Adding Gravel or Stone to a Dirt Driveway
A hard-packed dirt driveway works fine until it rains. Then you have a muddy mess. Adding stone or gravel to a dirt driveway is a simple solution to the problem. You already have the dirt pathway established, so you simply build onto it. A stone driveway lasts for many years with little maintenance other than occasional grading and smoothing. If you don't have a garden tractor with a front-end loader and a scraper blade, rent a small skid-steer loader with a loader and blade attachment to help you build the gravel driveway.
- Follow the path of the dirt driveway as you use the front-end loader attachment to dig it out approximately 12 inches deep. Put the topsoil in a pile somewhere on your property so you can use it on gardening projects.
- Smooth the subsoil with the scraper blade. Drive over the surface with the tractor several times to pack the dirt.
- Cover the driveway area with geo-textile fabric. Scatter a few stones across the fabric to hold it in place or push fabric pins into the ground to hold it down. The fabric prevents weeds from growing through the gravel driveway.
- Order stone by the ton. Determine how many cubic yards you need for each 4-inch layer you will install. Measure the length and width of the driveway in feet. Convert the number of inches you need to feet. For example, 4 inches would be 0.33 feet. Multiply the length times the width times the thickness. Divide that number by 27 to get the cubic yards (see Resources). Divide that number by 1.4 to figure the tons. It's a good idea to order extra stone.
- Spread a 4-inch deep layer of crushed No. 3 stone along the entire driveway. This base layer of rock is the size of your fist. Smooth the gravel in place with the scraper blade. As you press the rocks down, the jagged edges lock together to form a solid surface.
- Lay a second 4-inch layer of rock on top of the first. Order crushed No. 57 size for this layer. It's the size of ping-pong balls. Smooth it with the scraper and drive over it.
- Spread the final 4-inch layer of stone. Use crushed No. 21-A, which is also called crusher stone. Sometimes it comes with dust. As the dust settles in the crevices between the rocks, it causes the rocks to bind together tightly.
- Grade the final layer of rock so there is a slight crown or high spot down its length for drainage. If the driveway slopes to one side, put the crown on the high side. Drive slowly over the driveway numerous times with a heavy vehicle to pack the stones firmly into position.
When you order stone from a quarry, have the measurements handy. The employee can do the calculations for you.
Ask for a delivery truck that can spread the stone to the desired thickness as it dumps it. You only need to level the rock and spread it wherever the truck couldn't reach. With three different kinds of rock, you'll have three different loads of stone.
Add landscape edging along the edge of the driveway to help keep the rocks off the lawn. Put rocks back on the driveway with a shovel, as necessary.
Pay close attention when the equipment rental associate shows you how to operate the skid-steer loader and its attachments. Follow all warning signs posted on the vehicle.
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