Stone driveways are a popular, low cost choice for many homeowners. While gravel can be cheap and easy to install, it’s also important to understand the differences between it and other driveway types. In this article, we’ll look at using stone for driveways, and the key ideas you need to keep in mind when doing so.
When working with stone and gravel, there are a couple of things to keep in mind that should guide your decision.
In general, there are two types of gravel and stone available for driveways. These are crushed stone and naturally formed gravel.
Crushed stone is made by crushing larger rocks into smaller ones. This typically leads to stones that are a bit rougher around the edges, and also usually leads to stones that are white or gray in color.
Naturally forming rocks are exactly as they sound, rocks that are formed naturally through erosion. This leads to more rounded and softer rocks, and they usually have a larger range of colors.
Each of these types have their place, and we’ll look more at the differences down below.
Gravel and stone are naturally extremely durable and require little maintenance. What you do need to be concerned about is drift, or stones moving under use. This can lead to rocks moving out of your driveway and into the surrounding property.
Crushed stones, due to their irregular shape, tend to drift less as the rocks will naturally interlock with each other. On the other hand, natural stone tends to be smoother and more prone to moving. This means you’ll typically need to add some sort of barrier to prevent too much from migrating off your driveway.
Gravel and stones naturally have very good drainage. That said, the larger the stones you use the better drainage they will provide due to naturally gaps between stones.
Stones that are larger than about 1” generally give very high drainage with smaller stones being more compact and providing less drainage. Keep this in mind if you’re in an area with slow draining soil or have existing issues with drainage.
Shape and Color
Shape and color are another key consideration, and as mentioned before, natural rocks tend to have more options here. While there are some more attractive crushed options, then tend to be more expensive which can ruin a key benefit of using gravel on your driveway in the first place.
Tips For Working With Gravel
As you begin to lay your driveway, here are a couple of tips to help the process go as smooth as possible.
Add a Weed Barrier
One of the big issues you’ll face with a stone driveway is pesky weeds growing up through it. These can be difficult to manage once they take hold, so it’s best to deal with them beforehand.
The easiest way to do this is to lay a weed barrier down to help stop weeds from shooting up. This is usually a tarp like material that can be laid on your work area, and is usually thick enough to stop weed growth.
While you still may get some weeds, even with a tarp, it’s going to be significantly more manageable if you start with this tip and lay your stone on top of it.
Add Edge Barriers
Adding barriers on the edges of your driveway is another great move that can prevent stones from moving off of your driveway. They can also add some aesthetic appeal, or make a great place for things like lighting.
Without this, you’ll need to be on top of raking stray stones back onto your driveway. This is especially important for natural stones that are more likely to move, but is also helpful for crushed stone.
Go In Layers
In most cases, stone driveways are installed in layers. You generally want at least 3 layers of stone, with the base layer being about 6” in depth. This helps ensure stability and helps strengthen the driveway. Keep this in mind when planning out how much stone you’ll need to purchase.
Pros of Stone Driveway
– Affordable: Stone driveways are typically cheaper than concrete or brick. This makes them attractive for those on a budget, or those with very long driveways that would be expensive to do with other materials.
– No Wait: Once laid, you can begin using your stone driveway immediately. This is in contrast to something like concrete that needs time to set before use.
– Good Drainage: Since the stones aren’t pushed tightly together they provide better drainage than most other materials.
– Easy To Maintain: In most cases, some light raking is all that’s needed to maintain a gravel or stone driveway. This can also be reduced by adding proper barriers along the edges.
Cons Of Stone Driveway
– Less Aesthetic: Many people dislike the look of stone and gravel driveways, and also dislike the lack of options you have for design. This is more of a personal preference, but is still something you should keep in mind.
– Harder To Snowplow: If you live in a climate with lots of snow, having a gravel driveway may make it harder to clear it. Plows or shovels can accidentally pick up bits of the gravel, and then this can then make it onto other parts of your property.
– Weeds: As noted above, without preparation gravel driveways can become infested with weeds. These can then be difficult to manage, and look unsightly.
– Can Develop Divots: Overtime, gravel can shift leading to holes and divots in your driveway. It’s fairly easy to fill these in with more gravel, but is an extra step that you typically wouldn’t need to worry about when using other materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Cement Over a Gravel Driveway?
While traditional cement driveways do use a base layer of gravel, it’s typically larger than those used for a gravel driveway. For that reason it’s not advised to cement over an existing gravel driveway.
How Do You Prevent a Gravel Driveway From Sinking?
The best method to prevent sinking is to start with a solid foundation built from multiple layers. The base layer is typically laid with larger stones that are less likely to sink.
What Maintenance Does a Stone Driveway Need?
You’ll need to periodically take it to both keep it level and to capture stones that have moved outside the bounds of the driveway. This can be lessened by installing a barrier on the edges of the driveway.