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How to Build Gravel Roads

By Mike Parker
Gravel can help prevent deep rutting on a road.

When John Denver waxed lyrical about a country road taking him home, chances are the road he was singing about was a gravel road. The county or state government generally takes care of building and maintaining public roads, even those paved with gravel. But if you happen to live out in the country and have extensive wilderness property, you just might need to build your own road. Packed dirt may wash away too quickly and asphalt is expensive. Gravel may be the best choice for a private road

Plan your route. A straight line may not be the best route. Consider hills, streams, trees and other obstacles which may be between Point A and Point B. Beginning the job early in the day will allow for long shadows to help determine dips and rises in the terrain.

Set the blade on your tractor to cut. Adjust the blade perpendicular and slightly sloped toward the edge of the road. Try to always work uphill to help fill in any gullies. Grade one side of the road first, then grade the other side from the opposite direction.

Set the blade to drag by repositioning it slightly more than 180 degrees. Make two or three passes on each side of the road with the blade set to drag to fill in and level the road. Remember to work uphill whenever possible.

Lay driveway fabric over the freshly graded road to help prevent erosion. Layer a small amount of clay or silt on top of the fabric to hold it in place until you can layer gravel on top.

Spread a layer of crushed rock on top of the driveway fabric. The rocks should be larger than gravel, at least 20 millimeters in diameter.

Spread a layer of large gravel, between 15-20 millimeters, on top of the crushed rock. Drive over the road several times in both directions to pack the gravel down.

Spread a layer of small gravel, between 10-20 millimeters, on top of the large gravel. Drive over the road several times in both directions to pack the gravel down.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Tractor with a rear-mounted blade
  • Driveway fabric
  • Large-sized crushed rock, larger than 20 millimeters
  • Large-sized gravel, 15-20 millimeters
  • Small-sized gravel, 10-20 millimeters

Tip

  • Many communities have access to crushed rock and gravel from a local. Check your road regularly and top off with fresh gravel as needed. Be sure your road has adequate drainage. A slight crown in the center of your road may help to disperse water.

About the Author

 

Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.