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Old 06-10-2013, 02:00 PM   #1
76cruiser
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Default DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

All,

I recently finished my pole barn and added a concrete approach. I am ready to put in a gravel/dirt driveway to the county road (approx 90ft. long x 10ft. wide). I will need to put in a culvert pipe but that should not be a big deal. Anyway, I have called 6 contractors in my area and they all must be too busy to even consider the work.

I am thinking about renting a skidsteer and doing it myself. The driveway to my house is common road base you find on a county road in my area. Nothing special. I can order the same material for $5 ton and rent the skidsteer for $200 for the day.

My question is if this is a good idea for someone who has never even ran a skidsteer. I know the basics about removing vegetation and building a "hump" in the center so the water runs off. Any suggestions/ encouragement from the group? Your advice is appreciated.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

culvert pipe implies runoff issues to me and may be more work (alot more) than realized, hard to say w/ your query leaving out slope, terrian, and knowing the base condition and any other obstacles.

Long stretch for a bob in my opinion, seems like a grader and dozer may be in order to smooth the stretch and make proper run off where needed.

Edit: reread and now realize laying a new track.

Last edited by Automatic Slim; 06-10-2013 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

In no way am I discouraging you when I say this - if nothing else you will have a lot of fun learning to use the machine.

The pro's make it look really easy, your results will improve greatly if you have an area you can play in for even an hour or 2 before working on the drive. You can do it, it may not be as pretty but you will learn a great deal while doing it.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Agree with bojans. Play with the bobcat on the driveway before you start trying to spread the gravel. They are easier to pull the gravel than trying to push and level it. Some if the better dump truck drivers can spread the gravel better than you can with the bobcat. Ask them if the will do this when they drop it.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Bud if you've never graded with a skid steer before, I wouldn't suggest learning now. Making stuff flat with one takes a long time to master. And like NT pointed out, pulling it is way easier then pushing it. You'll master a gannon on a skip loader much faster then the skid steer.

Good luck
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Not that hard to run a bobcat with a few instructions, but everyone is different in their abilities. It is easier to run the bucket down and drag backwards to smooth out an area. Good Luck
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I don't know your local regs but the county might have some requirements about drainage in their right of way. Just make sure you don't accidentally dam up the ditch. If nothing else you don't want to make a mosquito breeding ground, and you want to make sure your new driveway isn't going to wash out into the ditch at the first rain.
I don't know much about how to ensure that, but I know you want to :-)
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

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Originally Posted by pmiranda View Post
I don't know your local regs but the county might have some requirements about drainage in their right of way. Just make sure you don't accidentally dam up the ditch. If nothing else you don't want to make a mosquito breeding ground, and you want to make sure your new driveway isn't going to wash out into the ditch at the first rain.
I don't know much about how to ensure that, but I know you want to :-)
I agree you better check with where the water is going.

I know you "cowboys" out west get a little more freedom, but still. I'd hate to see you get your ass in a ringer.

Good luck!
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Old 06-10-2013, 04:56 PM   #9
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Every gravel delivery guy I've ever worked with was happy to set the chains on the rear gate and pour a nice 4-6" driveway surface for me. The leftover work for the blade on my tractor is about an hours worth.
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I did mine with a 3 point back blade and a slip scoop. Sure it took awhile, but I had the tractor and blades. A bobcat type tool, will handle 90' x 10' easy, however the learning curve is kinda steep. Like others have said pull don't push, don't be afraid to get out of the cab and check your work. If you can, use story poles to gauge your progress.

I know in my area a LOT of cement contractors have a bobcat, would be a quick job for them. most construction guy want to build, not grade.

On a side note. I just had to re-grade the parking area (apron) in front of my shop, found out the gravel was 12" high in that area causing me massive water headaches. It looked flat, but I guess 30 years of re-stoning the drive, by both me and the PO, the height just crept up on me.

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Old 06-10-2013, 05:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I assume since you said you need to "put in" a gravel drive that there's no existing driveway.

There's a lot more to putting in a gravel drive then just laying down gravel. You need to remove the top soil, put in a good base maybe some fabric to keep the weeds down and then lay down the gravel. If you just put down gravel as soon as it rains it going to be mush and you loose all the gravel into the topsoil.

