If you're considering installing a new gravel driveway or updating an existing one, selecting the right type of gravel can help determine how long it will last. Different types of gravel can offer different benefits depending on the size and style you use.
In this blog post, we will examine different types of gravel and discuss what gravel is best for driveways. From crushed stone and gravel to decomposed granite and pea gravel, we will take a look at each option and provide an overview of their pros and cons. We'll also provide some helpful tips to guide you in selecting the right gravel type for your driveway.
Gravel is rock fragments that have been screened through machines, sorting out different sizes.
Gravel is used for a wide range of purposes including decorative landscaping, and driveways, or even used as an aggregate in concrete or asphalt, depending on the size.
What Different Sizes Of Gravel Are Available?
When on gravel, it’s important to consider the different sizes available.
Common sizes include:
- Fine (Smaller than ¼ inch) – Ideal for walking paths or playgrounds
- Medium (¼ inch - 1 inch) – Ideal for driveways or drainage systems particularly when mixed with crushed stone.
- Large (1 ½ inch to 2 inch) – Ideal for erosion control or base material for roads
- Extra Large (3 inches - 4 inches) – Ideal for erosion control or as a temporary driving layer.
Gravel comes in many varieties including limestone, granite, basalt, quartzite, and more. Each type offers unique colors, textures, and other benefits depending on your project needs.
Crushed stone consists of small pieces of rock that have been processed through machines designed to break them down into smaller particles. The result is a mixture of dust, fines and chips up to 1/4", and everything in between.
Crushed Stone can be used for a wide range of purposes including decorative landscaping, pathways, and driveways. One of the great benefits of crushed stone is its ability to compact very tightly and become very durable.
Crushed Stone Varieties
Crushed stone comes in many varieties including limestone, granite, basalt, quartzite, and more. Each type offers unique colors, textures, and other benefits depending on your project needs.
Decomposed granite is a popular choice for driveways, pathways, and other outdoor projects due to its natural look and ability to blend in with the surrounding environment.
What Is Decomposed Granite?
Decomposed granite is made from naturally-occurring granite rock that has been weathered over time. It consists of small pieces of material that range in size from dust and fines combined with very small (less than 1/8 inch) to medium (1/4 inch - 1/2 inch) aggregates. Due to its porous nature, decomposed granite can be used in many different applications such as walkways and driveways. Decomposed granite is also an excellent base material for the installation of asphalt or concrete due to its compacting abilities.
Decomposed Granite Varieties
Decomposed granite comes in many varieties including pink quartzite and gold quartzite. Each type offers unique colors, textures, and other benefits depending on your project needs.
While multiple color options are available their availability may be limited depending on location.
Pea gravel is NOT a great choice for driveways. Because Pea gravel does not compact and bind together tightly, I recommend homeowners stay away from pea gravel. Pea gravel can easily get dispersed by vehicle tires, looking very uneven and unsightly. It's just not a good choice for driveways.
Pea gravel consists of small naturally polished stones sorted down into smaller aggregates. Pea gravel can be used for a wide range of purposes including decorative landscaping, french drains, pipe bedding, or sometimes used as an aggregate in concrete projects.
Pea Gravel Varieties
Pea gravel comes in many varieties including limestone, granite, basalt, quartzite, and more. Each type offers unique colors, textures, and other benefits depending on your project needs.
Tips on Choosing the Right Gravel Type for Your Driveway
With so many types of gravel available, it can be difficult to know what to choose. But the decision shouldn't be just on what gravel you choose alone.
Excavation, Base and Drainage Planning
If you're looking for a long-lasting gravel driveway that needs minimal maintenance, one thing I can tell you is that excavating, installing a solid base, and drainage planning is every bit as important as what you choose for gravel. Just like an asphalt or concrete driveway is only as good as what's beneath it, so too it is with a good, solid, low-maintenance gravel driveway. The better the base and drainage planning, the better the driveway and the longer it will last. Also, the better the drainage planning, the fewer potholes and low areas that hold water. We cover this topic in more detail in our article "How To Make A Gravel Driveway Solid".
Installing A Solid Base
After the excavation and drainage planning have been completed comes the base. One of the most important factors of a solid gravel driveway is installing a base beneath it. Designing and installing base material will provide a solid base to drive on and will help minimize mud pushing up through whatever you choose for the gravel. The base should be between 3" and 12" deep depending on the type of soil in your area. This also helps to minimize potholes and low areas. Excellent choices for the base can be decomposed granite, recycled concrete, limestone, and crushed stone.
Choosing Your Gravel Surface Material
If you're just looking for a solid surface and the looks are not as important to you, then any type of gravel will do provided a good base has been installed, the size of the gravel doesn't exceed 1 1/2 inches, is an aggregate that is not polished or round river rock, and is compacted with a large asphalt roller, you'll get a great driveway.
If you're looking for something that looks beautiful while also being somewhat easy to maintain, then a gravel mix is best. The material should consist of crushed stone or decomposed granite and gravel not exceeding 5/8 inch to 3/4 inch aggregate, then compacted well with asphalt rollers and moisture content.
Regardless of the type of gravel you choose for your driveway – whether it's a basic gravel surface or something more visually appealing – excavating, installing a solid base, and drainage planning are vital elements to consider. Doing so not only ensures that your driveway lasts for many years to come but also reduces the number of potholes or low areas that can hold water. By following these tips and taking the time to properly prepare and compact your gravel, you can have a beautiful, long-lasting, lower-maintenance gravel driveway that you'll love!