Hello friends. Just moved into my dream homestead in NC, Everything is going well except the driveway. It's long, uphill, and has lots of ruts and clay. Had some folks over to look at it but I'm not paying a couple grand for a gravel driveway. I've scoured the internet but find no low cost options so I thought I'd turn to you guys. If I can't do it myself I'll just keep using my 4WD.
We had a driveway much like this at one site I lived at in Georgia.....it was basically impassable for my small car when I first started visiting. People threw everything they could find into it....even firewood! When I and a few others started living there we put a policy in place that no vehicle went off site without bringing back something for the driveway. I kept several large nursery pots in the car and tried to bring these back full of rubble and gravel from wherever I could scrounge these. I would locate piles of stuff like this mainly behind parking lots in town.... The worst holes and ruts would receive slabs and chunks of pavement rubble and old bricks and rocks to fill them most of the way, and then gravel would be placed around and between and above them....the gravel would "lock in" the chunks....without it, wheels would often turn the pavement slabs up on their sides and make a worse mess..... In addition we would get out there in wet weather and dig little channels to drain the worst of the water off the driveway.....eventually into little swales next to planted trees in some cases. The part of the driveway that went straight up and down hill was actually the worst....as water collected into it from the surrounding landscape and ran down it. We were still dropping rubble and gravel into that area three years later. But eventually the struggle was won, although I imagine the people there still "work the driveway" from time to time!
Don't go cheap on gravel. If you do it, do it right. Big road base first, then finer stuff. If you put in just the top gravel, it will just disappear into the clay. It needs the big stuff to lock in first.
If you are doing it with found stuff, follow the same principle. Big chunks first, then little stuff to lock it in. Alder has good ideas.
I used to work in NC, I know how fun NC clay is in a freshly cut driveway and just how much material it takes to make an all-weather driveway.
It is cheaper to buy a 4 wheeler or old pickup and leave the vehicles at the road, if they won't get broken into there. There are advantages to controlling visitors at the property line.
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R scott has a great point! Some of my friends have driveways like yours, it's a pain BUT the reward is you're never surprised by visitors either welcome or unwelcome. People have to make so much noise bringing a vehicle up that you know what is happening.
Also, depending on the length of your driveway, the price figure might not be too far off. If you think a couple grand is bad, get a price for blacktop or concrete... Around here in extreme western N.C. gravel is pretty cheap, hauling it is expensive! Seems like the gravel for a dump truck load was about 75 bucks the last time I bought it, but the load cost $250 total to have it brought out. A good dirt worker can do alot with your driveway, if it's got ruts and wash-out then it is not built right and would need complete regrading and then big gravel laid down, smooshed in, then lighter stuff put in after the big stuff has worked it's way into a road bed. You're still going to want a 4x4 because a 2 wheel drive vehicle will tear up a nice gravel driveway if it's very steep. At the very least, keep it in low gear and put a sign up telling visitors to do the same.
Best advice, get the driveway re-worked and gravelled like Rscott said, then buy a cheap tractor with a box blade so you can keep it in shape yourself... Not sure if that's economically feasible for ya though... OR... something similar to the post about using atv's... you can pick up a beat up old 4x4 SUV pretty cheap, alot cheaper than a nice atv or pickup truck and just use it for going up and down.
If the driveway is as bad as it sounds though, it would probably be in your best interest to go on, bite the bullet and have it fixed right. You can find a decent old tractor for a couple of grand if you keep your eyes out and don't get in a hurry... Depending on what you use it for, gasoline may be the best route rather than diesel... You can buy them cheaper than diesel tractors and they start in the cold MUCH easier, the biggest drawback is fuel consumption and they will tend to run hot if you're really working them hard for long periods of time.
Ajila Ama Farm Western North Carolina
Thanks for all the great replies. The driveway is pretty awful but it does keep out unwanted visitors. My 88 Comanche has no problem so I'm ok for now. I've had to rethink this driveway stuff anyway. I'm planting a two acreperennial garden/food forest that the driveway cuts through. After I've had more time to walk it an make decide how I'm going to do it then I'll give the drive more thought. I don't want to get done then have to redo it because my garden encroached on the thing.
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