Not sure if you know what you expect or not but a dump truck of gravel doesn't go very far. I suspect that length of driveway will need multiple loads of gravel and base.

As far as the skid steer goes, everyone is different but most find it a piece of cake, building a long lasting driveway though isn't so easy.

Last edited by dlenkewich; 06-10-2013 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:28 PM   #12
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

You can do this. It will take you a lot longer than a pro, but you will learn as you go. It is going to be a lot of work. If you are ok with that, go for it. You already know you'll need to scrape off topsoil/organic material and built a hump and put down roadbase. Then either gravel atop the base or just leave it the roadbase.

I had an existing but deteriorating driveway [dirt] for which I tried to hire someone to fix with a loader or dozer for maybe two years. It was worse and worse in rain and snowmelt. I had promises from a half dozen contractors [never came to fruition] and actually verbally contracted with two guys, neither of whom showed up, ever, and the days I took off work to be there were wasted.

I finally went out and bought a Kubota tractor with a bucket and blade. That might sound extreme, but I was that frustrated. My first work with it was almost funny, but I got better and better. Since then, I've been maintaining my driveway [450 ft. long] myself and have become pretty good at it. Added bonus is I plow snow with the tractor and use it for many other chores.

Last edited by SteveCh; 06-10-2013 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Thanks Steve, this is similar to the issues I am having with excavation contractors in my area. No one wants to bother with a simple driveway. I thought a box blade might be an important tool to get a somewhat level surface.
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:07 PM   #14
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Thanks all for the input. The culvert pipe I mentioned is simply to run under the driveway when I build the driveway accross the culvert ditch.

I am estimating 30+ tons or 3+ trucks. Sounds like there is never a time to learn like the present.

Any word on compaction? I suppose I could rent equipment to cover that as well.
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I just did my gravel driveway, 12 x 140. You should consider a 12' wide at least. Easier to do it now than wish for it later. I rented a bobcat and did the core out myself. Plan for getting rid of the dirt, there will be a lot of it. It took me about 12 hours (2 days). The drive ended up 6 to 10 inch deep. It took 78 ton of gravel -6 loads in a six wheeler. I hired a local guy to haul, dumped and spread it for me.
PS - call J.u.l.i.e. before you dig. They will come out and check for hidden utilities. I though there was no chance of anything where I was and got a surprise! Turned out to be a old invisible fence wire buried. I freaked when I found it, didn't know what it was. I THEN called julie and they came out and marked out everything. Better safe than sorry.

Last edited by laser3kw; 06-10-2013 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:08 PM   #16
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Here is the project that we just finished. We have a natural slope to our property and rain really isn't an issue here in Cali.

We had about four hours of tractor time and a couple of days manual labor filling in the low spots and edges, and raking it out. I very happy with the way it turned out. If the gravel does sink a bit into the dirt in the future I'll just add more as needed. Right now it's compacting real nice as we drive over it.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:34 PM   #17
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlenkewich View Post
I assume since you said you need to "put in" a gravel drive that there's no existing driveway.

There's a lot more to putting in a gravel drive then just laying down gravel. You need to remove the top soil, put in a good base maybe some fabric to keep the weeds down and then lay down the gravel. If you just put down gravel as soon as it rains it going to be mush and you loose all the gravel into the topsoil.

Not sure if you know what you expect or not but a dump truck of gravel doesn't go very far. I suspect that length of driveway will need multiple loads of gravel and base.

As far as the skid steer goes, everyone is different but most find it a piece of cake, building a long lasting driveway though isn't so easy.
Very good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 76cruiser View Post
Thanks all for the input. The culvert pipe I mentioned is simply to run under the driveway when I build the driveway accross the culvert ditch.

I am estimating 30+ tons or 3+ trucks. Sounds like there is never a time to learn like the present.

Any word on compaction? I suppose I could rent equipment to cover that as well.
When it comes to the culvert pipe contact the county or whoever maintains the road. Ask them what size you need to put in, you may even find that they will put it in for you so it meets their criteria.

30 tons, I bet you double that.

