How to Improve the Drainage of Your Gravel Driveway

New Home with gravel driveway
  • 6-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 15-500
What You'll Need
What You'll Need

A gravel driveway looks good, although if you have drainage problems, it won’t look quite as appealing as it might otherwise. Where you have drainage problems on the gravel driveway, they need to be fixed. It’s a lengthy process that involves a great deal of work but is worthwhile in the end. Follow the steps below to make your gravel driveway drain more effectively.

Step 1 - Remove Gravel

Regardless of what you’re going to do to improve the drainage on the gravel driveway, your first step is to remove the gravel. Shovel off as much as possible, putting it on the front yard or close to the driveway so it will be easy to replace. Finish by raking off the rest until you’re all the way down to bare earth.

Step 2 - Crown

raking gravel driveway

With a level check how to level your driveway is. Lay the level across the driveway to check. You need to raise the crown at the center of the driveway. This will encourage the water to run off to the sides. Bring dirt in for this, making sure the slope on each side is even. Tamp the dirt down firmly and then put the gravel back in place, keeping an even layer. You should make sure there’s a 6-inch layer of gravel on top of the dirt.

Step 3 - Drains

Now that you’ve improved the drainage to the sides of the gravel driveway, you need something to take the water away. Digging trenches and installing drains will do this. You’ll need to dig down 18 inches and make sure the trench slopes slightly along its length to carry off the water. Put a 4-inch layer of gravel at the bottom, and then add plastic piping. Before laying the pipe, drill holes in it to absorb the water. Cover with another 6 inches of gravel and then put dirt on top, tamping it down firmly.

Step 4 - Pavers

There's another way to help with the drainage of the gravel driveways and that’s using porous pavers. As the name implies, these are pavers that sit under the gravel driveway but allow the water to drain through easily into the ground. After you’ve removed the gravel from the driveway, dig down another 6 inches and make sure the driveway is level across its width. You should ideally have a slope along the length of the driveway. Ideally, this will be away from the house, but this isn’t always possible.

Tamp down the earth lightly and then install the pavers over the entire driveway. These will be strong enough to take the weight of vehicles when covered with gravel. You only need to set these pavers loosely in place; there’s no need to mortar in place, and don’t pack them too tightly. Return the gravel to the driveway, but give a depth of around 7 inches on top of the pavers, taking care to ensure that it’s level across the driveway. Tamp down lightly as you go to be certain you distribute the weight evenly.

Improve Gravel Driveway Drainage FAQ

How do you divert water runoff from gravel driveway?

A shallow trench can catch and divert runoff. A gravel-lined trench is particularly helpful at the base of a slope or alongside the gravel driveway.

Dig the trench where the water is collecting and place the trench so that the water will run down it, away from the driveway, and end up somewhere it cannot cause erosion or damage. You might even consider diverting the water to go into a collection barrel or into a garden irrigation system.

How do I stop my gravel driveway from flooding?

There are several ways to prevent driveway flooding. You can add a gradient to give the driveway an intentional slope, which will cause the water to run down it rather than pooling up.

Porous paving is designed to soak up water so that it doesn't end up in places you don't want it to go.

Trench drains are also a highly effective solution when you have any sort of drainage issue on your property.

How do you keep gravel from washing away on a slope?

Borders and pavers can be used to define the boundaries of a gravel driveway and effectively hold the gravel in place. Pavers are a very good way to stabilize gravel and keep it in place, even on slopes.

Will a French drain work in a gravel driveway?

French drains, which are essentially perforated pipe inside a gravel-filled trench, works very well to deliver drainage away from driveways. However, remember that the pipe must withstand the weight of vehicles going over it.

Bury the pipe at least 18 inches deep and cover it evenly with gravel so that the weight of vehicles will be absorbed and dispersed by the gravel. This will protect the pipe below and keep it from breaking.

What is the best drainage for a gravel driveway?

The best drainage option for a gravel driveway is probably a drainage ditch. This is a very simple solution that can be a fairly straightforward DIY project, which makes it a good solution for all homeowners.