View Full Version : Smoothing a gravel driveway...


Printer Mike
11-18-2010, 09:22 PM
My daughter's house has a short gravel driveway that runs from a concrete slab carport to a nice semi-private(no traffic to speak of) asphalt city street. There are no funds for doing any paving. I want to make a better surface for my young grandkids to ride their tricycles, etc. I was considering buying or making a tamper, and trying to pound the gravel smoother. The gravel is crushed granite and the soil is sandy clay.

Any thoughts? Thanks...

CreekRat
11-18-2010, 09:29 PM
I ready several posts talking about the benefits of reclaimed (ground up) asphalt. They say it's cheap and packs down tighter than gravel and stays packed.

Mike in Ohio
11-18-2010, 09:47 PM
You could rent a plate compactor for a day and pack it pretty good. I think it was $45.00 for the one I rented this summer at the local tool rental place.

Torque1st
11-18-2010, 11:03 PM
Running over it with a skidloader and a toothed bucket will even it out. Then a plate compacter can be used to pack it smooth.

Spraying the gravel with a herbicide helps keep the growing stuff out. Read the directions on drying time before the G-kids can play on it.

Racecarl
11-18-2010, 11:20 PM
To get the gravel part of the drive smooth you need to knock off the high spots. This works best after a light rain, say .25" or less. There are several ideas of items you can use as a drag. I might suggest a couple of big heavy pieces of angle iron welded so the corner points are facing down. Pile on some bricks or other weights and use a garden tractor to drag this implement up and down the drive. It will take several passes to get things leveled up. Once you get it how you want it, you could pack it with a plate compactor as mentioned above or just drive the lawn tractor up and down the drive to pack things down.

Grumpy365
11-18-2010, 11:21 PM
If you don't have the appropriate tools (tractor) or money to rent the appropriate tools, you have to makeup up with ingenuity.

I have gone as far as dragging a pallet with a truck (the pallet doesn't have enough weight to smooth anything unless you have significant weight on top of it).

heathkiks
11-19-2010, 12:21 AM
All of the above are somewhat 'redneck'... not that that is bad(I am one). The best and cheapest way for your situation is magnesium chloride. Pack like concrete and not dusty. Spray on and compact with plate compactor.

T.Hadley
11-19-2010, 03:09 AM
All of the above are somewhat 'redneck'... not that that is bad(I am one). The best and cheapest way for your situation is magnesium chloride. Pack like concrete and not dusty. Spray on and compact with plate compactor.

X2:thumbup:

brownbagg
11-19-2010, 07:52 AM
cement is the only answer

jhelrey
11-19-2010, 08:11 AM
As a landscaper, I would be using a skid loader and pulling up a chunk of your gravel and putting it into a pile. I would layer it 1.5 inches at a time and spread it out with the skid and a rake. A little moisture from the hose and plate compact it. Repeat until desired height is met. I also would be using a laser level and reader to get it about where I want it.

It will never be flat or hard enough to ride a trike on, etc.

banzaitoyota
11-19-2010, 09:48 AM
I have started using recycled concrete as my initial base. cost becomes an issue when you have 2000' of snad driveway to deal with

Falcon67
11-19-2010, 10:31 AM
If it's real gravel, it'll never pack. If it's road base, or "caliche" type stuff it can be watered and packed with a heavy roller. I have seen rock driveways that were like concrete, but it takes heavy equipment.

scottzilla
11-19-2010, 10:58 AM
No way your grandkids can pedal a tricycle on anything other than asphalt or concrete unless the bike has tall rubber wheels.

nehog
11-19-2010, 11:00 AM
Round here I'd back drag it with my snow plow to level it out, then either use my tractor with the roller, or just drive my bigger truck down and up for a bunch of passes.

But a rake, and a plate compactor (rented) will work just as well.

LEVE
11-19-2010, 11:12 AM
Any thoughts? Thanks...Sure... watch Craigs list. I found this for $300 to maintain my driveway and lawn. The weight can be increased to 2000lbs.