It will help if you compact it, backing the dump trucks down the drive will help but some compaction between the loads will be the best. Talk to the stone haulers, get their advice as what to use for the base in your area and what they are using for the top layer. They will "tailgate" the load for you.

BTW, make sure the driveway is slightly higher than the yard, you don't want the rain to lay in your driveway.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:46 PM   #18
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Quote:
Originally Posted by 76cruiser View Post
I am estimating 30+ tons or 3+ trucks. Sounds like there is never a time to learn like the present.
Quick calculation (90' x 10' x 6" ) / 27 = 16.666 cu yds

If you have very soft or sandy soil you might need more.

Quote:
Any word on compaction? I suppose I could rent equipment to cover that as well.
Well, you aren't going to compact that with a plate compactor !

Running up a down IN A STRAIGHT LINE with the skid steer will do a pretty good job. I would lay down about 3-4" and compact that before laying down the rest.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:52 PM   #19
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Go for it. You will have a ball. As mentioned above, have the dump truck driver do most of the spreading for you. 90' is not that long. I did all of the dirt work for our 42x48 plus the apron, plus the approach with my skidsteer.
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Old 06-11-2013, 07:13 AM   #20
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Whenever I've put in or repaired a gravel driveway, after the topsoil removal, laid a 4"-6" layer of rock or busted concrete and then put on my top layer. I'm in the middle of repairing 15 years of neglected driveway. I have a 1000' and I've already put in 100 yards of material and I'll need probably another 75-100 more. I've never put down the fabric, but it sounds like a great idea.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:35 AM   #21
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Sounds like you are willing to learn and your new skills might come in handy when you need to maintain your driveways in the future. Unfortunately without a much better understanding of the conditions you have, we have no idea if a dozer, skidsteer or a compact utility tractor is needed for the job, but here are some thoughts anyway...

In general the project you are describing shouldn't be that difficult and a good opportunity to learn. It does take a little common sense though. We don't know what your soil conditions are so you have to figure out if topsoil needs to be removed for a properly compacted base or for elevation requirements to have the proper base depth. Keep in mind how and where the water will flow if you change elevations.

Make sure your new culvert is sloped the right way. Be very careful building up and compacting the material around and over the new culvert so you don't crush it when you drive over it with the Skidsteer or tractor for the first time. I also agree with the others that suggest you consider going wider than 10', really depends on what you are doing with the barn, only you know what you are going to use it for.

You mention a tractor with a scraper box; that would work well for maintaining a driveway but may be slow or impossible without the ripper teeth on the box and a decent size unit if you have to dig out a bunch of topsoil.

I would also recommend you consider doing the work next to the new apron by hand if you are just learning how to use one of these units - it is very easy to bump the controls the wrong way mess up your nice new apron.

Good Luck!
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Old 06-11-2013, 03:40 PM   #22
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

A skid steer cando a good job of making a driveway with an experienced operator. IMHO, it is easier for an inexperienced operator to run a conventional tractor w/ a box blade to do the same work. A scrape blade on a tractor that can be angled also does a better job of "crowning" the driveway which is essential to a long lasting driveway. YMMV.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:52 PM   #23
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I used a tractor with an adjustable box blade on the three point. We already had a 250' drive from the street to the house, and I wanted a 245' circle drive that would loop up in front of the house. Circle drive varies in width from 22' to 15'. I knew we would be moving lots of dirt, so I borrowed the tractor from my brother. I have since bought a small tractor to handle all our other hardscaping projects. When I am done, I will sell the tractor. BTW, I had never been on a tractor before starting this project.

Started with a very sloped front yard. Scraped up all the good soil (saved it to make a berm in the middle) and brought in a bunch of clay from a construction project dowh the street. Free dirt. Graded, graded some more and kept on grading until I got everything the way I wanted. Laid down some very heavy dutey road fabric (about $500 delivered to the house - and we had a little left over). We bordered it with chopped blue hacket.

80 tons of recycled concrete. Graded that for about 5 hours. Was advised to quit "working" it when the little bits just started to disappear.

We wet it down and compacted with a rented plate compactor that vibrates. Very solid.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:56 PM   #24
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

After getting the drive done we added a "landing area" and stone steps (600 lbs each) going up towards the house.

