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How to Clean a Gravel Driveway or Patio: 7 Maintenance Tips

In this guide, we’ll show you tips on cleaning a gravel driveway or outdoor space and maintaining it for years to come.

Nowadays, gravel driveways can be expensive. You don’t want to shell out again for a new drive because your gravel driveway maintenance wasn’t up to scratch.

Gravel driveways are very popular for their timeless looks, resilience, and ease of cleaning.

Trust us – as experts in driveway maintenance, we’ve seen our fair share of gravel driveways over the years, and there are right and wrong ways to keep them looking excellent (and stable).

Below, we’ll take you through seven top tips for cleaning and maintaining a gravel driveway or patio and what you’ll need regarding supplies.

7 Expert Tips For Cleaning A Gravel Driveway

1) Buy extra gravel bags before you install

Yes – garden gravel and driveway gravel are very low maintenance. However, you never know when you might make potholes along the way – exposing your gravel surface to water pooling and potentially damaging the installation.

You don’t want to have to fill holes in your driveway with different types or colours of gravel – it’s just not going to look right. Say potholes appear in your driveway in the coming years – you’ll be glad you bought more than enough of the base gravel so that you had some left over.

2) Be ready to weed

For a correctly laid gravel driveway, incorporating a weed membrane is crucial. Although gravel driveways generally demand low maintenance, the potential for weed growth can significantly increase under certain conditions.

Explore our guide, Simple Strategies to Stop Weeds in Gravel Driveways, for practical, eco-friendly methods to keep your driveway weed-free.

But wait – why should you remove weeds if you already have a geotextile fabric or weed growth?

Weeds can disperse on the wind. Your membrane will prevent the worst of unwanted greenery nasties from pushing up through the surface, clogging between the stones and preventing proper drainage.

This can be addressed by grabbing your gardening gloves and removing weeds as soon as you see them, for stubborn clusters of weeds it may be necessary to use a weed killer.

A tip for preventing weeds is to make sure plant material, loose debris and cut grass is removed from your gravel area immediately.

3) Keep topping up

A gravel driveway makes a fantastic alternative to other materials but, over time, is at risk of thinning out. When you first start, it’s imperative to spread gravel evenly with a garden rake and make sure it compacts as much as possible. However, many people find that they have to replace the stones in their gravel area after a while, whether through general use or if they are tired of the look.

That’s why it’s always worth looking at spots where the gravel may spread unevenly or if you need to swap out the stones completely. Luckily, there’s so little maintenance required with gravel because it’s easy to rake off and replace. We suggest considering this every two or three years if so.

4) Rake out your gravel driveway regularly.

There’s another good reason to rake out your gravel driveway regularly – dirt, leaves and other plant materials have a habit of compacting between the loose gravel and clogging up your stones if you leave it to persist.

You will likely find you must clean gravel and remove debris often, for example, during autumn and winter. One benefit a concrete or brick driveway may have over gravel is that there’s no need to rake – but it won’t take long.

Raking up garden gravel or driveway gravel semi-regularly not only means you are keeping it tidy, but you are also taking simple steps to even out your stones.

5) Check your driveway grading.

A massive benefit to gravel as a driveway material is that homeowners rarely need to worry about water runoff, pooling, or the risk of flooding. However, over time, you may find that water appears increasingly on the surface. That could result from grading, which means a slope or two emerging across the surface.

One of the best tips we can offer for grading problems is to keep a close eye on gravel density towards the centre of your driveways. While your stones should be even, a bigger build-up should be in the middle, tapering lower to the edges. Try to top up stones in this respect.

6) Use an appropriate cleaning solution.

Different driveways demand different types of cleaning detergent and solutions. Not all gravel is so sensitive, but if you want to keep your drive looking attractive for years to come,

You should look carefully for a cleaning solution that will clean gravel efficiently, protect your stone, and remove even the most persistent dirt. In some cases, a basic detergent will do the trick. You may need to scrub down to get rid of the worst stains.

The ease of cleaning, too, will depend on whether or not your driveway is sealed. Of course, using a pressure washer or garden hose to rinse down on a low setting doesn’t hurt.

7) Rinse on a low pressure

As you will likely know, gravel tends to spread and scatter if it’s not compacted well, so power washing with a high-pressure washer isn’t ideal for gravel surfaces. A better solution is to use a large outdoor broom garden rake or leaf blower to remove larger debris, then use a specialist cleaner to wash the surface layer.

Step 1: To begin the cleaning process, remove any visible weeds either by hand or with a weed killer, and brush your driveway of dirt and other debris.

Step 2: Use a garden hose to remove surface dirt, however stubborn dirt and organic stains like algae and mould will need a deeper clean with a specialist cleaner which can be bought online or at your local hardware store. An excellent way to do this is to drill holes in a wheelbarrow, use a metal hardware cloth, fill it with small stones, and thoroughly clean the gravel. You could also rinse the crushed gravel using metal mesh.

Step 3: If you use a high-pressure hose or prefer power washing for stubborn stains, set it at a low-pressure setting.

EXTRA TIPS: Always wear safety goggles and gloves when rinsing gravel. If you do so at high pressure, those rocks will fly everywhere.

Supplies Needed To Clean A Gravel Drive

A brush or broom

The first step in learning to wash gravel and maintain a gravel driveway is to brush and sweep clear dirt, leaves, soil, or other debris. Naturally, you’ll need a large outdoor broom or small brush, depending on how large the area is. You could also use a leaf blower if you have one. This should be a quick job if done regularly.

A good stain remover

You can make your own stain remover for gravel cleaning out of baking soda and vinegar, or for stubborn dirt you can buy a specially formulated cleaner for cleaning gravel from a DIY shop or online.

A pressure washer or garden hose

Rinsing down is a great idea when cleaning a gravel driveway, whilst you can use a metal hardware cloth to clean gravel you can also use a garden hose or pressure washer on a low setting. Heavy sprays will send rocks flying during the cleaning process, so wear gardening gloves and a pair of goggles.

A rake and/or a shovel

To help make sure your driveway surface is even again after removing dirt and debris, ensure you have a good rake or shovel on standby. Sometimes, a box scraper is a great choice – it tends to be the expert pick for grading gravel.

Extra gravel

Of course, if you loosen up your new gravel during washing, you may need to refill or reclaim it. Having gravel to hand that matches your original filling makes sense. Keeping your driveway clean and level means, occasionally, filling back up.

Last Word

You’ve heard it before – compared to other driveway systems, gravel can be very easy to look after. However, just like concrete, asphalt, etc, they need regular maintenance and you’ll still need to learn how to clean gravel driveway occasionally.

Cleaning tips for gravel driveway systems usually revolve around ensuring your rocks are even and that you have appropriate cleaning tools and solutions to get stains up and moving.

People often ask if they can power wash gravel, and the answer is yes, but only on a low-pressure setting! Cleaning gravel driveway surfaces probably won’t take up much of your time across the year, but it’s still worth considering the above tips.

Occasional dirt, debris, lawn clippings, decomposing plant material, garden tools, pets, and foot traffic can damage your gravel layer. Prevent weeds using a geotextile fabric when laying gravel in your outdoor space.

Remove weeds with a weed spray or by hand as they appear. Clean gravel regularly, remove detritus with a small brush or leaf blower, and use a metal mesh sieve with a stone cleaning product for stubborn stains.

We hope this guide has shown you how to clean up a gravel driveway, and we have plenty more information on gravel drive maintenance across our site.