By "crushed gravel" driveways we mean those composed of coarse sand intermixed with small stones. But this terminology is regional, and many find it confusing. What we mean by "crushed gravel" driveways is distinct from what we would term, "stone" driveways.
Crushed gravel driveways are commonly composed of sand, silt, clay and larger aggregates (pebbles and small stones). Stone driveways, by contrast, are often more elegant. The source of the confusion over terminology is that the small stone used in stone driveways is sometimes also referred to as "gravel."
This addresses the fact that much confusion exists over the terminology used when discussing these driveways, despite their ubiquity. When we refer to "stone" driveways, we mean driveways whose surface is composed entirely of small stones. Obviously, water will drain through this material as it would through a sieve. By contrast, crushed gravel driveways, the subject of this article, have surfaces designed to shed water. This is accomplished through the sand, silt and clay particles between the larger aggregate, acting as a binder.
Some people may know this type of driveway as a "dirt" driveway. However, "dirt" is such an imprecise word that we avoid it here, despite the potential for confusion over the use of the term, "gravel."
A "Folksy" Option at a Lower Price
Because crushed gravel driveways are inexpensive, they are often the driveway of choice in rural areas where "keeping up with the Joneses" is not an issue. Homeowners can easily have more crushed gravel added periodically as ruts form and crushed gravel is lost; you just have another load of crushed gravel dumped and spread, although it's just a temporary fix.
On the other hand, crushed gravel driveways aren't the most attractive of driveways, although they may work fine aesthetically if you're striving for a "folksy" look in your landscape design. Crushed gravel driveways are a mixed bag in Northern climes. On the one hand, they "roll with the punches" comparatively well during the freezing/thawing cycle; "frost heaves" are a much bigger deal if you own, say, an asphalt driveway. But crushed gravel driveways can make snow-removal a bit more difficult: they lack a flat, clean surface over which to run a snowblower or scrape a shovel because small stones stick up and will be in the way.
Cost is usually relatively low
Reduction in frost heaves in cold climates
Less repair, since there's no "paved" surface to break
Snow-removal is a bit more difficult
Ruts can form relatively quickly, marring the appearance
With crushed gravel driveways, a base with good drainage is important, so make sure the individual installing your crushed gravel driveway pays attention to it, or you could be in for problems. Nonetheless, crushed gravel driveways do generally require less repair or maintenance jobs for you. There will be no sealing, no patching, and no cleaning because there isn't any hard surface that can be damaged or stained.
As mentioned above, crushed gravel driveways are designed to shed water. According to Russ Lanoie of Rural Home Technology, road surfacing gravel needs to be able to hold itself together to fight the effects of water and traffic. It requires binder, in the form of particles of silt and clay to fill the voids between the larger aggregates and act as a sort of cement. Surface gravel should not allow water to pass through it into the base. Instead, it should shed water to the ditches because of its shape.
Some, but not all, of the pros and cons listed here also apply to other driveway materials similar to crushed gravel; for instance, driveways composed of small stones, crushed seashells or cinder. Also note that not all crushed gravel driveways will perform the same way, due to the fact that their compositions will vary.