If you have a large homestead, own a farm, or are clearing out new areas on your hunting property, a gravel road or driveway keeps you out of sticky situations. After all, you never know what the weather is going to be like! Putting in your gravel is a simple and efficient process. But it’s not a one-time event…you need to maintain your road or gravel driveway over the years to make sure it’s reliable when you need it to be — not pitted with washed out potholes or muddy trenches every 10 feet!
Have the Right Machine
A tractor or small dozer is a must-have if you’re going to be maintaining your own gravel roads. It can be a large tractor or a compact mini-dozer; you don’t necessarily need something like a large bulldozer, but you do need a lot more than a railroad tie pulled behind your lawnmower!
Use the Right Attachments
You’ll need to have a few different attachments to make sure the gravel is grated and smoothed properly. Some of the best ones to have on hand include:
- Box scraper
- Chain harrow
- Grader blade
…the smoother your surface, the better. Each of these attachments plays a different role in gravel maintenance. If you can only get one, the blade is probably the best one to have.
Make Multiple Passes
Always work uphill, so that your gravel doesn’t inadvertently get drug further away from high points. Gravity and time will do this for you. Use your dozer to pull the attachment across your gravel road several times, until you’ve achieved a smooth surface that’s consistent from one end to the other. If your road is flat (meaning there’s no hill or other type of incline,) have your attachments angled so that gravel is higher down the middle of the road.
Re-Trench for Drainage
A lot of gravel roads and driveways are flat and flush with the property. But in areas where there’s not adequate natural drainage, it’s important to make sure the road is built up enough with its own ditch on either side. Otherwise, you’ll constantly have to manage washout.
Manage Washouts ASAP
One or two good rains can put big ruts and washout areas in any gravel road. Practice good maintenance by making several passes over your surface once things dry out.
Bring New Gravel in Every Few Years
Over time, even a well-built gravel road can start to compact to the point that there’s not much rock to work with. When it does, bring in an extra few loads of gravel to lay down on top of your compacted base.