Residential gravel driveways.

Gravel Driveways

Everything You Need To Know About Gravel Driveways
Find A Local Gravel Driveway Contractor

The Pros And Cons Of Gravel Driveways

Thoughts to consider when contemplating a new gravel or crushed stone driveway.

  • What are the benefits of gravel driveways vs. asphalt, concrete or concrete paver driveways?
  • What type of ongoing maintenance do gravel driveways require compared to asphalt, concrete or concrete paver driveways?
  • What size of stone is best for gravel driveways? Is there a benefit to a mix of different size gravel?
  • What material is best for gravel driveways? Crushed stone, gravel, pea gravel, crushed granite etc.?
Winding gravel driveway.

Considering A New Gravel Driveway?

Are Gravel Driveways The Best Choice For A Driveway?

A gray gravel driveway with red woodchip borders.

How common are gravel or crushed stone driveways?

Gravel driveways and crushed stone driveways can be seen all over the country. Regardless of the climate, gravel driveways dominate the scenery in rural areas, but by and large, can still be found in urban areas.

Basic gravel driveways are affordable and relatively simple to maintain, particularly in warmer climates that receive little or no snow.

More eye appealing gravel driveways can be installed with unique colors of gravel or crushed stone. Further more, multi colored designs with different types and colors of gravel can create beautiful, unique gravel driveway designs.

a crush stone gravel driveway with a sold base beneath it.

What type of gravel or crushed stone is best for gravel driveways?

There are many, many different ways to design a gravel driveway. Just about anything you can imagine can be designed and built. The main idea however, is to determine what you want the final result to be. 

Do you want to save money and just add gravel or crushed stone to your driveway to limit mud and potholes? 

Or do you want to install a very low maintenance, beautiful appearance gravel or crushed stone driveway?

A gravel driveway with little or no base preparation will look good for a year or two but will always need additional gravel or crushed stone added to freshen up the looks of the driveway. This is because of the constant kneading of the mud and gravel from car tires, causing the gravel and stone to be pushed down into the mud. 

A well designed, low maintenance gravel driveway is going to need a good sold base installed before decorating it with gravel or crushed stone on top. The design for a solid base is very similar to the design for an asphalt, concrete or paver driveway. This will keep the gravel or crushed stone from constantly sinking into the mud and needing refreshed frequently.

How well do gravel driveways hold up in snowy regions?

While gravel driveways are excellent in dryer climates with little or no snow, they can tend to be a high maintenance driveway in snowy regions.

In snowy regions they are much more difficult to maintain due to regular snow removal using plows.

Plowing is not a perfect science, therefore the plows tend to push the gravel along with the snow, resulting in piles of gravel in the spring where the snow was pushed to. 

If you’re planning on installing a gravel or crushed stone driveway and you live in a snowy region, plan on putting all of the gravel that was pushed off with the snow plow back onto your driveway every spring or at least after snowy winters. 

A gravel driveway in the winter
A road grader on a gravel driveway.

How long does it take to install a new gravel driveway?

Gravel driveways can be installed in the shortest amount of time with very little impact on the use of your driveway compared to the other driveway types.

Crushed stone or gravel driveway installation is relatively simple.

Most of the work is done with grading equipment and front end loaders so it can be completed fairly quickly with minimal impact on your daily routine.

Depending on the size of your driveway and scope of drainage planning involved, the construction of a new crushed stone or gravel driveway can be installed by an experienced grading contractor generally over a 1 to 3 day period.

You can also expect to drive on and use the driveway throughout the construction of of a gravel driveway. 

Gravel Driveways Compared To Other Driveway Types

Of the four types of driveways, a gravel driveway ranks at #4 when comparing the cost of installation and at #1 when comparing the ongoing maintenance of a driveway.

Cost Analysis Comparison

  • Paver Driveways - #1 - Most Expensive To Install
  • Concrete Driveways - #2
  • Asphalt Driveways - #3
  • Gravel Driveways - #4 - Least Expensive To Install

Gravel driveways are the least expensive driveway when comparing it to other driveway types.