Tore out the old narrow sidewalk and poured a new walk that went up to the porch and connected to the walk going around to the garage.

OK, so this part has nothing to do with the driveway question. Just wanted to show that we finished it off.
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:58 PM   #25
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Make sure to look into the fabric that you often see them putting under roads. Its not really for weeds. I'm pretty sure it is to actually hold all the base material you put in together. Basically keeps your road from sinking into the ground. I've seen drive ways that are nice hard pack until you get off into an area without fabric and a 3/4 ton truck will sink into the gravel.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:38 PM   #26
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I vote for doing it yourself. I widened my drive way and removed some old blacktop parking area. I rented a Bobcat skid loader and concrete saw. I cut the blacktop where I wanted to keep it nice and straight. I used the skid loader to lift and break it up and load it onto a trailer I also rented. I moved the larger sub base rock under the blacktop to my driveway. Then I attacked the two grass strips on either side of the driveway with the skid loader. I put the grass and dirt into the parking area and leveled it out making my yard bigger. I spred the pile of sub base where the grass strips were and leveled them. Then I had a few loads of rock delivered and spread over the entire driveway. I had a blast driving and playing in the dirt with the skid loader and when people ask I can say I did it myself.


I had alittle experiance driving a skid loader when I was younger but never leveling dirt and stone. You get the hang of it pretty quick. Good luck and have fun.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:41 PM   #27
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

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Make sure to look into the fabric that you often see them putting under roads. Its not really for weeds. I'm pretty sure it is to actually hold all the base material you put in together. Basically keeps your road from sinking into the ground. I've seen drive ways that are nice hard pack until you get off into an area without fabric and a 3/4 ton truck will sink into the gravel.
Exactly. It is for soil stabilization.

Ours has not settled in 3 years.
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Old 06-12-2013, 08:51 AM   #28
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Here's some pics of what I've been doing to fix my driveway. This is the end of my driveway nearest the road and one of the biggest holes I had to fix. I pulled up the existing road gravel so I could reuse it. The hole where the concrete is ended up taking 15yards of large "stuff". Before I dug it out, it was about 18" deep, 20' long and constantly had water in it. After dumping the big "stuff", I put road gravel over it. One of the wettest springsI can remember and it's still firm and dry. I still need to dig ditches for drainage and I want to put one more thin layer of crushed concrete. The spring will really tell if I did a good job. I did all the work with the 8n, a back blade and a drag bucket. I'm guessing the skid steer will be harder to learn but easier to use. i would lay the fabric down, I just don't have the money.
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Old 06-12-2013, 12:35 PM   #29
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nighttrain View Post
Agree with bojans. Play with the bobcat on the driveway before you start trying to spread the gravel. They are easier to pull the gravel than trying to push and level it. Some if the better dump truck drivers can spread the gravel better than you can with the bobcat. Ask them if the will do this when they drop it.
Exactly! They can chain the tailgait to open only six or eight inches, Raise the bed, release the tailgate latch as they drive and it should lay down a fairly level road.
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:26 PM   #30
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

I had gravel delivered for short driveway in the city. I asked the driver to tail gate it & he said he couldn't. Later while talking to another truck driver he said I should of offered a tip to get him to tail gate the gravel. I would have gladly tiped him to do it. Wouldn't hurt to ask if he refuses.
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Old 06-12-2013, 02:41 PM   #31
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Default Re: DIY Gravel/Dirt Driveway

Back when I drove a 5 ton dump in the army, we used to say "run it out," never heard of the term tailgate "it."

I've had several drivers through projects run it out & it is easier to move, most can lay the drive itself, but I don't know much - but do know, the road is only as good as the surface it is laid upon, and that to me is the question at hand - grading 90ft of a hard undulating surface for road top preperation may be issue.

Too many unknowns, I guess I would have to "walk it" before I talked "tailgage."

Many roads will need a heavier base and then resurfaced after a few years, esp. after a hard winter w/ the thaw cycle. I've seen roads get sucked to china in less than a year. The base material will need careful consideration, and then build from there, imo.
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