How to build a gravel drive step by step

Updated February 21, 2017

When you don't need the stability or permanence of a concrete or asphalt drive, building a gravel drive may save you a lot of time and money. Gravel drives tend to require a little more maintenance over time, but if you build it correctly, you'll keep recurring issues to a minimum. Install the drive with some tools you probably already have in your shed. However, the job will be much easier and get done a lot faster if you rent large equipment for the job.

Measure out the length and width for the drive. Place stakes every 60 cm (2 feet) along the perimeter and run string from stake to stake. This will give you a visual on exactly where to install the drive.

Multiply the length of the drive by the width. This number will tell you how many square metres of geotextile fabric to buy. Now multiply the square metres by 0.2 to find out how much cubic metres of scalping stone you need, then multiple the square metres by 0.1 to figure out how much small gravel you will need.

Dig out the path of the drive to a depth of 30 cm (1 foot). If you encounter any soft spots, dig these out as well, until you reach hard earth.

Walk back and fourth across the drive and remove any organic material such as roots, sticks or leaves.

Tamp down the soil over the entire area that you just dug out.

Lay out the geotextile fabric, also called landscaping fabric, along the bottom of the drive. You don't need to secure it down, but only install it when you are ready to add the gravel, since it can blow away if left uncovered in the wind.

Place the scalping stone into the drive. Even out this layer with your shovel so that it is 20 cm (8 inches) deep throughout the drive.

Tamp down the scalping stone layer.

Place the gravel onto the drive. Spread it out and level it using your shovel, then tamp it down. Lay a beam across the drive, and use the level on it to check the evenness up and down the drive. Then move a small amount of gravel from the edges to the centre, to give the drive a slope to either side.


Always buy a little more material than you calculate that you'll need, in case your calculations turn out to be short. If your gravel drive is surrounded by grass, install stone edges along the sides. This will keep the gravel in the drive, instead of falling into your grass and potentially damaging your lawnmower.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • String
  • Stakes
  • Scalping stone
  • Geotextile fabric, or landscaping fabric
  • Gravel
  • Tamper
  • Straight-edged beam
  • Level
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About the Author

Shawn McClain has spent over 15 years as a journalist covering technology, business, culture and the arts. He has published numerous articles in both national and local publications, and online at various websites. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in journalism at Clarion University.