Gravel is a great material for surfacing a driveway since it’s quite cheap and easy to maintain. However, the downsides of having a loose gravel driveway are that the gravel can get washed away in heavy rain, and it tends to develop potholes quite easily as you might expect.
If you’re looking to get the best of both worlds between a gravel driveway and an asphalt driveway, solidifying your gravel driveway is a pretty good compromise. You can do this on your own without any extra materials, although you will likely need to find somewhere to rent a road roller.
In this article, we’ll be covering how to solidify a gravel driveway by yourself, and we’ll share with you some other things you may want to know about gravel driveways.
How to Solidify a Gravel Driveway
If you already have a gravel driveway, then you already have all of the requisite materials in place. All you need at this stage is something to compact your gravel into a firm, stable layer.
You can potentially do this with your own car, but unless you own a particularly heavy vehicle you’re probably going to want to use a road roller to get this done. Fortunately, there are plenty of places that will let you rent a road roller for personal use.
With that said, here’s the process for making a gravel driveway solid:
1. Remove Organic Matter From Your Driveway
It’s important to make sure that your gravel is free from organic material before you start compacting it. This includes things like mud, leaves, twigs, and branches.
The reason for this is that organic material like this doesn’t compact as well as just plain gravel, and will therefore be unable to support the weight of any vehicles. Organic material will cause your driveway’s gravel to shift when you drive on it, which obviously defeats the point of trying to solidify your driveway in the first place.
2. Resolve Any Drainage Issues
Next, you need to make sure that your driveway is draining properly. To that end, observe your driveway the next time there’s rain, and take note if it seems like rainwater is running across your driveway at any point. If that’s the case, dig a ditch running parallel to your driveway to trap any water.
If your driveway isn’t draining properly, water can seep under the layer of gravel and end up loosening it, which once again will cause all your hard work to go to waste.
3. Fill In Potholes
Over time, potholes and low spots will develop on a gravel driveway as you use it. Potholes are pretty obvious and are pretty hard to miss, while low spots might be a lot shallower and harder to spot. Low spots often form at the spots your wheels sit on while parked in your driveway.
To fill in potholes and low spots, just grab some extra gravel and fill everything in until your driveway is level again.
4. Compact Your Driveway
Finally, it’s time to compact your driveway. Get on your road roller and drive up and down your driveway until the job is finished. You’ll know that your driveway has been sufficiently solidified if it feels firm to walk on and your road roller is no longer leaving tracks as you drive on it.
Gravel Driveway FAQs
Let’s finish off by answering some of the more common questions people tend to have about gravel driveways.
Is a Gravel Driveway Right for Me?
A gravel driveway will probably make more sense for you if you live in a rural area, as using gravel will allow you to build a long driveway for relatively little money. However, if you live somewhere where your property receives a lot of snow each winter, having a gravel driveway will be a lot harder to keep clean.
Does a Gravel Driveway Require Much Maintenance?
While gravel driveways don’t require much difficult maintenance, they do require a lot of easy maintenance. Most of the maintenance you’ll be required to do will be just filling in potholes and low spots as they appear.
How Long Will a Gravel Driveway Last?
Assuming you maintain it well, a gravel driveway can potentially last for up to 100 years. The great thing about gravel driveways is that they’re incredibly easy to repair; just toss some more gravel on the affected areas, compact it down, and you’re good to go.
In addition, gravel driveways fare a lot better than asphalt and concrete driveways in terms of being able to handle significant changes in temperature. Asphalt and concrete tend to crack when they freeze and thaw, but gravel doesn’t.
How Much Does a Gravel Driveway Cost?
This depends on a few things, including where you live and what type of gravel you plan to use. In general, however, the average cost of a gravel driveway is about £60 per square meter of surface you want to have covered.