Whether you’re constructing a brand new driveway or replacing an existing one, gravel is an excellent option for homeowners throughout the northeast.
Gravel is very affordable, provides users a number of different options in terms of color and style, offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of design planning and is simple to maintain.
Best of all, do-it-yourselfers can even tackle the project on their own – as long as they know what they’re doing.
If you’ve been giving any thought to installing your own gravel driveway, it’s very important that you understand all of the steps required to do so. Our experts have assembled the following tips and tricks for gravel driveway construction and maintenance to help you get the job done right.
Tip #1: Mark the Driveway’s Boundaries
The layout for your driveway may look great in your mind, but the reality may be that it simply doesn’t work well within the scope of your existing landscape. Of course, once the area has been excavated, there’s no turning back.
To avoid problems like these, it’s a good idea to use flags, twine, marking tape, or marking paint as a means of marking off the boundaries of your new driveway. Sit with it for a day or two and see how you feel about the way that it looks.
Only after you feel comfortable with the layout should you begin moving forward with your installation plans.
Tip #2: Consider All of Your Options
One of the primary reasons that people choose to work with gravel for their driveway installations is that there are so many different types of stone aggregate that can be used. Various colors, shapes, textures and styles that are available can make a huge difference in the tone or theme that you’re trying to create for your property.
Be sure to take a look at each different type of stone to ensure that you pick the material that not only suits your visual needs, but will also be practical, affordable and easy to maintain. Consult with an expert for any extra help or insight.
Tip #3: Plan for Additional Crushed Stone
Don’t forget that your gavel divvy requires a lot more than just gravel. In order for the drive to be structurally sound enough to endure the weight of foot and vehicular traffic while also holding up against the elements, it needs to have a very sturdy base.
A gravel driveway will generally require a 4-6″ layer of large crushed stone at the very base followed by another 4-6″ of slightly smaller crushed stone materials with the gravel sitting on top. Always keep this in mind when planning out the depth of your drive and your costs.
Tip #4: Use a Gravel Calculator
It’s a good idea to have an accurate idea of what you’ll need to spend on materials before making your purchase. This will be based upon the volume required. Because most stone suppliers sell their crushed stone by the cubic yard or the cubic ton, you’ll need to have a means of calculating this.
A reliable online crushed stone calculator will eliminate all of the guesswork and provide you with a solid estimate. Simply input the length, width and depth of the driveway into the calculator and it will do the rest for you.
Tip #5: Select the Best Gravel Supplier
Don’t buy crushed stone from just any supplier. Although major retailers often sell some crushed stone, they don’t manufacture their own product, which limits their inventory and requires them to sell the materials for more than what they’re actually worth.
The best suppliers will own and operate their own quarries and will have built a longstanding reputation in the industry for quality and fair prices.
Tip #6: Order Special Equipment
If you have decided that you’re going to install your driveway on your own, you should definitely think about renting special tools and equipment to get the job done. Trying to excavate your driveway and clear it of stones, roots, sticks and other debris can quickly become backbreaking labor when you’re using just a hand shovel and hoe.
You might consider using a Bobcat or similar machinery to clear out the area. The heavy equipment will also make the process of moving heavy loads of gravel and compacting the driveway a lot simpler and faster.
Tip #7: Make Use of Landscaping Fabric
One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when installing their own gravel driveways is in forgetting to take measures to prevent the growth of weeds and other unwanted plants.
After you have excavated your driveway, removed debris, and compacted it, you will need to apply a layer of quality landscaping fabric before starting to pour and spread the gravel materials.
Tip #8: Carefully Coordinate Delivery
It’s important to plan out when and where your crushed stone deliveries will be made. Having the base materials delivered at the same time as your gravel can result in a big mess, but you also don’t want your surface materials to arrive before the base.
Make sure that all deliveries – including equipment rentals – are scheduled in a logical order so that your project can be completed as efficiently and as smoothly as possible.
Tip #9: Compact Each Layer
Most people understand the importance of compacting the top layer of gravel on their driveways, but fail to give the same attention to the bottom two base layers of the drive.
Ultimately this can lead to a great deal of shifting and can compromise the structural integrity of the driveway, leading to costly and stressful problems down the road. Make sure to take the time to carefully compact each layer before the next is applied.
Tip #10: Rake the Surface to a Peak
Once the final gravel layer has been applied you’ll want to rake the stone aggregate to a slight peak down the center of the driveway. When rain falls, it will then tend to roll down the slope on either side and be drained at the driveway’s edges, rather than pooling or flooding.
Tips For Maintaining Your Gravel Driveway
Once your gravel driveway is installed, you’re going to want to take measures to ensure that it’s well cared for and maintained. Fortunately, this requires minimal effort on your part. Generally, you should plan on raking your driveway every couple of weeks to ensure that the gravel remains evenly distributed and that the center stays slightly peaked.
This will also remove any leaves, grass, sticks or other debris that could impact the visual appeal or integrity of your front drive. In addition to this, a fresh layer of gravel should be applied each year.
Get Started on your Gravel Driveway
Ready to start installing the gravel driveway of your dreams? Braen Stone is the largest manufacturer and suppliers of crushed stone in northern NJ and its surrounding areas. We carry a massive inventory of high quality crushed aggregate materials at competitive wholesale prices.
Our professionals can address any questions or concerns that you may have to ensure that your project goes off without a hitch. Your gravel and crushed stone can be picked up at our location or bulk delivered to job sites throughout parts of NJ, NY, PA and CT.