I have a quarter-mile-long gravel driveway. Gravel driveways can be a bit of a pain. Weather, and simply driving upon them, will cause them to deteriorate over time. Gravel is lost to compaction and erosion. A grassy center crown slowly develops, and its height increases over time. Ruts and potholes will develop. And if you have vehicles with poor suspension, washboarding can develop. The runoff from a hard thunderstorm can instantly create interesting situations.
Every other year or so I’ve had to bring in a couple of dump truck loads of fresh gravel. That’s not cheap. Two truck loads of crusher run is about $700, delivered.
And about once every five years I’ve had to have a heavy equipment operator come in and re-grade the driveway.
In the interim, Ginny and I would putz around with a shovel, trying with little success to fix the inevitable potholes and such. If you’ve ever used hand tools around compacted gravel, you know how nearly pointless that exercise is.
The very end of my driveway descends about a 75-foot slope to where it meets the public road. That part of the driveway is paved. The last time I had gravel brought in, the idiot truck driver began his dump on that paved section. You want macadam. Or you want gravel. You rarely want both together. Sure enough, over time all the gravel on the paved section washed down to the very end, creating my “big” problem.
You can’t see it real well in the picture above, but the depth of that gravel runs from about 4″ on the upper end to about 8″ where it actually meets the road. It makes every motorcycle trip quite an adventure, just exiting or entering the driveway!
That’s the big problem. The “little” problem is simply the normal wear and erosion that takes place – the well-developed crown in the center (which makes getting a mower down the driveway difficult in the summer; or a snow blade in the winter), several ruts and potholes, etc.
The last picture above gives a sense for the difference in depth between the center crown and the travelled portion of the driveway. That’s the center crown on the left. Probably 4″ on average. A very low clearance vehicle, like my Civic Hybrid, will drag on that center.
At this point I’d normally fix the “little” problem by having the driveway re-graded, and then fresh gravel put down. It’s due.
I suppose the “big” problem, the gravel at the bottom, could be addressed with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. But I’ve been putting off that rather heroic effort. My philosophy has pretty much been that any day that’s good enough for shoveling is day I ought to be out riding!
I finally decided to hell with it all. Life’s too short to deal with such aggravations! And, so, my solution…..
That’s a new Kubota B3300SU with front-end loader and grading scraper on the 3-point hitch.
The first thing I worked on was re-grading the driveway. The Land Pride 60″ Grading Scraper made short work of that. A couple hours of seat time and my driveway was flat, dressed, and all the low spots were gone. The grading scraper also pulled up and redistributed a lot of gravel that was buried or lost to use in the center. Beautiful!
The next morning I tackled the bigger problem. I was a little nervous about that, given that whereas the grading scraper is a very simple implement – at its most basic, you simply drag it behind the tractor – the gravel at the bottom would require working with the front-end loader.
I needn’t have worried. I got the hang of it pretty quick. What did surprise me was the sheer quantity of gravel that I had to pick up and then redistribute up along the upper parts of my driveway. Literally yards of the stuff. After spending three hours working with the front-end loader (and, periodically, again with the grading scraper – leveling out the gravel I was redistributing), I had to laugh at the notion I could ever have done it with a shovel and wheelbarrow.
The picture above shows the bottom of my neighbors’ driveway (shared by four families which doesn’t help when it comes to decisions regarding maintenance, I’m sure), where it adjoins mine. They have the same runoff-and-collection problem – only much worse even than mine was. We’ll see if they want me to help work on that.
To say I am pleased would be a vast understatement. To paraphrase a famous line, “I love the smell of diesel in the morning!”