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How to lay a gravel driveway

Laying a gravel driveway is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to add extra parking to your home. Whether you want to add an extra parking space to complement an existing driveway or create a new one entirely, in this guide we outline how you can lay your own gravel driveway.

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1. Measure and mark out

Before you start excavating your driveway it’s important to measure and mark out the area where you want to build it.

Before you start, think about the number of vehicles you want to park and whether they will fit. Remember to consider the space the vehicles will occupy, and the space needed to move them in and out of the driveway.

2. Clear and dig the area

Next up you’ll need to clear and excavate the area where you're going to lay your gravel. Before you start excavating, it’s important to consider how you’re going to dispose of any soil and your old driveway if you’re replacing it. If you’re creating a small parking space, you may be able to use the soil in other areas of your garden. For larger areas or if you need to remove an older concrete driveway, you may need to hire a skip or grab lorry.

If you’re adding a small parking space, you might be able to excavate your driveway by hand. For anything larger, consider hiring an excavator or professional help to save yourself some time.

For a gravel driveway, you need to dig to a depth of 200mm. This will allow for 150mm of sub base and 50mm of gravel. Before excavating, hire a cable avoidance tool (CAT) to check for any buried cables below your front garden.

3. Add the sub base

Once you’ve excavated, it’s time to install your sub base. The sub base is designed to support the weight of the heavy vehicles that will be using your driveway and prevent it from sinking, so it’s important to get it right. We recommend using 150mm of MOT type 1 sub base, which has great load-bearing properties. Add your sub base to your driveway and compact it with a plate compactor. When using a plate compactor, remember to wear safety boots, goggles and ear protectors.

4. Add edging

Once you’ve laid your sub base you can add your edging. Edging is used to keep the gravel in place and stop it from spreading to the surrounding areas.

If you’re replacing an existing driveway which has edging, or you’re laying gravel in an area which is surrounded by walls or fencing, you may be able to skip this step.

There are several different options available including concrete edging and block paving. If you’re looking for a quick and cost-effective solution for a small parking space, you could even use timber edging.

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5. Lay weed control fabric

Once you’ve laid and compacted your sub base down, you’ll need to add weed control fabric. This is designed to stop weeds coming up from underneath your driveway whilst still allowing water to drain through. Spread your weed mat out across your driveway and use rocks or bricks to weigh it down.

6. Lay gravel

The last step is laying the 50mm of gravel on top. Pour the gravel onto your driveway and use a rake to spread it across. Once you’ve got an even layer of gravel across your driveway, give it a quick rinse with the hose to remove any dust and dirt leaving you with a beautiful new driveway.

Maintaining your gravel driveway

Once you’ve finished your gravel driveway, you’re going to want to keep it in pristine condition. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your gravel driveway.

Rake regularly

Regularly raking your driveway will help keep the level of gravel even.

Remove debris

Small debris such as leaves and twigs may accumulate on your driveway. Clearing these regularly with a rake or leaf blower will keep it looking great.

Remove weeds

Even with weed control fabric installed, weeds may start to grow in your gravel driveway. You can remove these by hand or use a weed killer in the affected areas.

Add extra gravel

Over time, the level of gravel on your driveway might drop. If this happens, buy a few small bags of gravel to top it up.

As you can see, with some care and attention, you can create your own gravel driveway that will enhance the curb appeal of your home and give you adequate space to park your vehicles. If you’re looking for more ideas to improve the front of your home, take a look at our top front garden ideas.