some suggestions for a gravel driveway

coreymeyerJuly 5, 2005

My wife and I were in Long Island last fall and took a drive out to the Hamptons and noticed that almost everyone had a gravel driveway that looked very nice. We are wanting to do the same at our home but are not sure what the best procedure would be. We have a crushed rock driveway now, which we just put in last year. Now we want to add stone on top and have heard of an idea of putting down tar and then sharp gravel over the top. I assume this is to hold the gravel as much as possible. Does anyone have any experience with this or anything that they feel works well?

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We don't have a driveway, but I do have stone walks through our yard bounded on either side by brick. We chose stone for drainage and because it would not get mossy under trees. It has worked well and snow/leaves were not a removal problem as our naysayer friends predicted. The texture and color also look great going through the garden. Ours have a layer of crushed stone beneath the larger gravel. Each layer was compacted with a great vibrating machine. Plan on the purchase of a leaf blower if you don't already have one.

Maybe you could just move to the Hamptons?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 4:18AM
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In my precious life we did several long stretches of gravel driveway using "crusher run." It hardpacks into a good stable surface with most of the larger gravel staying on the road surface rather than flying off to the sides.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 8:03AM
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Yup, crusher run is best--but it's not "pretty".

If you live where it snows, "pretty" is an invitiation to stone all over your lawn and gardens when you plow. Only one of the reasons crusher run is best.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 12:20PM
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Sorry for the typo - I meant "previous" life.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 12:47PM
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I'm in Ohio and most people around here use what they call "47 gravel". It is gray and has sharp edges that make it stay in place. We bought some brown rocks that are called "river rocks" (I think). We are already have pot holes because the edges of the rock are rounded so they move all around when you drive on them. I'd go with 47's now.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 1:43PM
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Don't let anyone talk you into crushed limestone for the driveway if you have pets, children, visitors or ever walk on the driveway when it is wet. We have been battling limestone mud for years. Crusher run is the best way to go.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 6:05PM
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If you go to the search button, and put in "tar and chip driveway", you will find a thread I did on this just this past Spring. I am in LI ... the poorer section... and it is common for the shingle style home. I also believe it is illegal in some Southampton towns to pave diveways with asphalt. I have decided on the tar and chip and have been patiently waiting two months since they started, to continue with the remainder of the &$#@^* job. Anyhow, t&c is 2" asphalt applied over a base of crushed stone, concrete,etc.....about 5". Stones are then embedded into the asphalt, and some are also loose on top....about a 2" layer. If you go with this method, use 1/2" stone and DO NOT USE RED STONES. Smaller stones get stuck in shoes and ruin floors. Red stones bleed when wet.... tracking red dye into house. People in the Hamptons tend not to use their houses in the winter so their needs aren't like real peoples. The plus side is the asphalt keeps the weeds out vs just laying down gravel over a base. It does keep it in place to some extent, although, if you have any areas where the tires turn on the drive, such as the entry/exit, the stones will shift and need to be topped off every few years or so. The drive will need to be steel edged or cobblestone edged to keep everything in place. Now the not so good news.... if you need to plow, the blades MUST be raised so the stones aren't taken off. If you use a snow blower, you have to push and lift the front of the blower at the same time.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 6:45PM
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We have decided on using what is known locally as "trap" rock. It is sharp and tends to stay put fairly well. I am thinking about not putting tar down first, mostly because of the cost, but also because I plan on building a garage in the next year or so and do not want to have to dig up all this tar. I also do not want a bunch of tar on my wood floors. So anyway, I think I will just put down a layer of this 3/8" trap rock and was thinking about mixing some sand or lime with it and vibrating it in to form a more solid base to keep the gravel from moving so much when we turn around. Does anyone have any input on this before I go and do this? Is the sand a good or bad idea? Would lime or something like that be better?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 5:15PM
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NO LIME!! unless you want grey mud and pale grey dust tracked into your house for the next 10-15 years. I know from experience.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2005 at 7:40AM
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It sounds as if you're talking about 'macadam' We had our driveway done two years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful: King of Macadam

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 6:03AM
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I use to clean for family who has gravel truck company. Asked how often he put fresh gravel on his long drive.Was told about every 8-10 years. I was doing it about every 2. He said to put land scaping fabric down. Might cost some $$$ but in the long run . Was thinking about getting river rock to put along fence line. Has gone up alot $400 a dump truck load. Regular gravel $175

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 9:01PM
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This Old House did a project some years ago (a 1907 Victorian) in which they did a traditional Macadam driveway. Very interesting to see how it went down.

AH! Just found a reference to the project on the TOH website. It was in 1993 project in Belmont, Mass.

