A gravel driveway is a great way for a homeowner to be able to do lay their own driveway and keep their costs relatively low. Unlike an asphalt or cement driveway, a homeowner can complete this task without having to purchase or rent heavy equipment, and the materials are, on the large part, cheaper.
A gravel driveway is a project that a homeowner can successfully do on their own with the right supplies and know-how. For example, basic hand tools can be used for a smaller driveway, but for anything that is over 300 square feet, a garden tractor, or some other type of rented equipment, will make the job much easier. Using hand tools for that large of a driveway would take a substantial amount of time and it would be much harder to achieve the professional look you want.
Like with any do-it-yourself project, you must take time to plan prior to the project. Before you start, make sure to take into consideration all of the supplies and equipment you will need for your driveway plan, as well as the materials.
Most gravel driveways require three different levels. There is a base level that has a larger stone that forms a solid foundation. On top of this will be a smaller aggregate that is compacted and smoothed. Then for the top-most level, you will have crushed rock, some sort of decorative stone, or just finely sifted gravel set to a certain size. The base gravel can range from $1 to $3 per square foot. The second layer of aggregate can be $3 to $4 per square foot. From here the cost will begin to climb depending on the type of finishing material that is chosen. Decorative rock can be $7 and up, while a sifted, one-inch gravel stone can be $4 to $6 per square foot; not to mention, the larger the actual driveway, the more your materials will cost.
Smaller driveways are not going to need heavy equipment to push around dirt and level things out. Anyone with some basic hand tools like shovels, rakes, hoes, straight lumber to level off the gravel, and a hand stamper can create a very nice gravel driveway. However, for driveways over 300 square feet, you will want to use power tools and even a tractor of some sort. Rental equipment is the best way to go, but it does carry some cost. Renting a compactor can average about $65 per day and a roller attachment for a tractor can start at $100 per day.
A gravel driveway is a cheaper alternative for a homeowner in both its installation and long term care. Once the driveway is completed, the homeowner will need to do some yearly maintenance. Fixing of potholes from the rain, keeping the gravel level, and removing, or compacting, stones that have moved to the surface are all parts of owning a gravel driveway. If you can use equipment you already own, your only cost will be on time. Proper care can also go a long way in preventing any more costly maintenance.