Lippyp
11-19-2010, 11:37 AM
My drive is made of 20mm crushed sandstone, when it was new it was loose although it had been well packed down by the contractor simply by running his tracked digger back and forth over it. Six or seven years on its now rock hard and the kids can easily ride bikes on it. Mind you it don't look great as its gathered mud over the years.

csp
11-19-2010, 11:58 AM
Unless the gravel has some fines in it you'll never get it very smooth or keep it smooth. It takes fines to compact tight and to keep it tight.

STINEY
11-19-2010, 12:45 PM
#411 mix from the local quarry. It is also known as "burm material" and several other names.

Happens to be the cheapest material from the quarry as well. It is a mix of stone "dust" and small stones. Will pack into a surface that is next to concrete in smoothness. I use it for about 1/4 mile of driveway and also inside some of my buildings for a cheap floor, where only cars & equipment is stored.

Gravel by nature will never truly settle down good enough for riding a bicycle on. I guarantee the 411 will.

Good luck!

ishiboo
11-19-2010, 12:46 PM
#411 mix from the local quarry. It is also known as "burm material" and several other names.

Happens to be the cheapest material from the quarry as well. It is a mix of stone "dust" and small stones. Will pack into a surface that is next to concrete in smoothness. I use it for about 1/4 mile of driveway and also inside some of my buildings for a cheap floor, where only cars & equipment is stored.

Gravel by nature will never truly settle down good enough for riding a bicycle on. I guarantee the 411 will.

Good luck!

Yeah, or 1/4 with screenings. I filled in the potholes with 3/4 + screenings and it packed down pretty well - 1/4 like you said gets wet and practically turns to cement :)

Tman
11-19-2010, 03:37 PM
My daughter's house has a short gravel driveway that runs from a concrete slab carport to a nice semi-private(no traffic to speak of) asphalt city street. There are no funds for doing any paving. I want to make a better surface for my young grandkids to ride their tricycles, etc. I was considering buying or making a tamper, and trying to pound the gravel smoother. The gravel is crushed granite and the soil is sandy clay.

Any thoughts? Thanks...

Junk the tricycles and buy them Striders! They learn how to actually ride and can navigate ANY terrain. My 4 year old rips on his.

www.stridersports.com

Dragster Racer
11-19-2010, 05:55 PM
You will need some fines as was mentioned. Get it as flat as you can, then go with fines and smooth and compact. A good well done gravel driveway can be great. It takes a good base of rock, and then the fines.

drmoonshine
11-19-2010, 06:03 PM
I don't see a way of packing it down while allowing kids top ride on it.

jhelrey
11-19-2010, 06:10 PM
Use 3/4 Limestone with fines or crushed concrete.

Dragster Racer
11-25-2010, 08:41 AM
After you get the fines on, get a compactor and walk it around. I use my roller, but it isn't nearly as good as a compactor.

Kevin54
11-25-2010, 09:02 AM
X4 on the fines. The fines will be about an 1/8 of an inch is size. But you did not mention what type of gravel that you have. Crushed stone is decent. If the stones are creekwash and round, then you are basically screwed. Your best bet is crushed limestone with stonedust, then topped off with fines. Along with that, depending on the length of your driveway, get a bunch of sacks of Sakrete. Once you have everything tamped and leveled, spread the Sakrete very liberally over the top of the driveway and tamp it down. Then water it in and let it dry. It will help prolong the driveway without letting the gravel shift and it will harden it up.
The bad thing about a gravel driveway is that if you have an area of it that you have to turn in, say a 90 degree driveway, where you turn will scoot the gravel away after a while. This needs to be re-leveled every year or so. Also an edging along the drive will keep the gravel from spreading out wider into the yard over the years. But with gravel, driving in the same spot multiple times a day will leave a high spot in the middle or ruts where the tires run. So periodically the drive will need to be re-leveled. That is just one of the downfalls of having gravel.