Country driveways newly laid with quarried stone offer pathways in sync with nature. If properly installed and maintained, they are durable and lasting as well as distinctive in style. However, if they have suffered from years of neglect or were not correctly installed in the first place, they can become a landmine of fender-bending potholes, transforming the ride to your doorway to a muddy mess.
Assess the problem. While a few muddy holes on an otherwise fine stone driveway may be remedied with a simple patch and rake method, if your driveway is nothing but dirt and mud, you need to consider both short- and long-term solutions. Take note of the material used in the driveway's original construction, the border, the grade and the source of any water making it to the driveway. Also consider the use of the driveway and whether you're looking for a quick temporary patch or whether you need to consider a new driveway installation.
Take a handful of stones from the driveway. To perform a proper patch, you'll want to add stone similar to what you already have. As you handle the stones, note their size and shape. If they're round pebbles, this could be part of the problem. Good driveway stones are angular rather than round so they don't roll away at the first sign of rain.
Rectify the water problem. Before you start any patch, you need to locate the source of water. If you experience rain puddles that occur only after a storm, you can concentrate on the patch. On the other hand, if you have gullies that turn into rivers during a storm, you'll need to divert the water away from the driveway. This may be as simple as digging a small trench away from the driveway or as complicated as building up the driveway border for its full length.
Regrade the driveway. The most permanent solution to a muddy driveway is to regrade and level the entire surface with a box blade on a tractor. However, for a quick patch, use a shovel and rake to dig out the offending holes and surrounding area to prepare for fill.
Use compacted crusher run for gravel driveways or match the stone of your existing drive. Fill in any holes with the stone and rake until even. For large areas, a layer of geotextile fabric can be placed down before the stone. This helps to keep the stone from settling too quickly into the soil.
Go over the whole driveway with a lawn roller. Then add another layer of stone to the whole driveway. Rake it out and again compact it with a lawn roller.
Maintain your stone driveway. The only way to assure a puddle-free path to your door is to maintain your driveway. This means reapplying stone, raking out problem areas and being careful with winter plowing. In time, the thickening layers of gravel will become more resistant to potholes and mud puddles.