Build and Maintain a Gravel Driveway

A house with a mixed gravel driveway.
  • 16-20 hours
  • Beginner
  • 600-1,200
What You'll Need
Weed-blocking cloth (optional)
Wide rake
Flat shovel
Two stakes
String (line) level
Weighted roller (optional)

If you have a moderate slope or even a flat surface, a gravel driveway can be one of the easiest car paths to design and make yourself. Unlike asphalt, concrete, or brick, gravel driveways can easily wick away water without losing any vehicle traction.

Prep Your Driveway Area

You will want to make sure that the driveway's angle is less than five degrees in most cases, as the gravel will tend to migrate towards the bottom of the drive after a period of use. If it is more than five degrees in slope, you may have to rake up the gravel now and again towards the top. Try to avoid sweeping curves, as the gravel will also bunch up on the corner. Driveway design is critical towards producing a workable end product. If you so desire, you can put in a border of brick or treated wood to keep the gravel from spreading out during use.

The driveway area should be nice and level, at least as far as smoothness goes. You should remove any large rocks or roots, and heavily rake the ground. It is an excellent idea to place down a high-quality weed-blocking cloth over the area that has been prepared. Once the surface is ready, wet it down slightly with a light spray of water.

What Kind of Gravel?

For most gravel driveways, you want a depth of about two to three inches of gravel to provide a solid base that won't scatter too much. This will pack down to a finished depth of around 1½ inches. There are a couple of kinds of gravel that are common to use, but the larger the gravel, the deeper you will want the base. However, fine gravel (¼ inch) will hold its shape much better and requires less material.

Laying the Gravel

The gravel will probably be delivered by a large dump truck. It is a good idea to get the driver to place the pile of rock as close as possible to the new driveway to save on the number of trips you will be making using the wheelbarrow. Starting at the top of the gravel driveway, make piles of gravel scattered over the area, one about every two feet or so. Now you can begin scattering the gravel using the flat shovel and then start raking it out as evenly as you can.

When it looks fairly straight to the naked eye, place one stake in the ground at the top and another at the bottom. String your line level from the upper stake to the lower, and looking at the line, rake out any dips or hills until the whole gravel driveway is straight and even.

Wet down the gravel thoroughly with a hose and tamp it down completely. This is where using the weighted roller will really come in handy, but you can achieve the same results by driving back and forth over the new gravel driveway with your vehicle. Keep on spraying the gravel down until the grade is consistent.