Things You'll Need
Garden hose with spray nozzle
Crushed gravel, no. 3
Crushed gravel, no. 57
Crushed limestone gravel, no. 21-A
Designing and installing a gravel driveway is a eco-friendly solution to the budget-minded homeowner. The lower cost of installation, materials and maintenance more than make up for a few hours spent annually in replenishing and smoothing the gravel surface. A popular and readily available gravel is crushed limestone. Selecting a locally-quarried crushed limestone gravel supports a local business, lowers transportation costs and results in a hard yet water-permeable surface on your new driveway.
Contact the local building department to determine whether a permit is required to build a gravel driveway.
Measure the planned driveway space. The average two-car driveway is 20-by-20 feet, or 400 square feet. Determine if any grading or culverts are necessary for water runoff. For example, when building a driveway on the side of a hill, a ditch is needed on the high side to prevent runoff from undermining or eroding the gravel.
Remove all topsoil from a 21-by-21-foot square and to a depth of 10 inches. Rake smooth, then run the plate compacter over the soil.
Install the landscape timbers on each side of the driveway. Drill holes at each end and the center, then pound rebar through the timbers and into the ground.
Pour 4 inches of no. 3, or 2-to-3-inch size crushed gravel into the driveway pad. Rake evenly over the driveway space, mounding slightly down the center, then compact with the plate compactor. Sprinkle with water and compact again.
Add 4 inches of no. 57 or 3/4-to-1-inch size crushed gravel. Rake evenly over the gravel base. Sprinkle lightly with water and compact firmly.
Pour 4 to 6 inches of no. 21-A, or 3/8-to-3/4-inch size crushed limestone gravel. Again sprinkle with water and compact firmly.
Rent a bobcat to remove the topsoil. Recruit or hire helpers to move, shovel and rake the gravel. Have the gravel delivered by the vendor. If possible, have each size delivered and dumped into the excavated driveway at each stage of building. Mounding the gravel slightly in the center of the driveway allows water to run off to each side. Replenish and compact the gravel every spring.
Wear gloves and safety glasses when digging, hammering and using the plate compacter. Use crushed gravel. Rounded pebbles will not lock together to make a solid surface. This project requires moving tons of topsoil and gravel with a wheelbarrow and shovel. Pace yourself and use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury. Limestone is adversely affected by acidic conditions of the surrounding soil or acid rain.
- University of California, Berkeley: Strawberry Creek Site Design and Landscape Details
- Ask the Builder; Build a Gravel Driveway; Tim Carter
- Albrecht Trucking: Limestone
- Driveway Tips: Layout & Design Specifications
- Atak Trucking: Gravel Calculator
- Home Addition Plus; Building a Gravel Driveway; Mark J. Donovan
- Coos Watershed Association: As a Landowner
Ruth de Jauregui
With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.