How to build a stone or gravel driveway

Updated February 21, 2017

Loose stone or gravel is a functional material to build a driveway. Building gravel driveways requires thorough planning and knowledge of the materials used. An improperly-laid gravel driveway will promote problems, such as ruts and excessive shifting of the gravel stones, within a short time-frame. A gravel or stone driveway that has been properly laid down will last for years.

Predetermine the exact location where the driveway will run. Measure the width and length of the location. Take the totals for width and length, and multiply them. This number is the total surface of the driveway.

Calculate your gravel depth. A lasting driveway has a depth of 30 cm (12 inches or 1 foot). Calculate the volume of gravel stones needed by multiplying your total surface by this depth. Multiply the cubic metres of this calculation's total by 1.5 to determine how many tons of gravel to purchase.

Clear away any rocks, tree roots, debris and large sticks from the driveway location. Use a shovel--along with several helpers with shovels--to remove the top soil layer of the driveway ground. Keep digging down for any soft spots in the driveway top soil. You need to eliminate these soft spots to prevent future problems, such as ruts in the gravel.

Stamp down the sub soil with a vibrating plate. Gravel driveways perform better on top of firm subsoil layers. Vibrating plates are available to rent at hardware and equipment rental stores.

Place geotextile fabric on top of the entire driveway surface. Use large rocks to hold the fabric down to the sub soil if it's a windy day.

Spread 10 cm (4 inches) of crushed run gravel on top of the geotextile fabric. Spread this first layer over the entire surface of the driveway, forming a crown in the middle to aid in water drainage, with a rake or shovel. Each additional layer of crushed gravel will be smaller than the last layer in size.

Pour 10 cm (4 inches) of #57 crushed angular gravel on top of the first layer of stones. Spread this layer using a shovel or rake, forming a crown in the middle.

Spread 10 cm (4 inches) of #78 crushed angular gravel on top of the last layer. Form a crown in the middle of the driveway using a shovel or rake.


The standard gravel depth is between 5 and 10 cm (2 and 4 inches). This depth will suffice, but the gravel driveway will be much more susceptible to problems. Building a driveway with a depth of 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) will result in low maintenance for years. To form a crown in the middle of the driveway means the middle is higher, sloping downward toward the two outer edges. Online calculators can aid in determining the correct number of tons of gravel needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Shovel
  • Vibrating plate
  • Geotextile fabric
  • Rake
  • Crushed run gravel
  • #57 crushed gravel
  • #78 crushed gravel
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About the Author

Rachel Turner has been writing professionally since 2000, focusing on gardening and home improvement topics. Her articles have appeared online at SlowTravel and in publications such as the "Arkansas Gardeners," "One Step Ahead" and "Writers Now." Turner holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Arkansas State University.