Let’s face it: building a new driveway can be expensive and time-consuming. After the gravel driveway installation processhas been completed, you want to feel confident that your investment is going to pay off and that you won’t need to re-do the work for a long time. If this sounds familiar, it’s high time that you looked into constructing a gravel driveway.
While choosing materials like concrete and asphalt are popular for being tough, durable and long-lasting, you may be surprised to learn that a gravel driveway can actually last up to 100 years – if it’s constructed and maintained properly. Pretty amazing, right? We believe that gravel is such an affordable and reliable option for residential driveways, so we’re taking the time to highlight the reasons why gravel driveways can survive so long and how you can ensure that your completed driveway survives for a century.
The Anatomy of a Gravel Driveway
In order to understand why a gravel driveway is capable of lasting for decades, you’ve got to have a better understanding of how these types of driveways are constructed and the materials used to make them. In terms of actual materials, a gravel driveway is built from large crushed stone, slightly smaller crushed stone, and very small gravel. All three of these stone materials are essential to the strength, integrity, and longevity of the driveway.
The larger stones sit at the base of the driveway and create a solid foundation. This is what makes it safe for you to drive heavy vehicles back and forth across the driveway. Next, a layer of slightly smaller crushed stone is added. This layer reinforces the base stones and helps to keep them in place. The gravel that you actually see on the surface is not added until the very end and it is small enough to safely and comfortably drive or walk upon.
A gravel driveway requires more than just crushed stone aggregate materials, though. Before the stones can be poured into the driveway, the area needs to be compacted and cleared of debris, including large rocks, root systems, etc. Taking the time to do this is an essential part of ensuring that the gravel driveway is able to last for years.
Compacting the base material along the bottom and edges of the excavated driveway trench will help to prevent shifting, sinking and settling throughout the years that could compromise the integrity of the drive. Removing root systems will prevent growth or movement that could cause a shift or other problem with the driveway in the future.
It’s also advisable to apply a layer of landscaping fabric to the excavated trench prior to introducing crushed stone to the driveway. The driveway is built with loose materials on top of the base material, so plants could begin to grow up from under the gravel and compromise the surface of the driveway over time. Landscaping fabric serves as a barrier that prevents problems like these from arising so that a gravel driveway can last for a long time.
Another aspect to consider with gravel driveways is drainage. Moisture is a common foe for driveway surfacing materials like asphalt and concrete, sometimes causing cracks and potholes over time. The loose fill materials used in a gravel driveway can allow water to naturally percolate back into the groundwater supply, preventing any possible issues.
It’s important to keep an eye on your driveway’s drainage capabilities, though. If it seems like water is pooling on top of the gravel instead of draining into the ground beneath, you may need to install some sort of drainage system to provide relief. This will go a long way in preserving the integrity of the driveway, allowing it to live out its full projected lifespan.
Gravel Driveway Maintenance
There are many natural properties that allow gravel driveways to thrive for approximately a century, but taking the time to properly care for and maintain your driveway will also help to extend the life of your gravel surface.
One of the easiest ways to help your driveway look and function perfectly throughout the years is to set up a schedule for regularly raking your gravel. When sticks, leaves, grass and other debris are able to build up, it compromises the quality and consistency of your gravel drive’s surface, diminishing structural integrity and creating more challenging driving conditions.
While raking the surface to remove any unwanted debris, you’re also helping to maintain an even distribution of gravel and you can also work to improve drainage functions. Raking the gravel to a slight peak down the center line of the driveway will make it easier for water to run off either side instead of flooding or pooling.
Although gravel is long-lasting, it can become displaced over time. After a good amount of foot and vehicular traffic, gravel can shift, resulting in low spots and an uneven surface. To prevent major potholes from developing, it’s wise to keep a fresh supply of gravel on hand so that you can immediately fill in low spots and apply a new, 1″ layer of gravel to the surface each year.
Winter weather needn’t cause any harm to your gravel driveway or take away from its expected lifespan – so long as you know how to take care of it. Shoveling snow from the driveway carelessly or using a powerful snow blower willy-nilly could cause you to displace and lose a lot of gravel and cause damage to the layers beneath throughout the winter months.
Using rock salt and other ice melting materials can help to reduce the buildup of snow and ice on top of your driveway so that you don’t have to do remove as much. From here, it’s important to shovel with care or adjust your snow blower blade settings to half an inch above the surface of your gravel in order to prevent problems from arising.
Building a Long-Lasting Gravel Driveway in NJ
Homeowners throughout NJ know that they can trust Braen Stone with all of their gravel driveway construction needs. After more than 110 years in the industry, we know the ins and outs of constructing and caring for a high-quality gravel driveway and are more than happy to help you choose the right materials and make decisions about the installation process.
All of our crushed stone and gravel materials are of the highest quality and can last in the century ahead. We offer the lowest and most competitive wholesale prices in the region so that you can stick with a budget you can afford. All of our gravel and crushed stone is available for pickup or bulk delivery to project sites throughout parts of NJ, NY, NYC and PA.