Want a New Driveway? – Pros, Cons, and Cost of Gravel

The driveway is the first thing you see when you approach a house and the last thing you notice when you leave. Your driveway delivers a first impression, good or bad, of your property and has a big impact on your overall curb appeal. So, what does your driveway say about your house?

If it’s time for a new driveway, and your home is primarily warm or neutral colors, think about using gravel as your Asphalt paving company material. Modern gravel driveways are a far cry from the raw gravel tracks you may have driven on in rural areas. Today, gravel can even look soft and compliment your landscaping and home color scheme.

What is Gravel?

Gravel is any loose rock that is bigger than sand but smaller than cobble. It’s used as substrate filler, aggregate in concrete, and in drainage features like a French ditch. But the gravel used in driveways is typically a processed product containing rock, sand, and clay. This combination makes gravel much easier to compact and less permeable. It is the least expensive driveway paving material available and that of course is a big plus.

Gravel has advantages, but it also has its challenges. Here’s a quick list of pros and cons of gravel:

Pros of Gravel Driveways

  • Ease of installation. In theory, all you need is a truck to drop the gravel where you want it and then drive over it a few times to compact it down. If you go that route, you’re in for problems. A professionally installed gravel drive starts with removing the top soil and placing down a garden fabric to prevent weeds from growing through your drive. Two layers of larger gravel are dropped, graded and compacted before the top layer is installed. Grading is required to ensure the drive has a crown for rain runoff.
  • Durability. Because gravel is fairly easy to maintain and replenish, it can last 100 years or more.
  • Customization. Depending on where you live, you may have a number of different colors of gravel to choose from. This allows you to convert your driveway into a landscaping feature complimenting the overall landscaping plan and the color/tone of your home.

Cons of Gravel Driveways

  • Frequent maintenance required. Gravel requires more frequent maintenance than asphalt, concrete or paving stones. It is more susceptible to drainage problems which can create potholes and ruts in the drive. Repairing these problems is a priority or they will quickly spread. While potholes can be a DIY project, grading the drive to minimize washouts requires heavy equipment.
  • Difficult snow removal. Because gravel is not a solid surface, removing snow with a snow blower or plow is difficult. Even if you are careful, you’re going to displace gravel if you try to shovel, blow, or plow snow off it.
  • Leaves, twigs, and other debris. Snow is hard to remove, but at some point it will melt and disappear. The same can’t be said for leaves and twigs. Removing this debris is pretty much stoop work. Rakes don’t discriminate between gravel and unwanted material. The best solution for cleaning a gravel drive is a gas or battery powered leaf blower.

How Much do Gravel Driveways Cost?

The cost of gravel driveways will vary depending on where you live, but at less than $1.00 to $3.00 per square foot, gravel is the least expensive paving material available. Even when you toss in the gravel replenishment and grading required, the fact that the driveway will last 3 to 5 times longer than asphalt, concrete, or paving stones makes it a real value.