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Gravel driveway with simple (French style) drainage?

Gravel driveway with simple (French style) drainage?

Old 12-11-13, 07:36 AM
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Gravel driveway with simple (French style) drainage?

We are nearing the end of a house build that has gone far over budget. Initial estimate for a permeable driveway (sloped, 100 foot length, 12 feet wide, small turn area at bottom) was $46,000. So that proposal is dead on arrival!

I have been trying to find out if anyone has ever excavated and then built a gravel driveway up and over a French drain concept - ie : in a profiled bottom, lay gravel bed, perforated drain pipe (perhaps 3 runs side by side?), then geo cloth, rocks, and then say 3/4" gravel as the top layer.

We have an advantage in that the bottom end of the driveway joins forest downslope - so we have a natural exit point for the drain pipe(s) to see daylight.

Apart from the fact I have not seen anyone else try this, what concerns me is stability - the issue of vehicles making their way up and down the grade. (the grade will be moderate after we have finished smoothing it out with equipment). With this in mind, I wonder if this is even feasible? Perhaps a hybrid approach would work - where we incorporate some of the containment materials you see in the high-end permeable driveways - eg : the typical polygrid set below grade that has numerous small pockets to hold gravel in place.

I am keen to take the DIY approach to this, and have some talented help available, but we've got to know what we're getting into first. This is all too easily messed up.

Old 12-11-13, 08:46 AM
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I do not like clean gravel or stone for driveways. It drains well and lets water pass through but does not compact and solidify. Instead the individual rocks remain somewhat loose like marbles so cars make ruts driving through. Driving uphill as the vehicles driving tires slip ever so slightly it can form a wash board. Much will depend on the gravel available in your area. In my area stone is commonly available from two quarries on opposite ends of the county. One produces stones of irregular shapes which stay in place somewhat better. The other quarry's stone tends to be more uniform and round in shape that never solidify and remain loose marbles.

A stone blend like crusher run makes great driveways but is less permeable to water. It contains a mixture of stone sizes and stone dust. The smaller particles fill in the space between the larger ones locking them in place to form a more stable road bed.

In my raised bed garden walkways I tried something similar to what you want to do with your driveway. Perforated drain pipe, landscape cloth and pea gravel on top. It drained beautifully but walking on it was a PITA as every step was like walking in sand. Over time the stones migrated downhill requiring annual dressing to pull them back up the hill. After a couple years of that I removed the system on the inclined portions and it only remains at the bottom flat area for drainage. Still a pain to walk on but at least the stones stay in the same general area.
Old 12-11-13, 10:54 AM
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My 1/4 + mile long driveway is on the side of a hill with about 7 turns [2 switchbacks] I have my driveway sloped to the inside, basically making the inside edge a drainage ditch. This works well to keep my road drained. My property is mostly slate rock with a thin layer of crusher run on the road. I would think having a ditch on one or each side of your driveway would take care of any drainage issues. You may or may not need a drain tile at the bottom to direct the water from the turn area.

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