The owner says that it has performed very well.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 9:54PM
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I read an article a while back (I believe in Martha Stewart Living) about gravel drives. As only Martha knows how to do, she made it all sound (and look) so romantic and lovely! Pictured was a pea gravel drive (they mentioned it was important to have brick or wood edging to hold the gravel in) leading to a shingle style home on the coast. In reality (here in Wisconsin anyhow) if pea gravel were used half of it would end up on the lawn each spring from the plowing or snow blowing. What is used here sounds similar to previous posts and is called "traffic binder" gravel.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 10:31PM
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Here in NJ I have an old gravel drive that all I did was put down more 3/8" gravel. It's held in on the sides by field stones. I just use a garden rake back side down in the fall to make it as flat as I can (about 15 minutes work)and I set the snow blower to run about a 1/2" over the ground. That clears enough of the snow, and I avoid spitting the rocks into the lawn. The snow melts pretty quickly around here. No mud and no other big concern with weeds. Once in a while as I walk down the driveway I pick some out and throw them back in the drive where they wilt away. The garden cloth seems like a good idea but don't make this more complicated than it is.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 8:52PM
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This thread was started awhile back, but I wanted to share my experience. I had a "tar & chip" driveway installed about 4 years ago and absolutely love it. Like many things once common, now forgotten, you wonder why it's not done more. I designed & built a Bungalow-style one-car detached garage with office studio, for our modest 1940s home, and this charming driveway leading up to it is a perfect complement to the 8' tall cedar carriage's almost funny how often people have commented on the charm of the two, and no doubt was a big reason we recently sold the house within a couple of weeks from multiple over-asking-price offers. (Not trying to sound brag-y, just emphasize that curb appeal really does sell -- it's not all about square footage.) I miss the intimate crunchy sound of a car pulling up in the driveway.

Since we live in North Carolina where winters bring only occasional mild snows, I guess that aspect is important to consider if you live up North. We used "Alabama Brown" stone (names probably vary around the country), a mix of light-to-dark-brown river pebbles, but just large enough to avoid tracking them in the house. As softurn states above, it's an asphalt base, with a second tackier asphalt coat sprayed down then the stone immediately rolled into it while hot. There's just enough additional loose gravel to make it garden-like. I went to a lot of trouble beforehand installing & levelling (with a transit) steel edging; in retrospect I'm not sure it was necessary or was even counterproductive (i.e. finished surface height will follow edging, so you could create unecessary drainage problems). Cost was surprisingly reasonable: about $3.50/SF, similar to good-quality concrete job. Two caveats: if you have a spot where turning car tires repeatedly "scrub" the surface, like on a tight pull-off space, it'll wear the gravel away. Also, much as we loved the DW, my wife wished we had an easier surface for our toddler to ride her toys on. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 1:28AM
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We lived outside Akron, OH for a few years when I was a kid and everyone in our subdivision used Crushed Limestone for their driveways. The Crushed Limestone was very attractive and I remember my Mom saying it was very inexpensive. It was white to light grey small sharp edged rocks maybe 1/2 in size. It packed into almost a concrete like surface that was easy to shovel in the winter. We lived there a little over 3 years and my Dad had a few yards delivered the 3rd year to replenish the drive, but other then this no maintenance at all. I wish we had something like this now, but I've never seen Crushed Limestone again.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 8:30PM
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msafirstein: Read my post above. You were a kid. You didn't have to deal with the mess you made.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 6:20AM
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I live in NC -- do you have any sources for "tar & chip" driveways in central NC by any chance? Concrete has gone up so much and I'm reading that tar & chip is a little less expensive now. So I'm thinking of having our driveway resurfaced with that if I can find someone who does it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:01PM
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My parents had a macadam surface put down on their circular driveway at their house in northern Maryland in the 80s. They loved it.No problem clearing the snow. We currently have the last surviving gravel driveway in our neighborhood and will probably do macadam instead of refreshing the old gravel which is from the 20s.I don't want to put in asphalt or concrete. Sue

