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The Pros and Cons of Gravel Driveways

By: John Devlin

advantages and downsides of using gravel to surface a driveway

There’s a lot to love about a gravel driveway. They’re affordable, easy to maintain, and can last years with proper care.

A gravel driveway provides good drainage, is cost-effective and has many environmental benefits. It also adds a rustic charm to country properties.

Many people living in rural areas choose coarse gravel driveway materials for their aesthetic appeal and it’s also good for security as you can hear anyone approaching your home.

But there are also some drawbacks to consider before making this type of driveway your choice. Unlike concrete or tarmac driveways, they are unstable surfaces and require regular maintenance. 

Plus, although driveway gravel prices per square foot are lower than other material options, they will need replenishing over time.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of gravel driveways compared to concrete or tarmac so you can make an informed decision.

12 Gravel Driveway Pros And Cons

Here are some of the key benefits and also some disadvantages of gravel;

Advantages of Using Gravel for a New Driveway

Here are several gravel driveway pros;

1. Cheap

Compared to other materials, gravel driveways are relatively cost-effective. Even for a large area or if you add self-binding gravel or grids for a more attractive finish, the cost of laying gravel per meter square is still lower than that of tarmac and imprinted concrete driveways

2. Aesthetics

A pea gravel drive makes a property’s exterior naturally attractive. They make the property exterior stand out from others in the neighbourhood. This driveway option has a variety of colours and natural tones that give a unique look to your driveway.

This contrasts with other driveway materials, such as concrete and tarmac, which can be monotonous. A beautifully designed pea gravel driveway creates a long-lasting impression on a home’s exterior.

3. Easy To Top-up

All driveways wear out over time, even concrete ones. A gravel driveway is no different. In addition to losing some stones, ruts and bare spots might start to appear over time. Fortunately, you can quickly solve this issue and fix potholes by ordering more gravel to top up the affected sections and keep them in tip-top condition.

4. Permeable

If installed properly, gravel surfacing maintains its natural drainage; this permeable surface won’t need planning permission if SUD’s compliant. This means gravel driveways have no problem withstanding rainwater, the water drains away easily reducing the chances of flooding.

Additionally, installing grids under new gravel further enhances the structure of a gravel driveway by adding to its cellular structure.

5. Easy To Maintain?

A pea gravel driveway requires regular maintenance but is pretty easy to maintain. If you didn’t use a weed prevention membrane on the ground when installing the driveway, you may have to remove weeds occasionally.

If you want to learn how to permanently stop weeds in a gravel driveway, then see this guide for valuable tips and solutions to stop them from returning.

Topping up the surface layer every so often repairs small indents and prevents loose stones from coming off.

Rakes and shovels are often the only tools you need for proper care of gravel driveways. If you don’t have tools to remove weeds, you can consider using a weed killer.

6. Quick Installation

Gravel is among the easiest to install materials for a driveway and a great alternative to concrete. All you need is a layer of sand and a suitable membrane to prevent weed growth. Laying a pea gravel driveway and giving the top dressing ample time to settle shouldn’t take ages.

For more information on how do you lay gravel driveways, take a look at our detailed guide. It’s a step-by-step process and shows you the most straightforward route to a gravel driveway installation.

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Disadvantages of Graveling Your Front Driveway

Whilst there are many gravel driveway pros here are some cons of a gravel surface compared to a paved surface;

7. Snow Issues

A gravel drive surface has no significant issues in the dry summer months. However, snow removal from the bumpy pea gravel surface can be pretty tedious during cold and wet weather conditions (which can be intense in the UK).

To deal with removing snow, having gravel grids or using self-binding pea gravel helps to flatten the bumpy surface, making ice removal easy as snow sloughs off when being shoved. However, the easiest way to eliminate snow and ice is liberally sprinkling your gravel driveways with salt.

8. Holes and Ruts

Over time, gravel driveways do wear out, mainly due to heavy rainfall and lost stones creating potholes and ruts in the driveway. When it rains, water collects on these holes, making walking or driving problematic, so these need to be filled by buying more gravel.

