How can I install a gravel drive myself?

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How can I install a gravel drive myself?
Installing a long-lasting gravel drive takes more attention to detail than simply dumping gravel onto the site. (old barn image by marca coffey from

Installing a gravel drive requires more preparation and attention to detail than simply having a truck driver spread the load of gravel across your intended drive space. While this method works well for periodic maintenance of your drive, using this method for the initial installation often results in numerous problems and more frequent maintenance re-gravelling. Proper preparation for your gravel drive prevents low and wet spots from occurring.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Spade or bulldozer
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Mechanical roller
  • Tape measure
  • Vegetation killer
  • Landscape fabric
  • Coarse gravel
  • Fine gravel

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  1. 1

    Excavate the site for your gravel drive. For small drives you may conduct this process using a spade and wheelbarrow, though for larger drives you would benefit from hiring a professional or renting a bulldozer to excavate the site, as you need to dig down at least 20 cm (8 inches).

  2. 2

    Tamp down the soil in the area. Use a large mechanical roller to cover more area than a hand-held soil tamper. Roll the tamping machine over the area continually for a half an hour to thoroughly compact the soil.

  3. 3

    Measure the width and length of the drive site with a tape measure to determine the square footage of the site. Use this square footage measurement to order the appropriate amount of gravel and to apply the landscaping fabric along the bottom of the excavated site.

  4. 4

    Mix a batch of vegetation killing spray and apply to the excavated site. This helps prevent grass and weeds from growing up and through the drive. Unroll and apply landscaping fabric onto the bottom of the excavated site as additional protection against growing vegetation.

  5. 5

    Cover the landscaping fabric immediately with a 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inch) layer of coarse gravel to prevent the fabric from blowing away or lifting off the excavated site. To order the gravel, tell the company you order from the square footage of the site and the depth you want for this first layer of gravel.

  6. 6

    Have the gravel delivery company dump the gravel over the site or in one central location. Use a spade or dozing blade on your tractor or bulldozer to spread the gravel on your own, if necessary. Roll the tamping machine over the first layer of coarse gravel to compact this layer.

  7. 7

    Order another load of gravel in a finer granulation to apply in a 10 cm (4 inch) layer over the first gravel layer. After you apply this layer, tamp the gravel down with the mechanical roller and continue to apply four-inch layers of gravel in smaller sizes until you reach the desired gravel depth for your drive.

  8. 8

    Build up the final gravel layer instead of compacting it. To promote drainage and slow down the natural spreading process, build up the middle of the drive 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) taller than the edges of the drive.

Tips and warnings

  • To prevent the drive gravel from spreading and widening the drive space, install landscaping edging along the edges of the drive immediately after completing the drive.

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