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 2:29PM
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Rather an enquiry than a suggestion. We live in France so don't have the same climate problems as above. Our drive way
60 metres long by 3 metres is a second entrance and is very rarely used by cars in fact it is a boulodrome - we play boules with children and grandchildren. My husband wants to have it asphalted first before putting down gravel or crepisette ? I don't see the necessity for a very expensive
asphalting in that case. Only ad. I see is suppressing weeds but that's a spenny way to do it. I'm a Scot too. Welcome any comments though it's a bit outside the terms of reference.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 5:26AM
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Would love to hear about anyone's maintenance of a gravel driveway. As a builder, I put down over compacted earth and between steel edging a beautiful tan "Chapel Hill" gravel. Quarried from Chapel Hill, NC., I installed 4 inches and then tamped. It is considered a natural "crush and run"(ABC). 6 months later Tropical Storm Alberto came through and dumped 7+ inches of rain. Guess what happened? They are blaming me.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 4:11AM
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I am north of Charlotte. I have "small" gravel (? 3/8 inch) over packed earth and my driveway has a pretty good slope in parts. Tropical Storm Faye gave me a little Grand Canyon right down through the packed soil. The dogs stir it up, it only packs were I drive on it consistently. It looks great when I have it all raked out (for 10 minutes then the dogs run over it) but I am researching this "macadam" driveway now. I think shifting with heavy rain is the nature of a loose gravel driveway.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 1:18PM
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Two winters ago, my neighbor used his companies snow plow truck and plowed my driveway quite a few times causing large ruts in my 200+ foot driveway that made it unusable for the entire spring and summer, even for the mailman.

I don't make alot of money so I can only afford one home project each year. I paid $700 plus materials for a guy to lay down levels of 23a crushed limestone to repair all the damage to my driveway. It was done slowly over a 2 month timeframe and each layer was driven back and forth on hundreds of times to set it before winter. It was a thing of beauty and set, looked and felt like a real concrete driveway. I was so happy and proud.

Christmas week I came down my driveway from working 3rd shift and saw the my neighbor had plowed it again. There was only an inch or two of snow and I just couldn't believe it. I was physically ill and still am over it. It is Spring now and my beautiful driveway is now a loose, crumbling, gravely roller coater ride. Much of the 3/4-1 inch limestone was strewn all over my yard. I came home the other day and noticed my neighbor had simply raked much of the loose, debree and leaf filled limestone back into the driveway so it is even more crumbly. I told him not to do that based on speaking with the guy that did the work last year and also the company where he purchase the limestone from, but he did it anyway.

Can anyone tell me what I can do? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 6:36PM
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That does sound heartbreaking. As a general rule, be assertive in looking out for your own interests when it comes to dealing with your neighbor or anyone else. Also, explain the reason WHY you do or don't want contractors, neighbors, and others to do things or not do things a certain way. It's possible your neighbor thought you felt guilty about him plowing because you weren't paying him and had no idea you were proud of your driveway and that the plowing would cause significant damage.

Of course it's also possible that he's just one of those people who "doesn't get it" because his brain is wired a different way and he doesn't have a sense about when he is causing damage, and will do things even when told not to.

Get an estimate for the repair of your driveway and ask your neighbor to pay for it. Don't accept any offers for him to fix it himself. (Basically he can't be trusted to do it properly, no matter how much of a nice guy he may be.) If he will not pay, ask the company whose truck he drove to pay for it. The company may not have to pay out of pocket if they have insurance for damage caused by plowing. If they will not, gather your evidence (it will be helpful if you took before and after photos) and take both your neighbor and the company that owns the truck to small claims court.

For use in dealing with the police or court system in the future, write him letter and send it certified mail informing him you do not want him to plow your driveway and if he does, you will consider it trespassing and report it to the police. Mail a copy to the company that owns the truck as well. Keep the a record of sending the letter, including the delivery confirmation receipts for your records.

If he STILL doesn't take the hint, you might consider putting a locked gate at the end of your driveway, or parking a car across the end of the driveway when it snows.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 9:18AM
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Thank you so much Chris for taking the time to reply and especially with such a detailed response. You clearly are a very kind person.

This neighbor is the opposite from nice. He is scary and dangerous. He set up a target for practice of a high powered bow & arrow with the target 20 ft away of my fenceline where my dog & I walk. He set huge fireworks (illegal) off directly above my roof this past 4th. I have thick cylinders w/metal on my roof and all around all sides of my house in the yard. I got burned while exiting my home to see where they were hitting. The Fire Chief said he would have to be caught in the act.

I guess I will try to see if I can get an estimate on repairing it although it was such an inexpensive job by "contractor" standards so not sure if anyone will really come out.

I was also thinking about sending that estimate to him certified giving him a chance to do the right thing, then if he doesn't respond by a date/time I specify in the letter, escalate it to his company. I'm not sure if I should tell him I'm going to escalate it or to whom...your thoughts?

Anyway, I do not have a before/after, and not sure if that would even help because you can't get the level of detail in a photograph. You really need to drive down it to feel the looseness of it, and it was in its initial phases (only 2 1/2 mths old) of setting into concrete before he broke it up.

As far as gate etc., I was making very little since my IT job was outsourced to India doing menial work on 3rd shift for a medical staffling co, and now they let me go so a gate at end of my driveway etc., is only a pipedream to me now.

We can't choose our family or neighbors...wouldn't it be a great world if we could.

Thanks again for taking the time and god bless....

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 2:45PM
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