How often the surface wears out depends on the gravel quality used. Repairing these, especially if you have long driveways, can become a nuisance and a tiresome job.

9. Reduced Stability

Sloping driveways are not the best for pea gravel because the stones won’t stay in place long. The reduced stability makes driving or walking on a sloping gravel driveway dangerous, especially when it’s raining.

Consider a resin-bound gravel surface to increase the stability of sloping gravel driveways all year round.

10. Regular Top Ups

Regular topping up of a gravel surface is needed to curb wearing out. The better the quality of gravel installed, the fewer the times it requires topping up.

11. Loose Structure

Most of the problems typical with a gravel driveway are mostly because of its loose structure. In addition to gravel coming off easily, weeds can grow when the weed prevention membrane isn’t properly placed. This makes the driveway look untidy from time to time.

12. Messy

In addition to weed problems, driving over surface gravel makes it dirty with mud and dust. Constant dust and dirt on your gravel means mean that your car will require frequent cleaning.

How Do Gravel Surfaces Compare?

Vs Asphalt Driveways

Gravel driveways feature a simple mix of clay, sand and rock. On the other hand, asphalt is a mixture of aggregate and bitumen.

An asphalt driveway, like concrete, is often used because of its low noise and hard-wearing makeup. A pea gravel driveway material is well-liked for providing homes with a natural look.

A gravel driveway and asphalt are available in different colour options depending on personal taste and if installed correctly, both will last for years.

Despite their looseness, gravel-paved surfaces are easily compacted into a reliable and sturdy shape when laid in gravel grids. Just like asphalt, gravel is a pocket-friendly option.

Unlike most driveways like asphalt and concrete, gravel driveways can last a lifetime with proper maintenance.

Vs Block Paving

Both paving slabs and gravel are standard options when installing a driveway. The former looks fantastic and is the more reliable of the two. Additionally, it is hard-wearing, easy to repair, and has various style options (textures, shapes and colours).

You can also use a pressure washer to keep it clean, unlike gravel. Its limitation is that it is costly and takes longer to prepare.

On the other hand, a gravel driveway will drain quickly and, apart from weeds, is relatively low maintenance. Moreover, it is low-cost and effortless to install.

Like paving, different styles are available, like coarse gravel and smaller pea gravel each varying in price, texture, shape, colour and size. The only thing that comes in the way of a gravel driveway has to do with gradients and maintenance.

FAQ's

Will a Gravel Driveway Last a Long Time?

Yes, gravel driveways can last long if they are adequately installed and maintained appropriately. To prevent gravel migration and constantly adding more gravel, lay inconspicuous grids under the gravel.

What Houses Do Gravel Driveways Suit?

One advantage of gravel driveways is that the materials needed are cheaper than others, making this option best suited for those looking for a pocket-friendly driveway. Both the initial cost and maintenance is inexpensive compared to many other options. Just a shovel and rake are necessary for maintenance.

A compacted gravel driveway also suits those in style. The fact that it is natural means it can suit different styles of your home, unlike tarmac or concrete, which might look out of place if the house is traditional and old.

This surfacing option works best for countryside homes and older-style properties especially those with flooding risks as it provides excellent drainage. With plenty of aggregate choices available today for homeowners, gravel can also be handy for ultra-modern properties.

Start Your Free Gravel Driveway Quote

Compare gravel installation prices from trusted, local firms with honest feedback from customers like you.

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Gravel Driveways

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Gravel Patios

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Last Word

After examining gravel driveway pros and cons we have learned that this option is not only quick to lay but also wallet-friendly and requires less maintenance than some materials. Additionally, there’s a broad selection of blends and colours.

The biggest drawback of gravel is that occasional topping-up might be necessary since gravel sinks into the soil occasionally. We hope you’ve found this article on the pros and cons of gravelled driveways helpful; for more information, check out our other driveway guides!  

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