How to Level a Gravel Driveway: Everything You Need to Know

Gravel is the perfect solution for any homeowner that is looking for a beautiful, unique and affordable means of constructing a driveway. Many homeowners miss out on the opportunity to work with this versatile material, though, because they mistakenly believe that gravel driveways require too much maintenance.

In reality, taking the proper steps necessary to level a gravel driveway – both at the time of construction and throughout the driveway’s lifetime – will make caring for a gravel driveway very easy and will give you the highest return on your initial investment. To help you out, our experts have offered up some gravel driveway suggestions on how to level driveway.

Leveling a Gravel Driveway During Construction

When building a new gravel driveway, it’s imperative that you take the time to ensure that your driveway is leveled properly. Leveling a driveway during this phase of development involves several steps and processes:

Excavation – Before you can begin introducing crushed stone and gravel to your driveway, you need to properly excavate the area. In order to be successful, you need to dig to the depths recommended by experts and completely clear the space of any obstructions or debris that could create problems for you in the future.

This means that you will need to dig out and physically remove any large boulders or stones, root systems, sticks or other fragments that may present themselves. Leaving items like these at the base of your gravel driveway will prevent the drive from being leveled properly and can create further issues with shifting and settling in the years ahead.

Landscaping Fabric – No matter how well you clear away debris from the base of your new gravel driveway, you will still encounter problems if you don’t take measures to prevent weeds and other vegetation from growing underneath the stone and gravel.

The simplest and most effective solution to this potential dilemma is to lay down a layer of landscaping fabric between the earth and the crushed stone base layer.

Grading – You don’t want your gravel driveway’s base to be completely flat, as this can eventually lead to problems with pooling water and flooding. When constructing your gravel driveway, you need to grade it so that the driveway slopes slightly away from your home and/or garage. This will prevent water from accumulating near your home and causing damages.

Compaction – After each layer of gravel has been poured into the driveway, you’ll need to use a tamping tool, a roller or some other type of tool to compact the stone thoroughly. This step is essential because it ensures that the layers will remain in place as you intended and will minimize the effect of settling and shifting over time, meaning less driveway maintenance work for you over time.

Raking – After everything else has been completed, you should go over the surface of your driveway and rake the gravel to a slight peak down the center line. This final phase of leveling will help to ensure that the surface has equal gravel coverage while also creating a path for water to follow in the event of rain.

In this way, water will flow away from your driveway instead of accumulating there, thus reducing the chance of stone displacement and leveling issues.

Leveling a Gravel Driveway Throughout the Years

As the owner of a gravel driveway, you’ll likely notice that, throughout years of regular usage, your gravel surface may become somewhat bumpy or uneven. This can happen for a number of reasons.

First, small bits of gravel can be scattered and displaced when vehicles drive across the surface. Secondly, the weight of vehicles and the force of gravity may cause some gravel to sink or settle, resulting in recessed areas of the driveway.

Crushed stone may also be displaced due to equipment used for wintertime maintenance. Finally, some gravel can be washed away and moved after periods of heavy rain or exposure to large volumes of water.

Although all of these causes are relatively unavoidable, they don’t have to create major headaches in your life. The process of leveling an uneven gravel driveway is simpler than you might imagine and can quickly restore your driveway to its former glory, both in terms of appearance and functionality.

The end result is a significant extension to your driveway’s lifespan without breaking the bank.

Initially, you may be tempted to simply rake gravel from one area of your driveway into another in order to fill in low spots. This will only create bigger troubles for you in the end, though, as it will simply create more weak spots throughout the driveway as a whole.

A better course of action is to “chop up” and intermix all of the driveway’s existing stones by making use of a box blade and tractor or a 3-point angle blade, re-compact or tamp it down and then apply a fresh 3” layer of gravel to the top of the driveway.

This process helps to bring all of the driveway’s gravel down to the level of the lowest recessions, ensuring that all low spots and voids are properly filled in. The fresh layer of gravel adds structural integrity to the surface of the drive.

If you’re not someone who likes to wait until the first signs of a problem to take action, you don’t necessarily have to bide your time until settling and shifting occurs. The process of leveling your gravel driveway with a box blade or other tool can be completed on an annual or bi-annual basis as a means of preventing issues from arising before they have the opportunity to do so.

Regardless of how frequently you choose to re-level and compact your gravel drive, it’s important to regularly rake over the surface of the gravel in order to remove debris and obstructions and to maintain a slight peak that runs down the center of the drive.

Constructing and Leveling a Gravel Driveway in NJ

When you’re ready to start constructing and/or leveling your gravel driveway, Braen Supply is here to help you through the process. As the leading landscaping supplier in NJ, we’re proud to offer a wide range of stone, masonry and landscaping supplies that will transform the look and vibe of your outdoor living space.

We are knowledgeable about the gravel we sell and can provide you with insider tips on how best to level out and compact your driveway with ease. We’re happy to answer any gravel driveway questions you may have about the process and can even point you in the right direction of a professional contractor who can handle the work on your behalf.

Feel free to visit us at one of our convenient NJ locations to talk about your upcoming project or give us a call to learn more about having gravel bulk delivered to your location today. Our crushed stone can be picked up at our location or bulk delivered throughout parts of NJ & NY and limited parts of PA & CT.

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