DIY Gravel Driveways

DIY Gravel Driveways



How to effectively lay and make the most of a new gravel driveway using plastic porous pavers to keep the gravel in position and prevent it shifting through use. 

Enjoy the benefits and remove the downsides of gravel with pavers

If you fancy the undoubtedly good looks of gravel and experience the characteristic ‘scrunching’ of car tyres then laying your own driveway can be done at reasonable cost and without too much expertise required.

The downsides of gravel – the annoying way it can become displaced over a period of time – can be taken overcome through the use of clever plastic paving mats.

Gravel’s popularity and good drainage properties

Along with the look and the characteristic sound, gravel is also good for drainage purposes so long as the base is constructed properly. If you’re replacing a natural absorbent surface such as grass with a hard, man made surface then there is a drainage implication.

With the increase of hard surfaces as built up areas expand and more housing is built, it’s causing drains to become overloaded in periods of higher rainfall as water runs off hard surfaces instead of being absorbed naturally through soil. Therefore, a gravel surface can be better for drainage than – say – asphalt or block paving.

This is very helpful in maintaining sustainable urban drainage systems (SuD) and the environmental draining of water where it drains naturally into the ground rather than running off.

Getting the basics right

Constructing a suitable base is paramount to making a gravel drive that will drain properly and last years; it may take a lot of work in terms of maybe removing the previous layers, disposing of the resultant materials and then laying a new one.

You may find the amount of aggregates required to create the sub base may be more than you think, so calculate carefully. Your aggregates supplier should be able to help.

If you intend to add a weed membrane then this commonly goes under this base layer but can go on top.

To compact it and establish the small gradient to help drainage, you’ll ideally use a powered vibrating plate, more commonly known as a ‘wacker’, to accomplish this. They can easily be hired.

The next step is layering sand on top, and as with the aggregates for the base layer, the amount you require may surprise you so work out carefully what you need.

Overcoming the ‘shifting gravel’ problem

To prevent gravel shifting around over time and meaning you’re forever having to move it back into place, at this stage it’s worth considering laying plastic pavers before the gravel.

Examples such as the Suregreen porous paver are plastic grid-like mats featuring holes in a honeycomb-like formation; these are filled with gravel as it is layered on top. This effectively keeps it in position and prevents the shifting that inevitably happens through the constant manoeuvring of cars and other vehicles.

Quick and easy

You may find laying the porous pavers the quickest part of the job; so long as the sand layer is fully flat, the pavers will lay easily and securely on top. Multiple mats can be easily connected to form one large, secure surface.

Once the pavers are in place and ‘connected up’ then the final step is to lay the gravel ensuring of course that the paver’s cells, or holes, are fully filled before the gravel covers the paver over.

The paver trump card

In one fell swoop, the quick, cost effective use of efficient plastic pavers removes the main drawback of gravel and means you’ll a stylish, low maintenance, efficient and environmentally-friendly driveway.