The Proper Way to Make a Gravel Driveway

Written by meg warren
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The Proper Way to Make a Gravel Driveway
Installing a gravel driveway requires precision. (gravel pattern image by jimcox40 from

Building your own driveway out of gravel is cheaper than you may think. Although you may think that you can simply throw some gravel on the ground for a job well done, that isn't exactly how it works. If you want to prevent ruts and dips in the gravel that holds water, certain procedures are necessary.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Shovel
  • Tamping machine
  • 3 sizes of rock
  • Level

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  1. 1

    Measure the length and width of the driveway area, using a tape measure. A typical driveway is around 10 feet wide and 20 feet long unless you have retaining walls or house walls on either side of the driveway. In those cases, you'll want a 14-foot-wide driveway. This will allow for getting in and out of the vehicle comfortably without hitting the walls with the car doors.

  2. 2

    Multiply the length times the width times a 10-inch depth to get the cubic feet of the driveway. Divide this by 27 to determine the cubic yards. One cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet. Multiply the cubic yards by 1.5. The answer you get is the gravel tonnage you'll need.

  3. 3

    Mark the driveway area with spray paint.

  4. 4

    Dig the area down 12 inches below the top layer of soil, using a shovel. Slope the driveway so that the water doesn't pool after a rain. Dig the sides of the driveway 2 inches deeper with a downhill slope. Leave the centre of the driveway at 12 inches deep.

  5. 5

    Tamp the soil with a tamping machine; this will pack down the soil so that when the driveway is complete you don't end up with big ruts in the gravel because of the weight of the car.

  6. 6

    Apply the first 4 inches of gravel and level with a rake. This does not have to be perfect, but use a level if you wish. Compact the rock into the soil after you have levelled the rock. Go back over again if needed with the rake.

  7. 7

    Apply the second 4 inches of rock. This rock should be smaller than the first layer of rock. Use a rake to level. Use the tamping machine again to compact the second layer down into the first. Level with a rake again if needed.

  8. 8

    Apply the final layer of rock. This is the rock you'll see when you look at the driveway. Compact everything down into each other with the tamping machine to ensure that you have a tight fit. Doing this after each step will ensure a strong driveway.

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