A gravel driveway can provide a rustic look and usually costs less than asphalt and other materials. As such, gravel often seems like a great idea — until you start finding it in your lawn. Happily, there are ways to help keep your gravel where you want it so you don't spend every weekend raking it back into the driveway.
Plastic Paver Grids
If you haven't built your gravel driveway yet, consider using plastic grids as the base of your project. These pavers look like plastic honeycombs. If you lay them in the driveway before you add any gravel, the stone will fill in the grids. In turn, the grids will serve as a bit of a barrier and help keep the gravel where you want it.
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Installing these pavers is much easier when first building your driveway, but it's not too late if your driveway is already full of gravel. It will take a lot more work, however, since you'll need to rake or shovel away the existing gravel before placing the pavers.
Use the Right Gravel
When it comes to a gravel driveway, size absolutely matters and so does shape. Stay away from river rocks or tumbled gravels with smooth edges. The stones in gravel need to lock together to hold themselves in place. Smooth edges prevent the gravel from interlocking and make it easy for the gravel to migrate.
For best results, install a layer of larger stones (about the size of a baseball) first. Then, purchase gravel consisting of stones from 3/4 of an inch wide to 1/4 inch wide. The gravel mixture you purchase should also have some finely crushed rocks that resemble sand. The different sizes of gravel will shift and lock together when you tamp down the gravel.
Add More Gravel
If you make your gravel thick enough, the weight of the stones will push the gravel down and help condense it. Essentially, the weight of the stones allows them to tamp themselves down on an ongoing basis so you don't have to keep doing it manually. Ideally, your top layer of gravel should be at least 4 inches thick.
In the short term, more gravel means more money. In the long run, it can save you money, however, since you won't need to keep buying replacement gravel. It will also save you a lot of aggravation.
Make a Crown
Heavy rain can create problems on a gravel driveway, often washing away areas of gravel. To prevent this, you need to create a small crown in the center of your driveway. Simply put, the center of the driveway should be slightly higher than the rest. Making this small mound with sloped edges helps slow down rainwater and prevent it from washing away the driveway.
Think gradual and subtle when raising the center of the driveway. You want enough of a height difference between the center and edges of the driveway that the water will run off, but you don't want everyone who drives by to wonder why your driveway looks like Mount Everest.
Create a Border
If you're looking for a more imaginative way to keep your gravel in your driveway, consider adding some type of border. You can use brick pavers or wood edging, for instance, to create a finished edge along the driveway. This can help keep gravel in place, but it's not foolproof.
When choosing a border, you need to keep it low enough that it doesn't create a tripping hazard. Alternatively, you can make it high enough that it's obvious and highly visible. The taller the border, the better it will contain the gravel.