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Home » Hardscape » Driveway Construction » Gravel Driveway

Gravel Driveway

Several layers of rock are used to build a gravel driveway.
The initial layer is composed of large stones, sometimes as large as a person’s fist, that create a near-solid foundation.  While very stable, these stones form a surface that is too irregular to be safe for tires to drive on, or for feet to walk on.  Two additional layers are needed to make the driveway functional and aesthetic.  

The second layers of stones will be considerably smaller than the first, but large enough to fill in the gaps between the top of the larger stones.  The very top layer will be composed of a crushed gravel mix.   This is much easier on vehicle tires, and it holds its shape very well in the wet climate of the Houston landscape.  Along with the standard composition of small pebbles and tiny stones, crushed gravel is mixed with other materials including sand, dirt, and clay. 

While very simple in design, the stones used in this top layer still require some professional touches to prevent a gravel driveway from breaking loose under car wheels.  
Machine-crushed stones are the best stones to use in driveway design because they angular edges that interlock together when they are poured and pressed.   While this does not create a completely “solid” surface per se, it does form sufficient constitution for a heavy vehicle like an SUV to pull into the driveway without kicking gravel up behind it. 

This maintains the integrity of the driveway and prevents damage to vehicle paint.

Many Houstonians prefer gravel driveways because gravel costs less than other materials.
Driveways made of stone, concrete, flagstone, or brick can easily raise the price of an invoice significantly.  Many people prefer to invest this money in other aspects of landscaping, such as patio design or swimming pool design.

Maintenance costs are also lower for a driveway made from gravel because it has is no paved surface that will crack when the ground inevitably shifts. 
This is a definite advantage for homeowners facing foundation repair, because they can at least count on their driveway being one less thing they have to put money into repairing.  Low spots that do occasionally form can simply be raked out by hand. 

Gravel also adds curb appeal to the home and yard.
Aesthetically, it can blend with any style of landscaping.  Stones and pebbles are elements of nature itself and as such represent a ready compliment to plants, trees, and flowers.  Home architecture and residential landscaping design are further augmented by the color of the gravel itself.  Contemporary landscapes, for instance, gain immediate preeminence on a street when introduced by a light gray or even near-white gravel driveway.  

Another advantage offered by gravel offers is a significantly cooler surface temperature.
This is due to the fact that it reflects up to four times the amount of sunlight as do solid surface hardscapes. 

This being said, there is one thing that can go wrong with a gravel driveway, and that is the collection of standing water if it is not designed with proper drainage. 
This is why it is crucial to hire a professional landscaping company to develop the design and to oversee the construction of the surface.  The landscaper will see to it that a concealed drainage system is installed that will remain hidden from view, but nonetheless effectively facilitate water runoff.

This article was published on Thursday 29 July, 2010.

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