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Tips for building a short driveway/ parking area?

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  • Tips for building a short driveway/ parking area?

    Need a 12' x 40" area that we can drive on year round. Anyone done this? Would like to stay as low cost as possible.

  • #2
    Year round in the snow?

    In the snow I'd use asphalt or concrete. Asphalt is best left to the pros but it's really quick. Concrete you can do yourself but it is hard work and takes a while. Dig out and build forms, you must place expansion joints in between sections, make a skeleton of rebar (although I hear the new thing is fiber reinforcement) and fill with concrete. I'm hazy on the details of concrete - there are various types that function better in different situations. I've also had intimate acquaintance with scrap metal used for reinforcement and I'd say don't. You just can't get the continous length out of a bunch of bedframes, eventually some guy with a load of rock is going to drive over your parking area for something and it will crack and begin to break up.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • Original Poster

      Thanks! I was actually thinking of doing it with gravel. It is to a building that will not be accessed frequently- say 2- 3 times a week on average. But, I need non 4WD vehicles to be able to get there. (It's for a small cabin we're building.)


      • #4
        Originally posted by 4Martini View Post
        Thanks! I was actually thinking of doing it with gravel. It is to a building that will not be accessed frequently- say 2- 3 times a week on average. But, I need non 4WD vehicles to be able to get there. (It's for a small cabin we're building.)
        I was just going to suggest gravel. I haven't done one myself, but my brother did, and it worked out well. I believe he pulled up the grass first, with one of those turf cutter things (rented at Lowe's, IIRC.) That created a little bit of a depression to help contain the gravel. It's been a while, but I *think* he might have put something down underneath the gravel as well... sand? M10? Something like that. It looked like stonedust.
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


        • #5
          How's the soil type? Dad put in a little parking area by dumping 3/4 rock over degraded granite soil, which is pretty much rock anyway. Over time the rock compacted. The fancy way to do it is dig out topsoil, put down a layer of geotextile so all your rock doesn't sink away into the earth and then put down a couple three layers of different sized rock, say 2 inch, 3/4 and then 1/2 gravel. Everybody calls the rocks by some regional name so you can't go wrong by specifying a measured size, and usually folks at a quarry are pretty knowledgeable about what gets used in your area. When we bought rock they sold it by the ton so it took a while to figure out how much was a pickup load. You can also buy say five yards at a time and the guy will come out with a dump truck and spread it for you, he'll just back up to your start point, raise the bed and start slowly dumping it out. Again it's a matter of figuring out how much you need - tons, yards, whatever.

          You won't be able to plow it worth a darn in the winter though. We use a box grader and drag up the snow and flatten the gravel at the same time, but we don't get much snow.

          I don't think it's really possible to totally mess up gravel - the worst thing that can happen is it sinks into the earth and you have to add more, of course having that be a yearly event or having it sink and not adding more and getting stuck isn't great.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            If there's going to be anything heavier than a Camry on it, I will let you learn from me, LOL. When I bought my house the gravel drive was fine...for a normal passenger vehicle. 7,000 lbs of F250, however, started sinking when it got really wet. I finally was able to hold it up with the advice of a coworker -- start with the big rocks. If you put regular road gravel down first, it will just squish into the mud and disappear.

            I put down #3 railroad ballast and then drove and parked on it for a couple months. Then, when it was nice and squished, I put abc on top to dress it and settle into the spaces. I think if I did it over, I would add a middle layer of #57 beneath the abc, but it works and it's finally stable!

            I conveniently live 10 mins from the quarry, so I just go get a scoop in the bed of the truck or better yet, borrow BFF's dump trailer (wayyyyyy better), it's only about $25-30 a ton.
            Life doesn't have perfect footing.

            Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
            We Are Flying Solo


            • #7
              Depending on how wet it will get and your soil type, you will want to start with larger rock and finish with road rock. I usually recommend a base layer of what we call 1-3 inch, which is rocks that vary from 1 to 3 inches in diameter, without fines (dust). Then a layer of 1 inch clean, then your top layer of road rock, which is usually 3/4" - 1" rock with fines mixed in so it packs. Call your local quarries and they should be able to recommend a reliable hauler/contractor that knows what he's doing.
              It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


              • #8
                Remove the organics from this area before you put down your 3/4" modified gravel. Otherwise you increase the potential for mud and "migration" of your stone. Some folks prefer to put a geo-textile down before putting in the stone. Compact the first layer and then put additional stone on top of that. This will last for a very long time.


                • #9
                  Get some geotextile fabric, to lay before putting any rocks on top. The fabric should be available from landscape places. Comes wide, 12-14ft, if you need a wider drive, overlap the edges a foot or two, so fabric doesn't move while piling the cover on it. Fabric is light, easy to handle, cuts with knife or scissors. You just want the fabric to prevent weight above, pushing your driveway down into the soil. Plan a good DEEP layer of cover stone, 5-7" which will compress some with time, so you don't move the stone driving over it.

                  For the topping, I would suggest crushed asphalt. We used it for our "parking area" under the semi tractor-trailer, two large trailers, and the crushed asphalt
                  over swampy mud has been TERRIFIC. The layer is deep, because of the weight of vehicles above, but hasn't moved at all since installation over the fabric. The asphalt drains well, never muddy. It does get hardened, you can't kick it around with a shoe. We have used crushed concrete in other locations, which also does an excellent job for firm surfaces to drive on.

                  Compare the various materials for cost, the re-used materials might be cheaper than the stones. We have a lot of re-use materials available at considerable savings, for driveways or mud spots. I have watched truckloads of rock disappear into our clay dirt, before we used the geotextile fabrics. I don't lose the fill now!

                  Rent equipment to move these fillers, dirt or stones, if you don't have a bucket on your tractor. Doing the work by hand is real hard on your body. The rental place lets you get done easier, faster, probably will do a better job than hand work lets you. Driving the machines is not hard to learn, the rental guy will give you a quickie lesson. Ask him, really is easy.