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The Best Way to Grade a Gravel Driveway

If your home features a gravel driveway, you know doubt are aware of the upkeep needed to keep it in good condition. Because of the loose gravel, the driveway will often settle in spots creating potholes, uneven areas and washed-out patches after heavy rains. Occasional grading of the driveway is key, but can be a tricky and time-consuming process. You can go about this in several ways, some producing better and longer-lasting results.

Mechanical Grading

Using mechanical means to grade your driveway will produce the best results and typically last the longest. This is because making use of mechanical tools enables you to dig deeper into the gravel layers than you could by hand, and it will more evenly distribute gravel to fill up uneven areas. Unfortunately the mechanical tools in question will require some money and experience to use. The most common way of mechanically grading a gravel driveway is by using a truck or tractor with a grading blade attached. Many hardware or heavy machinery supply stores will carry several types of tow-behind grader blades. These are similar to large rakes that attach to a tow-hitch on a truck or tractor and allow you to drag it slowly up and down the driveway. The blades will dig into the gravel and redistribute it in even layers, freshly mixed as it was when it was first laid down. This will not only refill potholes and washed out areas, but will also help to repack the gravel and restrengthen weakened areas.

By Hand

Using manual labor and hand tools is not recommended as a long-term solution to grading gravel driveways, but if you lack the necessary mechanical tools to grade then there are some short-term options available. Using a heavy metal rake, you can distribute gravel from high points along the driveway into potholes that have formed. Be sure to dig deep into the ground to churn up loose gravel and dirt from the layers below. This will ensure that instead of simply placing loose stones from the top layer into the potholes you are actually completely moving several layers of stone and sand, which will help the newly filled areas pack down and remain in good condition. Unfortunately, these manual methods still will not produce the same quality of grading or long-term fixes that using a true trading blade would. Often you will find that you simply cannot distribute the dirt and gravel evenly enough by hand, and even if you do, chances are it will not be mixed well enough to sufficiently pack down.

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