How to Make a Gravel Driveway on a Hill

Installing a gravel driveway on a hill is an affordable, practical alternative to pavement. The permeable surface allows rainwater to drain through and adds subtle textural contrast to a yard. Do-it-yourselfers can excavate and grade the site manually, but renting proper equipment will help you achieve a consistent, safe slope. Plan a day or two for the installation to ensure the foundation and surface are thoroughly compacted.

...
A gravel driveway on a hill adds beauty and texture to a front yard.

Step 1

Outline the sides of the site from the garage to the street by laying two long ropes on the ground. Measure the distance in between with a tape measure and adjust them so the width is about 12 feet for one car and 14 feet where the path curves.

Step 2

Dig out grass and topsoil from between the two ropes with an excavator or shovel. Deposit the soil on a tarp and cover it so you can use it for gardening projects and lower areas of the yard. The site should have a uniform depth of at least 12 inches.

Step 3

Grade the pitch of the driveway so it's safe for driving. Secure a box scraper to the back of a riding mower. Lower the teeth so they cut 1 inch into the subsoil and set the angle of the blade. Refer to the equipment's instructions to pull out the lock pin and rotate the angle of the blade.

Step 4

Ride the mower down the site on the slowest setting so the teeth can skim the dirt from high areas and spread it over low spots so the slope is consistent. Repeat this until the box scraper has covered the width of the site.

Step 5

Run a compactor machine over the loose sub-base.

Step 6

Fill 4 inches of the site with 1 1/4-inch gravel and rake it into the sides and corners. Compact the first layer of rocks until they wedge into an almost solid surface.

Step 7

Cover the large gravel with two 4-inch layers of 3/4-inch gravel. Compact the first layer before adding the second. Ride the box scraper over the top layer of gravel and compact it.

Step 8

Shape the surface of the driveway so water will flow from the surface to the sides. Add a 2-inch layer of 3/8-inch gravel and stone dust down the center. Rake it to form a smooth crown with the center 1/2 inch higher than the ends.


Aurora LaJambre

Aurora LaJambre is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. For over five years she's covered topics in culture, lifestyle, travel, DIY design and green living for print and online media. Her publication credits include "WOW Women on Writing," "Six States" and Catalogs.com. She graduated from New York University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing.