How to Build a Gravel Driveway or Pathway in 5 Steps

Outstanding article setting out how to build a gravel driveway or walkway. Includes pros, cons, cost per square foot, types of rock for the gravel and photos.

Have you ever been driving on rural roads, ripping along and all of a sudden you start bouncing around like crazy because you didn’t notice the road changed from asphalt to gravel?

I have.  It’s a bit scary and of course you worry you’ve damaged your vehicle.

You slam on the brakes to slow down and settle in for a bumpy ride.

Nobody likes driving long distances on a gravel road, but they’re used in low-traffic areas because they cost so much less than asphalt.

While it’s a bit odd starting off an article explaining how to build gravel driveways and pathways with an example of when gravel isn’t the most pleasant, that doesn’t mean gravel is not a viable option for your driveway or walkway or if a golf course, a golf buggy path.

A gravel walkway is a perfect type of path material for yards, gardens.  It’s also a viable option for driveways, especially long driveways. 

They’re less expensive, easy to maintain and when done right, look fabulous.  Consider many peaceful zen gardens use gravel paths extensively.

In fact, many golf courses opt for gravel pathways over concrete or asphalt because it looks more natural, can easily be moved and is much less expensive.

Benefits of Gravel Walkways and Paths

  • Costs much less than concrete or asphalt.  See out cost comparison below (huge savings0.
  • Gravel is also less permanent.  If you want it to be! In other words, when you pave, your path will be there forever, unless you have it ripped up by pros with large machines.
  • You can modify it.  When you choose a gravel-style path, you’ll be free to change it in the future if you want to, just by gathering the gravel, removing the underlay and covering the path with sod or grass seed. You won’t be locked in. However, if you do want to keep the gravel pathway intact over the long term, it will be easy to do so, as gravel is really pretty durable and low-maintenance!
  • Looks Natural.  Gravel is a very natural looking material for pathways… more so than concrete or asphalt.

Disadvantages of Gravel for Paths and Driveways

  • Maintenance:  You will need to maintain it.  At some point you’ll need to add new gravel where it thins out.  You also need to sweep displaced gravel back into place.
  • Appearance:  While it has a natural look, which can be an advantage, perhaps you don’t like the look of a less permanent option for your driveway.  It’s not as “clean-looking” as an asphalt or concrete driveway (especially if you compare it to stamped concrete which can look amazing).

Now, let’s go through the steps that you’ll need to take if you plan on constructing a gravel golf buggy path on your own, rather than outsourcing to a contractor. A contractor is likely to follow the very same steps!

5 Steps to Building a Gravel Driveway or Walkway

1. Plan Shape, Size and Placement

First you must plan out the size, shape and placement of the path and then measuring its dimensions. You’ll need to map out and measure your prospective golf path before you do anything else.

Accurate measurements will ensure that you order enough gravel and buy sufficient materials for the underlay. Every gravel drive should have an underlay, which reinforces it and deters water-logging and flooding. It will also deter weed growth.

Some people use plastic sheeting. These days, most people prefer to use plastic paving grids. They are affordable, permeable and designed to add tons of strength to pathways.

2. Dig up grass and topsoil

Once you have your measurements, you’ll need to dig up grass and topsoil along your future pathway. Dig up three inches of topsoil for every layer of gravel that you plan to put down. Adding three layers of gravel is pretty standard, so consider this layering before you place an order for gravel. Shoot for an overall thickness of four to six inches.

3. The Underlayer

After you dig out the topsoil, you’ll be ready to add your underlayer. We recommend ordering your underlayer materials online. Plastic paving grids are lightweight, so you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money on shipping. If you want a plastic sheeting underlayer, look for one in your community or online. Bear in mind that the plastic sheeting may erode over time and contribute to weed growth. Plastic paving grids will deter weed growth.

4. Spread the gravel

Once the underlayer is in place, it will be time to spread your gravel on top, in three even layers. Rake the stones in order to ensure that they are distributed evenly.

Don’t forget to distribute the gravel so that you end up with a crown which is a fancy way of saying that the middle of the driveway or path is slightly elevated.  This helps with water drainage.

5. Put In borders

Some people add borders to these pathways. However, most don’t, as golf buggy pathways tend to be long and this means that adding borders along both sides is quite an undertaking. If you do want a border, consider wood or larger stones.

How Much Do Gravel Driveways Cost to Install?

Gravel driveways cost a fraction of asphalt driveways.  Click here to read where one gravel driveway contractor says an $8,000 asphalt driveway would only cost $1,500 if done with gravel.  That’s a huge difference.

Generally a smaller, regular sized driveway (20’ x 20’) will run you $1,300 to $1,500, which is $3.75 per square foot.  Naturally, a buggy path or walkway will get you much more length for the same money because it’s not 20 feet wide.

Please note the above costs are averages.  Each construction project and site is unique and may cost more or less depending on the variables.

The Best Type of Rock Used for Gravel Driveways

When choosing gravel, your gravel should be machine crushed, dense-grade gravel.  Here’s why.

1. Machine crushed

Before getting into the rock type, you should know that you should use machine crushed rock instead of natural round pebbles. Crushed stone is angular and stabilizes better than smooth, round stones which displace.  If you use round stone, you’ll forever be maintaining the walkway or drive.

2. Types of rock

The main types of rock used for crushed gravel include:

  • Limestone
  • Traprock
  • Washed gravel
  • Granite
  • Argillite
  • Quartzite

You also must choose “the grade” of the gravel. For driveways and walkways, you want 1″ to 3/4″ grade gravel that is also dense-grade (see next item)(source: Braenstone.com)

3. Dense-grade gravel

Another rock consideration is getting what is called “dense-grade gravel” which has rock dust included in the mix.  This dust operates as a cohesive agent so the rocks stay in place (source: Gardening Channel).

Examples of Gravel Driveways (Photo Gallery)

 

About Fergus @MatsGrids
MatsGrids are suppliers of Ground reinforcement systems, grass reinforcement and protection mesh for domestic and commercial landscaping projects. Our business mission is to become the UK’s leading supplier of Recycled Rubber Grass Mats, civils and landscaping products. Over the last few years, our company has grown to become one of the UK’s most reputable suppliers to these sectors and today we supply our range of products to thousands of businesses and end users within the UK and overseas.

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