Ongoing Maintenance

  • Gravel Driveways - #1 - Most Most Ongoing Maintenance
  • Asphalt Driveways - #2
  • Concrete Driveways - #3
  • Paver Driveways - #4 - Least Ongoing Maintenance

Gravel driveways requires the most amount of ongoing maintenance compared to other driveway types.

If the short term, up front cost is a deciding factor, gravel driveways are an excellent, low cost option. The long term trade off, however, is more ongoing maintenance costs.

If up front costs are not as important and aesthetics are the most important as well as having a hard driving surface, then Asphalt Driveways, Concrete Driveways or Paver Driveways are the alternatives. 

While initially the up front costs are higher, long term they require less maintenance costs. However, if you live in a snowy region, regrading a gravel driveway every year or two will likely need to be performed and can increase the maintenance costs. 

Life Expectancy Of Gravel Driveways

Gravel driveways, if installed properly, can last 10 or more years with regular upkeep and maintenance. The variation in age can be determined by the amount of slope on your driveway if any, the amount of curves in your driveway, the stability of the sub-grade, and the climate you live in.

Types of ongoing maintenance you can expect to perform on a gravel driveway?

  • Vegetation Control

    Applying herbicide on a gravel driveway
  • Raking - Grading

    Raking gravel on a gravel driveway
  • Dust Control

    Dust flying behind a truck on a gravel driveway
  • Pulling Weeds

    Pulling weeds out of gravel
  • Edging

    Weed eating the weeds on the side of a gravel driveway

Properly installed gravel driveways or crushed stone driveways will need an herbicide applied annually or bi annually to minimize vegetation growth.

Fine tuning and sprucing up and/or additional stone may need to be added every two to three years to keep it looking clean cut!

The amount of maintenance of a gravel driveway is directly correlated to the quality of the installation which includes the sub-base, the amount of slopes and curves you may have on your driveway combined with the amount of moisture and water runoff you receive.

Applying a herbicide prior to the initial installation can help to minimize the amount of vegetation growth that will occur during the life of your gravel or crushed stone driveway.

Keeping drainage planning in mind during the entire installation process will also help minimize ongoing maintenance.

Keeping drainage ditches cleaned out and guiding the water runoff will also help extend the life of your gravel driveway.

Also take into consideration the effects on gravel driveways if they're not maintained properly or how they can look as they age.

An old red gravel driveway
An old and poorly maintained gravel driveway.

As you can see, not maintaining a gravel driveway leads to weeds overgrowing the edges, blurring the clean cut look, and weeds creeping up into the gravel driveway making it look messy.

Choosing The Right Driveway For Your Home

When choosing between a gravel driveway and the other three types of driveways, answer these questions:


Is an GRAVEL Driveway Compliant with your HOA OR Municipality?

Be sure and check with your HOA or your local government municipality to make sure a gravel driveway is acceptable in the area you live. Some HOA's, municipalities or developments do not allow gravel driveways.


Will An GRAVEL Driveway Look Good In The Neighborhood You Live In?

Will a gravel driveway look good in front of your home? Maybe a different type of driveway will look better. Have you explored your options?

a gated gravel driveway
A snowy gravel driveway


What is the climate like in your region of the country? Is it cold and snowy? Rainy and wet? Hot and dry? Be sure and select a driveway type that make sense for your region.



If you want your driveway to last a lifetime, regular maintenance plays an important role in how long your gravel driveway will last.



How much and what kind of traffic do you expect to use your driveway? Normal, everyday passenger vehicle use or heavy vehicle use? Select a driveway that make sense.



Select a driveway that fits into your budget short term and long term. Would a low maintenance or maintenance free driveway like concrete or pavers make better sense?

A gray, circle gravel driveway.

Summary Of Gravel Driveways

Gravel Driveways can be a beautiful, low cost addition to your home. The wide variety of different colors of gravel and crushed stone available can provide for an endless amount of designs and colors. See some different Colorful Design Ideas For Gravel & Crushed Stone Driveways.

If you’re considering having a new gravel driveway installed, see our Gravel Driveway Installation FAQ’s section for more information.

You can also learn more about the ongoing maintenance of gravel driveways by visiting our Gravel Driveway Maintenance FAQ’s section section for more information.

Find A Recommended Gravel Driveway Pro

Join In On The Conversation