on the ground and hope for the best. Well, in theory you could, but you aren’t going to have a very reliable driveway. 

Instead, you need to make sure that some careful planning goes into the driveway and its installation. You must begin by thinking about where the driveway is going to go. It might seem obvious; you want the driveway at the front of the property, but take a look and you will quickly see that you have a variety of options. For example, some people want a more grand driveway whereas others simply want a space to park their car. 

Wherever you place the driveway, you MUST make sure that there is adequate drainage. Failing to do so can lead to individual stones being washed away and dislodged as water builds on the drive. When you’re happy with your chosen location, you will need to mark it out with stakes.

Another important part of the planning phase is to make sure that you order enough gravel. Measure the driveway and multiply the depth, width and length of the area. You can then divide this number by 27 to get the right amount of cubic yards of gravel. 

Installing Your Driveway

Once you have spent time planning your driveway, it is time to install it. Again, this takes time and consideration and should never be taken lightly. Those who rush the installation or fail to do it incorrectly will be the people that are left with the least solid driveway. 

You will need to remove any obstructions from the area such as soil or grass and dig down to at least four inches. Although many people will go as deep as six inches. You should ensure a completely level surface and protect this using a weed mesh or other such protective material. If you want to install a border, now is the time to do it. 

You’ll now be ready to start spreading your gravel but you cannot merely spread it out and leave it. In order to ensure the most solid and unmoving surface, you will need to hire a compactor to press the stones into position. If you are adding more than one layer, you will need to repeat this process for each one. 

Tips For Repairing Unsolid Grave Driveways

Over time, you may notice that your gravel driveway develops sunken spots and areas that are much more unstable than others. But this doesn’t mean that you need to pull the entire driveway up and start from scratch. In some cases, it may require nothing more than recompacting, but in others, there may be underlying problems. 

For example, if your gravel driveway does not have the right drainage then water will quickly become a problem. Let’s assume that you have recently moved into a property with a gravel driveway that seems to constantly shift. The problem could be to do with drainage so one of the first things to do is check this. If the driveway has rivulets running down it then it is unlikely that the drainage is sufficient. 

In this instance, you may need to adjust the slope of the driveway which can be a tasking venture. However, if it is not done, you will only continue to experience problems. 

Another issue is that car tyres can often cause low spots in the driveway. These might also be caused by overhanging trees that drip water onto its surface. In turn, erosion occurs underneath the gravel, and this results in those sunken spots. 

To rectify this, you will need to dig out any potholes and fill these in with smaller pieces of gravel. Pea-sized gravel works best. You can then lay your regular gravel back over the top and compact this. 

I’ve Heard About Mixing Gravel With Concrete; Is This A Good Idea?

There was a time when even experts were suggesting that mixing a little bit of cement with your gravel would provide a more solid surface. This is because you would end up with something that almost resembled asphalt. But even doing this, you are still going to be faced with problems. The problem is that, in order to get something solid enough, you would need to add much more cement than you’d want and this would result in something that was more of a concrete driveway than a gravel one.

That said, it is known that adding a bit of cement will control the dust to some extent. This is because it will bind any fine material and prevent it from blowing into the air.

But even with this minor benefit, mixing gravel and cement is not going to give you the strength you are looking for. What you may more likely be left with is a less durable surface that has a tendency to break more easily. If you are going to do this then you must make sure that the ratio is correct with at least four inches of concrete.

Alternative Solutions

If you have your heart set on a gravel driveway but are concerned about the instability risks, then there are a couple of things you can do as an alternative. 

Gravel Grids

Gravel grids are used to create a more reliable base for your driveway. They are laid down before being filled with gravel. This means that shifting and movement are far less likely and the result is a more solid surface. They will also help to prevent those low spots we talked about earlier on, so you won’t need to spend as much time maintaining your driveway. 

Resin

If you’re happy to move away from the idea of installing a gravel driveway then resin might be a viable alternative. This type of driveway comes in a huge range of textures, colours and patterns giving you a greater choice than you would get with gravel. What’s more, there isn’t the risk of shifting.

The resin driveway is becoming the go-to choice for homeowners all over the world and since it can be put down over existing strong surfaces, you get excellent stability. Not to mention how durable this type of driveway is. 

Conclusion

While gravel driveways are attractive and provide that beautiful crunch underfoot, they aren’t the most solid or stable surface. Problems with shifting and sinking are common and while it is possible to prepare and install your driveway to limit these issues, they will always be present to some degree. 

There are some excellent alternatives including the use of gravel grids which give your driveway much greater stability. You might also consider opting for a resin driveway which could give you a similar texture to gravel without the stability problems.