There are many different materials that can be used to create a driveway, including concrete, brick, asphalt, or even shells, but crushed gravel is the right choice when you are looking for an affordable material that's relatively easy to install and available in a wide range of colors. This versatility allows crushed gravel to pair well with many different styles of house, ensuring you get a functional driveway that matches the home aesthetic.
However, crushed gravel driveways do require regular maintenance and if the driveway isn't installed properly, then this material can be prone to ruts and potholes. Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions regarding the installation of a gravel driveway. HOAs and some municipalities don't allow them. Be sure to check for any permitting restrictions first.
If you are still on the fence, keep reading for a more thorough look at the pros and cons of a crushed gravel driveway.
What Is Crushed Gravel?
Crushed gravel driveways refer to those composed of coarse sand intermixed with small stones. Typically, the bottom layer is made of a mixture of sand, dirt, and stone. The middle layer of the driveway is primarily made up of simple gray gravel, and while the top layer can also be made with gray gravel, many people choose a more decorative option that matches the aesthetic of the home, like marble chips or pea gravel.
Easy to install
Variety of design choices
Resists shifting due to frost heaves
Prone to ruts and potholes
Requires regular maintenance
Crushed Gravel Cost
One of the most important considerations for many people is the cost of the material, but there is good news with crushed gravel because it's one of the more affordable driveway options available. Typically, a gravel driveway will cost about $1.25 to $1.80 per square foot, taking into consideration that the driveway is constructed with several layers for improved support and to help prevent the driveway from shifting.
Depending on the size of the driveway, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $300 to $60,000. However, most projects will fall into the lower end of this range with an average price between $2,250 to $5,900, according to HomeAdvisor. Just keep in mind that if you have an existing driveway that needs to be removed before the new gravel driveway can be installed, you will probably need to pay an extra $1,000 to $4,000 for this service.
Maintenance and Repair
There are significant maintenance differences between having a concrete or asphalt driveway and a crushed gravel driveway, so it's important to learn how to take care of this material in order to extend the life of your new driveway. Regular maintenance should include raking the driveway to keep the surface level, while removing debris like leaves or sticks. You will also need to be careful during snow removal to prevent shoveling away the top layer of gravel. To help avoid this problem, it's recommended to leave about an inch of snow on the driveway.
Even if you are careful while shoveling, crushed gravel has a tendency to be swept away by rain or meltwater. This means that you will need to add gravel to the driveway to replace what may have been lost during the winter. Additionally, you will want to stay on top of pothole repairs to prevent damage to your vehicles.
Gravel driveway repair contractors can complete this work quickly and effectively, but if you choose to do it yourself, just keep in mind that you need to rent or purchase a plate compactor because simply shoveling the gravel into the pothole won't fix the problem.
While trying to decide on the right type of crushed gravel for your home, it's important to keep in mind that the driveway doesn't just have to be functional, it should also look good with the home. This means that you may want to take some time to think about whether you want a plain, gray crushed gravel driveway or if you want to invest in a product with a more outstanding aesthetic, like marble chips, pea gravel, or decomposed granite.
Driveway gravel is available in two primary types, including naturally formed gravel, like pea gravel or river rock, and crushed gravel which is made by crushing larger pieces of rock in a quarry, like decomposed granite. Keep in mind, left over gravel can be used to create pathways or even to decorate a garden.
Crushed Gravel Installation
If a gravel driveway isn't installed correctly, it can shed the top layer of gravel quickly and begin to develop serious ruts and potholes that can damage your vehicles. So, if you plan on installing the crushed gravel driveway yourself instead of hiring professionals to get the job done, it's important to have a firm understanding of the process. This includes a firm base, good drainage, a binder to hold the gravel together, as well as the right tools to complete this project.
Gravel driveways are built in several layers, with most projects requiring a depth of about 4 to 6 inches per layer that starts with a base made of a mixture of sand, dirt, and large 6-inch stones. The second layer is intended to provide drainage, so it typically consists of 2.5-inch to 3-inch crushed gravel that allows water to drain freely through the aggregate. Finally, the top layer should be made up of a functional and decorative style of crushed gravel, like decomposed granite or pea gravel. These layers need to be packed and tamped down with heavy machinery to ensure that the driveway won't shift or crumble with regular use.
While you can attempt to tackle this job on your own, it's recommended for most DIYers to hire a professional gravel driveway installation company that has the required tools and experience to successfully complete the installation.
Top Brands of Crushed Gravel
When it comes to finding an attractive style of crushed gravel to accent or match the appearance of your home, it's recommended to rely on reputable brands that have specialized in creating and selling aggregate materials for years, such as SouthWest Boulder & Stone or Vulcan Materials.
- SouthWest Boulder & Stone began several decades ago and has quickly grown into a go-to brand that specialized in drought-tolerant landscaping, custom fountains, boulders, and aggregate materials, like pebbles, crushed gravel, and decomposed granite.
- Vulcan Materials Company is a powerhouse in the aggregate supply industry, which shouldn't come as a surprise given that the company was founded over a century ago and has continued to grow and improve the range of offerings they have available for prospective customers.
Is Crushed Gravel Right For You?
Before deciding to install a crushed gravel driveway leading up to your home, it's important to consider whether this material is the right choice for you.
- Affordable: Crushed gravel is an inexpensive driveway installation material, so you can save some money by investing in this product instead of paying for asphalt, concrete, or interlocking brick.
- Easy Installation: While it is recommended to hire a professional gravel installation company to complete this project, experienced and knowledgeable home DIYers can install a crushed gravel driveway without professional help as long as they have the right tools and machinery.
- Frost-Heave Resistant: Concrete, asphalt, and interlocking brick driveways often crack, shift, and warp in colder regions due to frost-heave, which occurs when the soil freezes and expands. Crushed gravel tends to handle this situation better because it doesn't hold moisture.
- Design Variety: Get a driveway that looks great with your home by opting for crushed gravel as an installation material. It comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, so you can find a type that suits your tastes and home aesthetic.