Planning Your New Gravel Driveway

planning for a new gravel driveway

A gravel driveway is an excellent choice for those looking for a low maintenance option with a casual or “beachy” aesthetic.   Since your driveway is both the first and the last thing your visitors will see, curb appeal and functionality are important factors.  One of the best things about installing this type of driveway is that you can easily design, plan and install it yourself without having to hire a professional.  Cost savings is one of the primary reasons many choose to go this route, but low maintenance is the reason many continue to favor gravel over concrete, pavers and asphalt options for driveway installation.

As with all construction projects, some level of planning and preparation is called for before installation begins, and starting as early as possible is always preferable.  The design and planning elements will take a little time so starting well before you are ready for installation will keep you on the right track so you can have your new driveway ready for use early in the Spring.

First, you should decide exactly where you want your new driveway to be and should also consider factors such as whether you are going to expand the size of your current driveway space, whether you want to create a straight, curved or circular design, and if you want to incorporate room for additional parking.

Next, you will want to do some research on the type of gravel you want to use for your pea gravel driveway installation.  Local suppliers of building, construction and landscaping materials such as Atak Trucking can assist you in choosing the right materials based on cost, color, size and shape of the stones and they even provide an easy to use gravel calculator to help estimate how many cubic yards you will need based on your coverage area and depth of coverage.  Before ordering your materials, keep in mind that many experts recommend laying three separate layers of different sized stones for a truly stable and well-drained driveway. If you decide to add a border to your design, it will be helpful to plan for this element from the start as well.

Before placing your materials order, decide if you will also be incorporating gravel into the rest of your landscaping design to blend the various elements together.  Pea gravel and river gravel are good alternatives to mulch for use in flowerbeds and gardens. They work to block out the sun in to prevent moisture evaporation and are also known for their ability to foster drainage where needed.  Unlike organic mulch, they don’t decompose or decay so the materials won’t need to be replaced annually and can easily be reused.

Once your planning is complete and the weather breaks, it is time to place your materials order and mark the new driveway area with landscape stakes. Before “breaking ground”, make sure that you have all of the tools that you will need to complete the project.  You may have some of the necessities right in your garage and be able to borrow the rest from a friend or neighbor, but if you don’t have access to all of the needed tools, especially the larger and more costly mechanics, you may want to consider renting equipment from a local rental center instead of buying.

When you’re ready to begin installation, start by digging out any grass and soil from the marked-off driveway area. The amount of soil you need to remove will depend on how many layers of material you plan to lay. Level the surface of the driveway and compact the dirt. For best results, you will want to lay down a weed barrier to prevent grass and weeds from growing through your finished project.  If you have incorporated a border into your design, once the ground has been compacted you can set your border materials.

You should now be ready to spread the rocks. Use a wheelbarrow to evenly distribute the stones and then use a shovel or metal rake to evenly spread them throughout the width of the driveway. You will want to tamp down the gravel with a mechanical compactor or repeatedly drive over each layer of stones with a heavy truck. To promote proper water drainage, the driveway should be slightly elevated in the middle and lower on the sides. A perfect grade is very slight, with the middle at about 2% to 5% higher than the rest of the area, so you may need to add additional material to the center of the driveway.

Your new gravel driveway is now ready to enjoy.  It will last for years with little maintenance or upkeep and is sure to provide a casual feel to your contemporary home.

For more information about the varieties of gravel available through ATAK Trucking in NJ and Staten Island for bulk delivery, call 917-912-2900.

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